What factor most defines the shape and experience of the built environment?
How big the gash is that the freeway cuts through your favorite city?
How much land is dedicated to parking in the citycenter?
And how long the traffic jams will be if you get it wrong?
The factor is ‘Single Occupant Driving at Peak’, or SODAP for short.
The SODAP rate is all the people driving alone at peak divided by all the people using the road at peak. Important to note that we leave out the people who are teleworking or taking the trains.You can see that the SODAP rate is what is deciding how much road is needed, how much parking is needed, how long the traffic jams will be, how much traffic congestion there is, how much energy is wasted, how great the tailpipe emissions will be, and even other things such as how distorted land prices are.
A high SODAP rate is not consistent with the new urbanism. If we want a successful new urbanism I believe we must, we MUST, start putting much more resource into reducing SODAP.
So how do we reduce the rate of SODAP? Not eliminate, but reduce. I don’t see how we can achieve our goals if we do not.
Lets say you take your city to a doctor for a check up, he call for some tests…The results come in….
The results come back, showing a raised level of single occupant driving at peak.
Turns out the doctor has a name for your condition: Arterial Sovosis – hardening of the arteries caused by too many single occupant vehicles.He sends you to a specialist.
You want a silver bullet cure for this condition…., but the specialist says lets explain this a bit more….
He pulls up a chart and says ‘Here is your average US City. When people choose to use the roads, this is how they travel. Here are all the SOVs, and here are the traditional treatments. You can see how many trips are being taken in carpools and vanpools, and the number in buses. You can see that these traditional approaches are not having much effect on the amount of single occupant driving.”
“and here is what is coming in the next decade if we do not make changes….”
“And this is how it converts to road space utilisation. Fully 94% of the road space used other than freight is used by single occupant vehicles”.
And you interrupt and say, “yes, Doctor, but what can we do?” And he is going to say: “We Do Not Know”.
And he says: “We have tried some things but they only work a little. We don’t’ know how to move beyond this. Here, I will show you some statistics.”
This shows the rate of SODAP (calculated based on the trips to work which is the closest proxy we have to a true SODAP metric). You can see that Honolulu is the best and Akron is the worst. The next slide shows the highest and lowest in a bit easier format for reading.
“Honolulu and New York are about equal, and you can see how some other representative cities are doing. See the average at 85% has some important cities in it.And see that in 1980 we were doing about 73%. So we have been there before. But over time no solutions to SODAP have been shown to work consistently.”“The reality is that only one out of about 11 work trips, or 11 million per day, are made as a passenger. The rest are made as drivers. About 130 million people travel to work each day in the USA, and they take over 300 million empty seats to work with them.
“What we really need,” he says, “is a target for improving SODAP, and an applied research program for getting there”. You say: “what is applied research?”
“The sort of research that was done after President Kennedy announced the moon shot. Until then the rocket scientists were doing what interested them. From that point on they were focused on solving the problems associated with getting a person to the moon and back safely. Applied research refers to that program of problem solving that keeps going until a solution is found. Funny, in the 60’s we had a space program. Now we need a ‘road space’ program to solve our arterial sovosis”.
It is true, we really do not know how to reduce SODAP. So that is why we are forming the Ridesharing Institute.
The Mission is to drive forward applied research into how to reduce SODAP levels. We want to raise the rate at which people are passengers, when they use the roads.
We don’t know what the answers are, though we have some ideas. And we see three reasons for hope. The first is that we can rethink roadway capacity. The second is that there are some new origin-end solutions. And the third is that there are some new destination end solutions.
Firstly rethinking roadway capacity.
Please note down what you think of as the capacity of a lane of road, per hour.
Some people think of the capacity of the road as the number of cars that can go through it, and it ranges from 1,600 to 2,500 vehicles per hour. If we take the lower of those, a lane would carry 1600 cars and people. That would allow some space for freight as well.
