DENVER, April 29, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — When the COVID-19 pandemic response started in early Spring 2020, drop-off of single-occupancy vehicle traffic across the country was extraordinary. As millions of people stayed home, air quality improved, noise pollution decreased, and there was an unexpected glimpse into a world without quite so many cars. The traffic data now available provides new perspective on the future of transportation for Galloway & Company, Inc.’s traffic engineers.
Current Trends and Their Possible Implications
The data shows that reduced travel by car and public transit are trends that could persist.
Streetlight Data‘s online vehicle miles traveled (VMT) monitor aggregates and displays daily counts of vehicle miles traveled, tracked by every county in the United States, compared to the average figure in January 2020. Even now, more than a full year since the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, metro areas are still experiencing lower VMT averages.
Reduction in nonessential travel has been tracked by Unacast since February 2020. In the Denver metro area, the greatest reduction in nonessential travel occurred in April 2020; however, the December data still shows a reduction between 50 and 65%. Overall, nonessential travel remains lower across many areas of the United States.
An impactful behavioral change that could have long-lasting implications on traffic is the explosion of online shopping. While most transportation-related data points show a significant decline compared with 2019, e-commerce has rocketed upwards. Personal online shopping had grown from 10% of the retail market in 2017 to 16% just before COVID-19 hit the United States. Online shopping nearly doubled in April 2020 and was still about 57% higher in June, according to Bazaar Voice Network.
Additionally, COVID-19 has created significant disruptions in parking demand. Predicting lasting behavioral changes that may impact parking is dependent on several factors:
- Increased Long-Term Work from Home: Employers seeking to reduce in-office density by rotating who works in the office or encouraging workers to telecommute may reduce the demand for parking.
- Office Layout and Footprint: Employers may also look to permanently increase floor area per person to assist with social distancing. This may be both a near-term impact and also a future design concept that could result in review and adjustment of required parking ratios.
- Resistance to Density: In an effort to escape dense, urban centers, more people may look to the less-populated suburbs. Coworking spaces may reduce the need for a large, central office. What impact will a new era of suburban renewal have on parking demand? Will smaller, satellite office spaces increase the likelihood of foot and bike traffic?
Looking to the Future
The COVID-19 crisis is bound to facilitate new conversations around transportation issues and planning. It is a chance to be deliberate and thoughtful about long-term opportunities, and to take advantage of changing behaviors and systems.
Galloway & Company, Inc. is a multidisciplinary design firm with expertise in engineering, architecture, survey and land planning.
Galloway & Company, Inc.
Brian Horan, PE
Transportation Team Manager
6162 S. Willow Dr., Suite 320
Greenwood Village, CO 80111
SOURCE Galloway & Company, Inc.