TDM in the Community

Transportation demand management (TDM) is one of those wonky terms that can sound confusing – but when it’s put into action, it can be a powerful tool for relieving traffic congestion in cities.

City leaders, including Austin’s, have long been proponents of TDM. In fact last spring, when the first day of SXSW coincided with a visit from then-President Barack Obama, Mayor Steve Adler urged Austinites to work from home or use options like carpooling or transit. That was TDM in action, and it worked. What was supposed to be a more-miserable-than-usual day of traffic turned into one of the only times in recent history traffic was moving on local roads and highways.

In a nutshell, TDM is what happens when commuters use existing infrastructure to get to work, including transit, bike lanes, sidewalks and the ability to implement telework, flex hours, carpooling, and ridesharing.

But it’s not just cities seizing on TDM. Recently The Grove at Shoal Creek and the City asked Austin engineering firm Big Red Dog to create a TDM plan for The Grove. Big Red Dog engineers say that the goal of the TDM plan for the development is to keep vehicle congestion levels lower than what the traffic analysis anticipated. The developers will do that in part with design already planned into the development, including walkability, features like building setbacks, wide shaded sidewalks, signalized crossings, plans for transit stops within the site, and bicycle-friendly elements.

As The Grove is built out, the developer will keep track of vehicle trips and when they take place, in order to get a clear picture of what the commuting patterns of residents, employees, and visitors looks like. TDM strategies can then be adjusted based on what is learned, to continue reducing rush hour vehicle trips.

We at Movability work with employers around Central Austin to help them create mobility plans that use TDM principals, so we think it’s pretty exciting to see a private developer designing TDM into a new project!

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