Wiki Wednesday: Vehicle-Miles Traveled

Until recently, VMT had been rising steeply in the U.S.

In the second installment of our serialized tour through StreetsWiki, we turn to DianaD’s entry on Vehicle-Miles Traveled:

Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT) is the total number of miles driven by all
residential vehicles within a given time period and geographic area.

We’re seeing more about VMT in the national media as rising gas prices cause people to drive less. Largely absent from the coverage — so far — is a discussion about intentionally reducing VMT through policy. Will that change soon? It should: A built environment where people don’t rely on a car for every trip is also one where expensive gas won’t put such a crimp in household budgets. Diana’s wiki entry highlights one avenue to explore in particular:

Land use — namely sprawl development — is the main culprit. Americans
are living farther from work, school, shopping and basic services. Even
in higher density areas, where amenities may be closer to home, the
road framework can be punishing for pedestrians. It is nearly
impossible to walk in areas that cater to cars instead of people.
Autocentric street design therefore forces even more cars onto
roadways, which further impedes walkers and bicyclists. The vicious
cycle continues and local governments turn to the only “quick fix” that
they seem to know: build bigger highways (at enormous taxpayer expense)
to accommodate the increased traffic.

Got more to add? Any member of the Livable Streets Network can edit a StreetsWiki entry.