Climate Change Adaptation for Active Transportation: What Are American Cities Doing?
Project Partners: University of Utah, Salt Lake City Transportation Division, Wasatch Front Regional Council
Research Project Funding: $103,078
Project Start and End Date: Oct 1st, 2023 – September 30st, 2024
Project Description: Climate change poses bigger threats to the health and well-being of people walking, biking, and rolling than people in a climate-controlled vehicle. Cities are increasingly asking their residents to avoid driving to mitigate climate change. But what are cities doing to adapt to climate change and create better conditions for active transportation? Research in this area is limited. This project asks research questions about municipal climate adaptation for active transportation. 1. What types of climate adaptation strategies for active transportation are included in plans created by large U.S. cities? 2. How do these strategies consider environmental injustices related to active transportation and heat and seek to address them, if at all? 3. What barriers and opportunities do U.S. cities face when planning for climate adaptation for active transportation? 4. What strategies are used to implement climate adaptation provisions for active transportation? We will review active transportation and climate action plans of the largest 100 cities in the U.S. (research questions 1 and 2), and interview at least 30 planners working on climate adaptation for pedestrians and cyclists (research questions 3 and 4). The findings of this study provide evidence of how planners, elected officials, and advocates can center climate change adaptation in decisions about active transportation. The proposal fits with CCST’s Focus Area 1 “Promoting Climate Culture in All Levels of Transportation Decisions” by identifying novel climate adaptation strategies for active transportation and providing evidence of how cities mitigate vulnerability in their active transportation infrastructure.
US DOT Priorities: This project fits well within the US DOT strategic goal of Climate and Sustainability, aiming to help cities adopt the best practices strategies of climate adaptation for active transportation. The proposal also fits perfectly with CCST’s Focus Area 1 “Promoting Climate Culture in All Levels of Transportation Decisions” by identifying novel climate adaptation strategies and providing evidence of how cities mitigate vulnerability in their active transportation infrastructure.
Outputs: The research findings will be published in at least two peer-reviewed journals. One peer-reviewed publication will be on the “review of adaptation plans” answering the first two research questions. Another peer-reviewed publication will be on the outputs of interviews answering the last two research questions. In addition, the research findings would be submitted and presented at three different conferences organized by the Transportation Research Board, the American Association of Geographers, and the American Planning Association. At least one presentation showing the research findings will be given to project stakeholders and other planners (at APA Utah Conference). PIs will also write a policy paper summarizing the relevant findings for practitioners.
Outcomes/Impacts: A catalog of climate adaptation strategies for walking and biking, including notes about the effectiveness of these strategies. PIs would expect cities in Utah network to adopt the best practices strategies of climate adaptation. Cities in the Wasatch Front planning areas would incorporate the strategies of climate adaptation in their active transportation planning. Also, a list of best practices to create and implement plans that include climate adaptation strategies for active transportation. The research team will circulate this list among research partners. Planners in this network and beyond will get an overview of the potential challenges and opportunities of including climate adaptation in active transportation planning.
PIs expect this project to stimulate more research on climate adaptation for active transportation. Most of previous research on this topic included climate mitigation for transportation or considered climate adaptation at a broader level. Relatively little has been done focusing climate adaptation on active transportation. For practice, PIs expect this project to inform the adoption of climate adaptation for active transportation, improving the health and well-being of people walking, biking, and rolling, and in turn to reduce emissions.
In the short term, planners will become more aware of the menu of strategies that can be implemented to adapt to climate change for cyclists and pedestrians. Presentations and policy briefs will include a menu of adaptation options as well as actionable best practices to implement those options. In the long term, PIs expect that cities and counties will implement more climate adaptation strategies for active transportation. The presentations and policy briefs that we and our stakeholders (SLC and WFRC) will circulate in the mountain states and beyond will facilitate the implementation of such strategies.