Thursday, February 19, 2009

Op-Ed: David Alpert on TDM recommendations

Leading edge TDM strategies showing the way

When any new building appears in the city, its residents, office workers and/or shoppers have to travel to and from the building. The traditional planning approach is to require enough parking so that all of the users could drive there. But that's not the ideal outcome, since our roads can't handle more traffic. Instead, many cities now push for other elements that make it easier for people to travel by other modes. These elements are called Transportation Demand Management strategies.

At the Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing for the Whitman-Walker project at 14th and S, DDOT planner Chris Ziemann proposed several TDM strategies, including bicycle parking, car sharing spaces, free initial Zipcar or SmartBike memberships, and free SmarTrip cards for new residents. These come from a September DDOT memo on TDM which I was able to obtain.

These are the TDM strategies DDOT considers when looking at a new project:

* Bicycle parking: One space for each 20 car spaces, locked bicycle storage, and shower facilities for workers. That can include facilities for workers at residential buildings as well as office workers.

* Carpools: Reserved spaces in good locations for carpools and vanpools, and discounts against parking rates in pay garages.

* Parking costs: Ensure that the garage charges market rates for parking. If employees or residents get free parking, allow them to take a payment ("cash-out") for the market value of their space instead.

* Car sharing: Free parking spaces(s) for carsharing vehicles, accessible 24-7 to the public. Also, cover the initiation fee and first year membership fees for initial residents.

* Bike sharing: Allocate space for a SmartBike station, or possibly fund the station entirely.

* SmarTrip: Give new residents and building employees complimentary SmarTrip cards. DDOT suggests $20 for residential tenants and $60 for employees of residential buildings.

* Information: Put links on buildings' Web site to and Include signs or brochures in lobby kiosks, information in welcome packets, or bulletin boards with information on transportation options.

* Technology: Have a business center in residential buildings with a copier, fax, and Internet access. This makes it easier for people to telecommute.

Keep in mind that this is just a menu of possibilities, not rules. DDOT can decide which are most appropriate for each project. The developers can voluntarily agree to implement some, and if not, BZA or Zoning Commission ultimately decides whether to impose any as conditions of approvals. Some, like bicycle parking, are also part of draft future zoning rules, but these may go beyond the absolute requirements of zoning.

- David Alpert,
Washington DC

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