Impressions from our Sustainable Europe Summer Course

As in the past, this year Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia successfully collaborated in offering our ‘Sustainable Europe’ course. Please stay tuned for more information.

Here is a link to the student’s course blog.

Below are some photos taken during the last week of the course in Freiburg and Karlsruhe (Germany) as well as in Strasbourg (France).

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Several Media Mentions Around Bike-to-Work Week/Day

Minneapolis Star Tribune: The Drive: You may live longer if you bike to work

Cycling Weekly: Increased cycling infrastructure leads to 75 per cent crash rate decrease in some U.S. cities, says study

Chicagoist: America’s Cycling Infrastructure Is Pretty Bad, But Chicago Is An Exception That Proves The Rule

Bristol Post: Cyclists need to be separated from drivers to reduce injuries says study

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Studio Class Presents on Bikeshare in Merrifield, VA

This story, written by Barbara Micale, appeared on the VT NCR website:

May 17, 2017


Binh Ly was one of six Virginia Tech master’s students to present a plan to Fairfax County Department of Transportation that would expand bike share to Merrifield.

Bike share — a convenient and healthy mode of alternative transportation — is increasingly popular, with 55 systems nationwide. Fairfax County adopted the idea in October 2016, placing 29 stations and more than 200 bicycles in Reston and Tysons through Capital Bikeshare.

Looking to expand its bike-share network to Merrifield, Virginia, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation turned to Ralph Buehler, associate professor of urban affairs and planning in the Virginia Tech National Capital Region, and a team of graduate students to research bike share potential and determine the best station locations.

Bryan Botello, of Dallas, Texas; Colin Chadduck, of Alexandria, Virginia; Valeria Gelman, of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia; Emily Lockhart, of Gainesville, Florida; Binh Ly of, Woodbridge, Virginia; and Bryan Steckler, of Fredricksburg, Virginia; took on the charge in a master’s studio.

In studying the area, the students found that Merrifield’s location, current population and demographics, growing employment base density, and existing transport infrastructure (including mass transit options) are the same factors that have led regionally comparable areas to launch successful bike-share operations.

“Over the next 10 years, the Merrifield area’s population is expected to double,” said Ly. “According to projections, growth will exclusively focus in the transit station area and the Town Center, with nearly 10,000 jobs added between these two areas and the Inova Fairfax Hospital campus area.”

The students learned that interest in cycling is growing in Merrifield. Merrifield has several bike racks both in the Mosaic District and at the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metrorail Station. The Fairfax County Bicycle Masterplan recommends several bike lanes and trails for expansion and improvement as roads are repaved and redeveloped.

Bike to Work Day is also popular in the area. Since 2015, Merrifield has hosted Bike to Work Day “pit stop locations” for participants in the Mosaic District and on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, and will participate in this year’s event, scheduled for May 19.

In general, local and national businesses are showing a strong interest in promoting cycling and sustainable modes of mobility.

After determining that Merrifield is an optimal choice for bike-share expansion, the team of students proceeded to identify the best locations for bike share stations.

“To determine station locations, we used both quantitative models and information gathered from site visits. Ultimately, there were more suitable locations for bike-share stations than could be built given our funding constraints, so we split the Merrifield expansion into two phases,” said Chadduck.

The full report, presented to the Fairfax County Department of Transportation last week, included detailed analysis, strategy, and station placement for 10 stations. The plan would expand bike share along the Gallows Road corridor from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metrorail Station to the Mosaic District, as well as residential areas west of Mosaic and south to Route 50, to connect with large employers in the area, such as Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The 10 bike-share stations proposed by the students are Dunn Loring-Merrifield Metrorail Station; Park Tower; Avenir Park; Hastead East; Strawberry Lane and District Avenue; District Avenue and Penny Lane; Gatehouse Road; Willow Oaks Corporate Drive; Inova Fairfax Hospital Blue Garage; and Inova Fairfax Hospital Main Entrance.

The students estimated that current funding and infrastructure would cover costs of the first phase of 10 stations.

The study also touched upon a possible phase-two expansion north along Gallows Road to connect with Tysons.

“We are extremely thankful and impressed with the effort all the students put toward this project,” said Adam Lind, bicycle program coordinator at the Fairfax County Department of Transportation. “The deliverables provide a broad range of research and recommendations for how and where to physically expand Capital Bikeshare in Tysons and Merrifield, as well as marketing and outreach efforts to grow the membership and ridership of Capital Bikeshare in Fairfax County.”

Lind said that Fairfax County is hoping to implement bike share in Merrifield at some point in the future.

