Why is Transportation Demand Management (TDM) the Best Investment for Public Health?

In the world of transportation, two components tend to dominate the discussion; design and planning. Those two components often look over the more vital component, funding and programming, but thus the nature of the beast. Typically most transportation discussions always lead back to design and planning. Much like in the world of health the discussion usually turns back to doctors and medicine. If one gets sick they see the doctor. If a street is too congested, they can have design add a lane. If there is a pandemic then a vaccine or drug will be prescribed to fight off the disease. If there is a community problem then planning will prescribe a TOD or transit system. But like in public health, many are trying to lead the discussion back to preventative care rather than keep the status quo fixated on doctors and medicine. Transportation demand management for lack of a better comparison is the preventative care option for the transportation discussion. Thus in many ways is the most important tool that can leverage transportation to fix America’s public health problem.

C.E.A Winslow defined public health as, “the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts and informed choices of society, organizations, public and private, communities and individuals.” Although, public health has evolved over time, it has only grown in scope and incorporates more sectors and industries.

Before the economic recession, sustainability was the big buzzword. Sustainability, for the most part was focused on getting projects and developments to achieve the triple bottom line (equity, environment, and economics).

Early on, sustainability was a luxury option, but later morphed into necessary requirement for firms that were concerned with their public image. After the recession hit some firms refocused around sustainability while others once again saw it as a luxury option. The Obama administration understood early on the importance of sustainability and took it to the next level by supporting and creating the HUD, DOT, and EPA Sustainable Communities Initiative. This led to the new “livability” criteria that many federal departments now employ when determining which projects receive funding.

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RFP: The Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

The objectives of project C16 are to: (1) Identify where and how smart growth policies and practices should be addressed at key decision points in the transportation planning process to make better decisions about highway capacity requirements; (2) develop analytical tools that transportation planners can use to quantify the short- and long-term impacts of various smart growth scenarios on peak period travel demand; (3) provide practical guidance and resources to help MPOs and state DOTs use information on the reduction of peak period auto use resulting from existing and planned smart growth developments to relieve regional congestion; (4) provide transportation agencies with advice on how to get the right land use decision makers and stakeholders with the right information involved in the transportation planning process at the right time; and (5) tightly integrate tools and information produced for this project into the web-based Transportation for Communities: Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP) transportation capacity Decision Guide.