Billings West End
Multimodal Planning Study

The Project

The City of Billings doesn’t have direct access to the regional travel model. It is maintained by the Montana DOT and they don’t permit consultants to run it. Thus, directly modifying the travel model wasn’t really an option. The project budget was also not in alignment with the effort necessary to add new mode to a travel model.

The Need

The ask included a multi-modal traffic model using a modeling platform compatible with TransCad.

Our Solution

Rather than trying to forecast the magnitude of bicycle and pedestrian activity, our approach will implement a methodology that determines the relative level of usage for all streets within the study area. Our proposed methodology is the Latent Demand Model, which uses economic, demographic, land use, and built environment factors to locate “hot spots” of pedestrian and bicycle activity. The Latent Demand Model provides a logical policy/analysis framework to identify and prioritize bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

In addition, we propose to apply a quick-response tool developed by Fehr & Peers that resonates with this project; Streetscore+ is a data-driven tool to calculate Level of Traffic Stress (LTS). The methodology examines the characteristics of city streets and how various aspects can cause stress on bicyclists and affect where they are likely to ride. LTS methodology classifies roadway segments into one of four levels of traffic stress. This type of data is invaluable in bicycle network planning efforts because low cost improvements may be possible to create a low-stress environment for commuting and recreational bicyclists.

Our Results

Combining the Latent Demand Model and StreetScore+ provides a clear picture of the corridors most likely to be used (based on land use), and areas that lack the infrastructure (based on built environment and traffic levels). Both tools are ArcGIS-based and can be executed using batch scripting. The platform compatibility between TransCAD and ArcGIS will allow us to utilize the travel forecast outputs (roadway configurations and traffic forecasts) to inform the bike and pedestrian planning tools. Ultimately, the results of the Latent Demand Model and StreetScore+ can be stored in the TransCAD travel model.

Figures:

There are a range of design options for crossing treatments. This chart illustrates how speed, volume, and number of lanes are considered when selecting a treatment.

There are a range of design options for cycling facilities. This chart illustrates how traffic volume and speed are considered when selecting a facility type.