Environmental studios like this one are an integral part of the curriculum in urban affairs and planning at the School of Public and International Affairs in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. They offer student teams the opportunity to help public, private, and nonprofit clients tackle real world planning, policy, development, or design problems.

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New Paper Published

Transportation Research Part D published a new paper I co-authored with colleagues from Virginia Tech and UVA. Steve Hankey and Tianjun Lu lead this paper:

Lu, T., Buehler, R., Mondschein, A., Hankey, S. 2017. “Designing a Bicycle and Pedestrian Traffic Monitoring Program to Estimate Annual Average Daily Traffic in a Small Rural College Town,” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Here is the abstract:

Cycling and walking are commonly recognized as energy-efficient alternatives to motorized transport. Research and practice lack a comprehensive set of methods to assess spatio-temporal patterns of traffic volumes across an entire transportation network. Current non-motorized traffic monitoring programs are primarily implemented in urban areas and for singular components of the network (e.g., off-street trails, specific corridors). Our approach synthesizes ongoing efforts in non-motorized traffic monitoring to estimate Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT), across an entire network in Blacksburg, VA – a small, rural college town. We selected count sites across the network, stratified by street functional class (e.g., major roads, local roads), centrality of the link relative to origins and destinations, and planned bicycle facilities. We collected 45,456 h of pedestrian and cyclist counts using three types of automated counters: pneumatic tube (n = 12), passive infrared (n = 10), and radio beam (n = 3) at both reference locations (n = 4; 1-year) and short-duration locations (n = 97; 1-week) during 2015. We found a strong correlation between manual validation counts and automated counts. We used day-of-year scaling factors to estimate AADT for bicycles and pedestrians and found that temporal and spatial patterns differed between modes. Pedestrian volumes were higher and more variable than bicycle volumes (median [interquartile range] AADT for pedestrians: 135 [89–292]; bicycles: 23 [11–43]); both modes were positively correlated with street functional class, presence of facilities, and proximity to campus. Our approach provides insight for planners or policymakers interested in comprehensive monitoring programs to track performance measures  or for use in environmental and health impact studies.

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Talks in England and Media Mentions

In March I gave two invited presentations in England. One at the University of Westminster for the London Cycling Campaign and one at Oxford University. The talks were titled “Reducing Car Dependence: Lessons from Europe and the USA.” The presentations were mainly based on the papers below:

Buehler, R., Pucher, J., Altshuler, A. 2017. “Vienna’s Path to Sustainable Transport,“ International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, Vol. 11, No. 4, 257-271.

Buehler, R., J. Pucher, R. Gerike, T. Goetschi. 2017. “Reducing car dependence in the heart of Europe: Lessons from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland,” Transport Reviews, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp 4-28.

Our work was also mentioned by two media outlets:

This App Lets Your Company Pay You To Bike To Work

How a European Capital Moved Toward Sustainable Transportation



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Congratulations to PhD Candidate Marc Fialkoff

The post below is taken from my colleague Ralph Hall‘s website. Ralph and I are co-chairs of Marc’s PhD committee.

“Congratulations Marc Fialkoff (PGG Doctoral Candidate) for being selected as a 2017 Eno Transportation Fellow. The Eno Center for Transportation is non-profit foundation whose core mission is the study of emerging issues in transportation policy and the cultivation of future leaders in the field.

Marc is the first student in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech to be selected as an Eno Fellow. As a Fellow, Marc will travel to Washington D.C. in early June to participate in the Eno Center Future Leaders Development Conference.

As a doctoral candidate and a lawyer, Marc’s research is at the intersection of law, transportation policy, civil engineering, and network science. His research focus on freight transportation resilience was awarded a HERE Dissertation Support Grantby Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2016, where he carried out his research into the effect of the Jones Act on freight transportation movements after Hurricane Sandy. His research has been published in the Critical Infrastructure Report and the International Journal for Critical Infrastructure Protection.

Marc’s committee represents the interdisciplinary nature of transportation policy, with committee members from Urban Affairs and Planning, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Law, and Network Science. I currently co-chair Marc’s committee with Ralph Hall, along with committee members Kathleen Hancock, Henning Mortveit, and Jonathan Gutoff.”

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TRB Annual Meeting: Presentations and Impressions



Poster with Jon Wergin about Bikeshare Routes in Washington, DC “Where do Capital Buikeshare Bikes Actually Go?”

Below are the poster and the video:



Presentation at “TRB Workshop on Urban Form Impacts on Transport Energy Use”

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