12 Takeaways from TRB

Back in January, most of the UNC Planning students specializing in transportation made their annual pilgrimage to Washington, DC, to attend the Transportation Research Board conference. Here are a few of the highlights that we wanted to share:

  1. It turns out that sharrows might make roads less safe for bikes
Sharrow. Photo Credit: Creative Commons Source.

2. There’s still no consensus about exactly why people are moving back to cities at such high rates.

3. “Car-shedding” is the hot new term for urbanites who ditch their cars after moving into the city.

4. Urban freight needs often fly under the radar, but are crucial to thriving cities. Bike infrastructure poses a direct conflict, and as multimodal planners we should be cognizant of the challenges.

5. Mobility on Demand is so hot right now! FTA led a workshop at TRB asking for input from TNCs, academics, transit agencies, local governments, and private companies as they design their new Mobility on Demand Funding Program, the first iteration of which will roll out in 2016.

6. DC has tons of great restaurants and bars—and good transit options.

7. As the population ages, research about the benefits and risks of the elderly population driving more is starting to get more attention.

8. Transportation is paramount to the process of addressing the needs of struggling communities and addressing the spatial distribution of poverty and access to jobs and community resources that help build financial and human capital.

Lyft car
Lyft. Photo Credit: Creative Commons Source. 

9. Public-Private Partnerships continue to gain popularity for creating dynamic and well-integrated transportation projects.

10. Planning for hazards and transportation infrastructure is becoming increasingly important and makes financial sense—but it takes a lot of specialized data that can be hard to collect.

11. The bigger the projects are, the more complex they are. The most successful project administrators are willing to push the envelope.

12. Crunching numbers and running models can only get you so far in travel behavior research. Sometimes you need to talk to people to understand their choices.

Finally, US Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, delivered a speech in which he laid out ambitious and optimistic plans for our transportation infrastructure saying, “We built highways that carved out communities,” but “our aging infrastructure provides us with the ability to restore our transportation systems and rejuvenate our cities in an equitable way.” Cheers to that!

About the Author: A Seattle native, Chris Bendix earned a BA in Philosophy from Whitman College. Chris has a passion for seeking efficiency, equity, and sustainability in policy-making, especially in the realm of transportation.  He is an Online Content Editor for Angles.

Featured image: Tilikum Crossing. Creative Commons Source.