Washington State Pedestrian and Bicycle Miles Traveled Project

Krista Nordback, Portland State University


Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is a foundational metric of motor vehicle travel, used throughout the country for the purposes of funding, design, planning, and the study of motor vehicle use from safety and health to economic impacts. No equivalent metric is in common use for bicyclists and pedestrians. The lack of such a metric imposes severe limitations on how these modes are understood, funded, and included in design and planning. To rectify this situation, such a metric can be created. We propose to investigate how to create a pedestrian and bicycle miles traveled (PMT and BMT) metric on the state level and apply the method to the state of Washington. The state of Washington was chosen because Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) collects bicycle and pedestrian counts on roads and paths in more than 30 cities around the state, the widest ranging non-motorized state data collection program in the country and because the state has specific interest in creating, funding, and using such a measure. We propose to investigate multiple methods and compare the results. While PMT and BMT could be computed from national survey data such as National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) and the American Community Survey (ACS), such estimates do not provide facility-level data needed for planning, design, safety studies, and policy decisions, and have been shown to underestimate PMT and BMT. Another approach would be more similar to VMT estimates, which are based on a system of automated permanent and short-duration count stations. Applying this approach to non-motorized travel, count data could be used to estimate PMT and BMT. PMT and BMT computed from counts can provide a performance metric for pedestrian and bicyclist traffic on facilities throughout the state. Other methods will also be investigated. The methods will be compared and evaluated.

Project Details

Project Type:
Project Status:
End Date:
June 30,2015
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC Tier 1 Round 2
UTC Funding: