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Infrastructure Evaluation

Before creating a community plan for transportation, it is important to consider what infrastructure is already in place and the current and future needs of the community. Using some of the tools below and working in collaboration with your local Council of Governments, you can successfully evaluate the transportation infrastructure in your community.

Tools for Action

Evaluating a municipality’s transportation infrastructure, particularly in the context of clean energy, involves a multi-faceted approach that includes assessment tools and methodologies from various fields. Here are some tools and methods commonly used for this purpose:

  1. Sustainability and Clean Energy Assessment Tools  
  • LEED for Neighborhood Development: This certification system evaluates the sustainability of neighborhood development projects, including transportation aspects such as walkability, public transit access, and green infrastructure.
  • Greenroads: A certification program that focuses on the sustainability of roadway projects, taking into account factors like energy consumption, pollution reduction, and use of recycled materials.
  1. Transportation and Mobility Analysis Tools
  • MOVES (Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator): Developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, MOVES is used to estimate emissions from mobile sources at the national, state, and local levels.
  • SUMO (Simulation of Urban Mobility): An open-source, highly portable, microscopic, and continuous road traffic simulation package designed to handle large road networks.
  • VISSIM: A traffic flow simulation software that helps in understanding and improving the efficiency of transportation infrastructure, including the integration of clean energy vehicles.
  1. GIS and Spatial Analysis Tools
  • ArcGIS: A comprehensive GIS software for mapping and analyzing spatial data, which can be used to study transportation networks, assess accessibility, and plan infrastructure improvements.
  • QGIS: An open-source GIS tool similar to ArcGIS, useful for mapping and spatial analysis related to transportation and infrastructure.
  1. Data Collection and Analysis Tools
  • Smart City Sensors and IoT Devices: These devices collect real-time data on traffic flow, air quality, and energy usage, which can be analyzed to improve transportation efficiency and promote clean energy use.
  • Big Data Platforms (e.g., Hadoop, Spark): Used for storing and processing large datasets collected from various sources like GPS devices, social media, and sensor networks to understand and optimize transportation systems.
  1. Public Transportation Analysis Tools
  1. Environmental Impact Assessment Tools
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): A systematic process for evaluating the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project, including transportation infrastructure projects.
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): A technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life, from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling.
  1. Energy and Emissions Modelling Tools
  • HOMER (Hybrid Optimization Model for Multiple Energy Resources): Used for designing and analyzing hybrid power systems, which can include transportation infrastructure such as electric vehicle charging stations.
  • RETScreen: A software package for clean energy project analysis, including assessing the feasibility and performance of transportation infrastructure projects that integrate renewable energy technologies.
  1. Policy and Economic Analysis Tools
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA): A financial assessment tool used to compare the costs and benefits of different transportation projects, including those focused on clean energy and sustainability.
  • Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Analysis: Tools and strategies that aim to reduce travel demand or redistribute this demand in space or in time, promoting sustainable modes of transportation like biking, walking, and public transit. Online resources like the TDM Encyclopedia may be helpful.
  1. Integrated Urban and Transportation Planning Tools
  • UrbanFootprint: A comprehensive urban planning software that supports scenario planning, impact analysis, and data visualization, helping cities to plan sustainable and resilient transportation systems.
  • CUBE: A modeling and simulation software for transportation planning, allowing municipalities to test various scenarios and understand the impacts on transportation networks and energy consumption.
  1. Collaborative Platforms and Open Data Initiatives
  • OpenStreetMap (OSM): A collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world, which includes detailed information on transportation networks that can be used for various analyses and planning purposes.
  • SharedStreets: An open data platform that supports the analysis and improvement of urban transportation by providing a common data language and tools for sharing transportation data.

When it comes to evaluating infrastructure related to active modes of transportation, such as biking and walking, specific tools and frameworks designed to assess and enhance the accessibility, safety, and usability of these non-motorized transportation modes are useful. Here are some notable tools and methodologies:

  1. Complete Streets
  • Complete Streets Framework: This approach ensures that streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. The National Complete Streets Coalition provides guidelines and policy frameworks for implementing Complete Streets. See also the CT DOT Complete Streets design criteria.
  1. Walkability and Bikeability Assessment Tools
  • Walk Score: A tool that measures the walkability of any address by analyzing the distance to various amenities and services. It provides a score that indicates how friendly an area is to walking.
  • Bike Score: Similar to Walk Score, Bike Score measures how suitable an area is for biking based on factors such as bike lanes, hills, destinations, and road connectivity.
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) Tools: PBIC offers various tools and resources for assessing and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, including audit tools, safety assessments, and best practice guides.
  1. Level of Service (LOS) for Pedestrians and Bicyclists
  • Pedestrian LOS (PLOS) and Bicycle LOS (BLOS): These metrics assess the quality and performance of pedestrian and bicycle facilities based on factors such as safety, comfort, and connectivity. They are often used in conjunction with traffic simulation software like VISSIM. Here is a free BLOS calculator.
  1. Geographic Information System (GIS) Tools
  • ArcGIS and QGIS: These GIS tools can be used to map and analyze pedestrian and bicycle networks, identify gaps, and prioritize infrastructure improvements. They allow for spatial analysis of accessibility, connectivity, and safety.
  1. Public Space and Street Design Tools
  • Nacto Urban Street Design Guide: Provides comprehensive guidelines for designing streets that prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, focusing on elements like sidewalks, bike lanes, intersections, and transit integration.
  • Streetmix: An online tool that allows users to design and visualize street layouts, incorporating elements like bike lanes, sidewalks, and green spaces.
  1. Health and Environmental Impact Tools
  1. Safety and Accessibility Audits
  • Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Audits: Structured assessments that identify safety issues and potential improvements for pedestrian and bicycle facilities. They involve on-site evaluations, stakeholder consultations, and data analysis.
  • Walkability and Bikeability Audits: Community-based audits that engage residents and stakeholders in evaluating the walking and biking environment, often using checklists and guided walks/bike rides.
  1. Data Collection and Analysis Tools
  • Automated Pedestrian and Bicycle Counters: Devices that collect data on pedestrian and bicycle traffic volumes, helping to understand usage patterns and infrastructure needs. One example of such a product would be Eco-Counters.
  • Surveys and Public Input Tools: Tools like SurveyMonkey or specialized platforms like MetroQuest collect feedback from residents on their walking and biking experiences and infrastructure needs.
  1. Integrated Planning and Policy Tools
  • UrbanFootprint: A comprehensive urban planning software that can model and analyze the impacts of different land use and transportation scenarios, including those that promote active transportation.
  • Envision: A rating system that evaluates the sustainability and resiliency of infrastructure projects, including those that enhance pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.

By combining these tools and methodologies, municipalities can effectively evaluate and enhance their transportation infrastructure with a focus on clean energy and sustainability. This integrated approach helps in making informed decisions that promote environmental responsibility, economic efficiency, and social equity in urban transportation planning.

Taking Action

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>Vehicle Inventory

>Transp. Infrastructure Assmt.

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>Transportation Plan

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>Education

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Municipal

STUDY

PLAN

DO

>Town Fleet Assessment

>VMT Assessment

>EV Chargers Siting Assessment

>Vehicle Replacement Schedule

>VMT and Idling Reduction Plan

>Funding Options

>Charging Station Installation

>Fleet Conversion

>Employee Training

Resources

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