But what if we thought about the number of people based on the current average occupancy of 1.1 people per vehicle? Then people capacity would be 1,760 people per lane hour.How about if the vehicles were 3 person carpools?
Then it would be 4,800 people per lane hour. How about if it was a mix of SOV, HOV 2,3, 4, vans and some buses?
With one possible mix of these modes it would be possible to get 12,000 people through per lane hour.Now what about if the vehicles were all 50 seat buses?
If we could physically get 1600 50 seat buses through then that would amount to a massive 80,000 people per lane hour. Imagine, when there were just 1,600 vehicles with 1.1 persons per vehicle we said the capacity was being overused. What proportion of this theoretical capacity are we really using?
Yes, we are using less than 3% of road capacity. You can see what my grand-daughter thinks of that!How different would our decisions be if we thought of our roads as operating at 3% of capacity, rather than at greater than capacity?Now, what is a situation recently where some physical constraint was changed through technology changing the capacity?
This is a twisted copper pair. This is what connects our telephones to the phone network. Until recently it was thought that a copper pair could carry just one telephone conversation at a time. Now it can carry multiple conversations and lots of computer data as well. Do you know what magical technology caused this change? Broadband.
If we could broadband the roads, there would be less traffic, less energy used, fewer emissions. There would be reduced demand for expanded roading infrastructure, an you might even be able to take down some of the roads that have been built in the wrong places. It would allow redevelopment with better scale of roads between liveable places.A router for the transport system is a meeting-place where people can form rideshares in cars, vans, or buses.That is what I mean by rethinking roadway capacity.
The second reason for hope is that new technologies are making it easier to share. What does it take to get people to share? It is easy with bits and bytes to cram them into a twisted pair – they don’t have opinions and congressmen. We can probably agree that there is not enough money to do it all with public transport right away, and why would you want to when there is perfectly good rolling stock out there that is being paid for by individual car owners. This is where we come to some interesting developments.
First there is casual carpooling, a system of ridesharing that has grown up in San Francisco and Washington DC. People line up and get into the next car going their way. No need to pre-arrange the ride when there are enough people at the meeting-place.
About 10,000 people do this each day in 3,000 3-person carpools in San Francisco, and the same again in Washington DC.
Our company, Raspberry Express, is developing a solution that captures the meeting-place efficiency of the casual system.
There are a myriad of competitors trying to make theiPhone, smartphone, and android work for finding ridematches on the fly.
The third reason for hope is new destination-end solutions.People say they cannot share because no-one else goes all the way to their workplace, and they might need to get around during the day. Here are three ideas that solve those problems.
Get dropped at a circulator bus stop and you can catch it right to where you work.
During the day if you need to get somewhere nearby you can borrow a bike.
If a bike is not enough because you need to go further or carry stuff, you can rent a car by the hour.
Putting together all three reasons for hope into a single example – in the morning go to the meeting-place adjacent to the neighbourhood and catch an express carpool, get dropped at the circulator bus stop, during the day use bike or carshare to get around, and in the evening do it in reverse to get home. Consider – it costs about 50 cents a boarding to put this in place, compared with $3.00 per boarding for buses.
The combination of these solutions should lead to greater levels of ridesharing. But they need to be tested in an applied research environment – where there is belief that we will succeed, and we keep testing and modifying until we do succeed.
The Ridesharing Institute is being set up to drive the agenda forward. We are setting a goal of doubling the number of people who ride to work as passengers in cars, vans, or buses, from about one out of eleven today to one out of five, as soon as possible. This would return us to 1980 levels of SODAP.
This is how you can help. In particular you can and should include ridesharing in your definition of sustainable transport.
We need everyone to become a passenger some of the time, especially at peak.
I would really like to hear from you and get your suggestions on how we proceed. Please contact us through these channels.
Ridesharing Institute CNU Presentation
Sharing the Ride On Two Wheels or Four<br />CNU 19<br />Madison<br />