Multi-Modal Level-Of-Service Goes Mainstream: Chickens Can Finally Cross Roads


Anyone who has read my previous blog knows that I’m a big fan of Todd Litman.  This continues with his latest blog post on Planetizen about Level of Service (LOS).  LOS, an A-F grading system for roadways, has traditionally only been calculated for cars, and what works better for cars often is worse for everyone else, including multiple wide lanes, large corner curve radii, fewer intersections, and a lack of street trees of other obstructions.  This has skewed the analyses of transportation planners and engineers to favor cars over all other modes of transportation, often to their detriment.

New developments, however, may change this in the future.  Multi-modal LOS calculations is gaining traction and recognizing that what is good for cars is not necessarily good (and is often quite bad) for everyone else.  Jacksonville, FL, rarely the paradigm of urbanism, is setting a good example with their pedestrian LOS map and new multi-modal transportation plan

They plan to bring most of these streets up over the next 20 years.

It will take quite a bit of work to collect the data needed to accurately assess multi-modal LOS (as opposed to the simple volume to capacity ratio for car LOS), but the effort is underway in some cities, and the new guidelines for the 2010 Highway Capacity Manual, which include Multi-modal LOS, should encourage cities to work on collecting the data.  Hopefully, in the future, the efficiency of roads will be calculated based on how well they move all people and not just drivers.

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About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

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