Times change. Ideas shift. New paradigms emerge to meet the needs and wants of today’s society. May this framing document contribute to such a fruitful, prosperity-enhancing transition.
The June 2018 framing document “More Choices, Less Traffic” presented by Climate Resolve in partnership with ClimatePlan describes the interrelation of transportation investments and land use patterns that are behind California’s congestion woes, and then suggests an alternative path forward — one in which per capita VMT reduction is a central strategy.
It then describes the numerous co-benefits besides curbing congestion and improving mobility that go hand-in-hand with such a reduced VMT scenario, and recommends an intersectional, cross-jurisdictional, equity-enhancing approach as having the most potential to improve lives.
This framing document was prepared in the lead-up to the first joint meeting of the California Air Resources Board and California Transportation Commission, the purpose of which is to coordinate implementation of programs and policies that have a nexus to achieving State transportation and air quality goals.
The organizations that contributed to its drafting are all part of the ClimatePlan network, which works with non-profit organizations throughout the state of California to change how land use planning and transportation investments occur in California. Their vision is to create a healthier, more sustainable California, where people of all backgrounds and incomes have the opportunity to thrive.
The author of this framing document is Bryn Lindblad, Deputy Director of Climate Resolve.
Ella Wise and Chanell Fletcher of ClimatePlan were instrumental to the collaborative process that informed its drafting. Matt Baker of Planning and Conservation League offered invaluable insight throughout the process. Other members of the work group that provided useful input and advice along the way include: Veronica Tovar (Catholic Charities), Carter Rubin (Natural Resources Defense Council), Bill Sadler (Public Health Alliance of Southern California), Linda Rudolph (Public Health Institute), Jonathan Matz (Safe Routes to School National Partnership), Esther Postiglione and Tony Dang (California Walks), Kyle Rentschler (Sierra Club), and Kathy Dervin (350 Bay Area). Additional contributors include: Jared Sanchez (California Bicycle Coalition), Adam Livingston (Sequoia Riverlands Trust), Stuart Cohen (TransForm), Salem Afangideh (Public Advocates), and Erika Rincón (PolicyLink). The author is grateful to each and every one of them for their feedback and partnership.
Roads are congested
VMT per capita is increasing
Autonomous vehicles impact to VMT and congestion is uncertain
Adding road capacity in congested, high-growth areas does not reduce congestion
Highway expansion continues
Budget squeeze on other modes
Highway expansion induces sprawl
Poor health outcomes from lack of physical activity, air pollution, and motor vehicle injuries
Climate pollution is on the rise
Reducing VMT can help us build better corridors
Increasing accessibility to essential services improves equity
Curbing sprawl conserves open space
Reduced VMT and active transportation benefits to public health
Reduced VMT reduces exposure to collisions
Action to achieve VMT reduction should be approached in an intersectional way and prioritize vulnerable communities; if implemented in an equity-enhancing way, this approach will improve mobility and lead to a more just California.