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How We Move

Our population is expected to grow by almost 70 million over the next three decades—and mid-sized cities are expected to grow at three times the rate of the rest of the country. This growth is expected to strain urban infrastructure across all transportation modes. Travelers in cities today face a range of challenges: heavy traffic, a lack of parking, trip planning complexity, and unsafe biking and walking conditions.

Despite these challenges, cities are experiencing a resurgence. Americans— young Americans especially—increasingly choose to live in cities and bike, walk, or take transit, rather than drive, to get where they are going. Smart cities will improve how we move by promoting more affordable and sustainable mobility choices through improved traveler information, intermodal connections, and new modes of transportation that connect people to destinations without needing to drive.

To combat congestion, the Smart City Challenge finalists proposed a wide range of strategies to make alternatives to single occupancy vehicle travel more convenient.  Strategies proposed by a majority of the finalists included:

  • Integrated mobility marketplaces to allow travelers to easily plan multimodal trips, compare trip costs and purchase mobility services.
  • Expanding bikeshare, carshare, and rideshare options.
  • Improving transit service reliability by establishing bus rapid transit corridors, installing signal systems that prioritize buses, and getting real time transit information into the hands of iders.
  • Ensuring the safety of pedestrians and cyclists with pedestrian detection and warning systems on trucks and buses and at busy intersections.
The seven finalists proposed to add more than 1,000 advanced traffic signals and 13,000 vehicles with dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology.

Intelligent Traffic Signals

Building on U.S. DOT research on connected vehicles and adaptive signal control, Denver developed plans to integrate adaptive signal control and smart freeway ramp metering to optimize traffic flow on two major arterial highways. Adaptive signal controls and smart freeway meters adjust signal timing to accommodate changing traffic patterns by receiving and processing data from sensors. Denver will also test using DSRC data from connected vehicles to develop the next generation of dynamic traffic signal control.

Connected Vision Zero Corridors

San Francisco proposed installing multimodal intelligent traffic signal systems equipped with DSRC technology at high priority pedestrian collision locations to improve pedestrian safety, reduce idling, and prioritize transit and emergency vehicles to improve reliability and response times.