Local Motion - October 2018

In this issue:  A monthly update on the activities of the Regional Transportation Council and the North Central Texas Council of Governments

Survey: North Texans want more dedicated bike lanes

North Texans want more dedicated bicycle facilities – trails and paths separated from vehicular traffic – according to a survey of 1,900 adults conducted by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. The survey was completed by telephone in both English and Spanish and had a 95 percent confidence interval.

Currently, the region boasts over 700 miles of off-street paths and more than 400 miles of on-street bikeways, with more funded or planned for the coming years. This will include efforts to connect residents to transit stations, jobs, schools, entertainment options and parks throughout the region. The Bicycle Opinion Survey covered a range of subjects, from how often people ride and their comfort level bicycling to bicycling barriers and proximity to bike facilities.

A majority of respondents (55 percent) would like to bicycle more. However, hot weather and a lack of various types of bicycle facilities were the reasons most often identified among all respondents as the top obstacles to bicycling more often. In addition, respondents reported a strong preference for bicycle facilities separated from vehicle traffic such as an off-street path or on-street dedicated bike lanes that are separated from traffic by wide buffers or physical barriers. Only a small percentage of respondents indicated they are comfortable bicycling with traffic on streets that do not have bike lanes separating them from vehicle traffic lanes. The closer respondents lived to a bicycle facility, the more likely they were to report riding a bicycle. This included both on- and off-street facilities, which NCTCOG works actively with local communities to improve.

The survey also sought to gauge safe riding practices. About 50 percent of those who reported they bicycled said they wear a helmet at least half of the time, but usage varied by age of the rider. For the full results of the survey and presentation slides, visit www.nctcog.org/bikesurvey.

Delivery robots coming to Arlington

You’ve heard of autonomous vehicles. Maybe you’ve even seen them traveling the streets. But what about autonomous delivery robots? San Francisco-based Marble, a last-mile logistics robotics company, has announced it will deploy machines to deliver lunch, packages, groceries and other small items in an area expected to include the Entertainment District, the University of Texas at Arlington and other nearby sites. The robots can make deliveries up to two miles away.

This pilot project is intended to improve the efficiency of the delivery of goods and reduce the number of trucks on the roads. Details on a launch date are still being worked out. In August, Marble began mapping sidewalks, an important step to help develop the “machine vision” the robots will use.

Each delivery robot will be accompanied by an engineer at the outset of the pilot project. The goal, however, is for each unit to deliver goods without an attendant. Delivery robots are being tested elsewhere. Marble is testing the delivery devices in the San Francisco Bay area, according to a press release from the City of Arlington.
The deployment will not require City of Arlington funding. Instead, Arlington will provide a “friendly environment for experimentation.” This is another example of Arlington’s embrace of technology.

Arlington has also announced a partnership with Drive.ai to provide autonomous vehicle service in the Entertainment District. The company began a pilot test in Frisco over the summer.

RTC approves funding exchange to help transit-oriented development

The Regional Transportation Council approved a funding exchange and partnership with Trinity Metro and Fort Worth Housing Solutions that will clear the way for construction of a parking facility to accompany a proposed transit-oriented development.

The RTC voted to transfer $11.36 million needed for a parking garage to be built adjacent to the $100 million project to Trinity Metro, which would then provide the same amount of local funds to Fort Worth Housing Solutions to pay for the garage.

NCTCOG staff will then work with Trinity Metro to identify a future project that would receive the RTC’s federal allocation.

Parking garages are eligible for federal funds, but because this one will be a public-private facility, NCTCOG determined that a funding exchange may be more appropriate.

The future federal project with Trinity Metro will be brought to the RTC for approval.

Study examines truck parking needs in DFW

NCTCOG recently completed the Regional Truck Parking Study, which examined overnight and temporary truck parking needs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The study, a recommendation resulting from a comprehensive analysis of the region’s freight system, focused on areas where more truck parking is needed. Currently, there are over 4,000 truck parking spots in the region, but growth has necessitated improvements in this area.

The analysis also identified areas with the most critical truck parking priorities, known as the Corridors of Concern. Recommendations were developed to provide guidance to address these findings. The study recommends the State and region:
  • Make truck parking location information more accessible
  • Make use of underutilized land
  • Develop new rest areas
  • Improve truck parking ordinances and land-use analysis
NCTCOG has produced a fact sheet to help the public better understand the need for additional truck parking. It is available at www.nctcog.org/factsheets.

NDEW establishes another EV record

Another Texas record was broken in September, when 169 electric vehicles gathered at this year’s National Drive Electric Week event in Grapevine. It was the most EVs in one location in Texas, topping the previous mark of 155, established at the same event in 2017. Attendees were able to learn more about the future of EVs from exhibitors.

In addition to having the most Tesla vehicles present of any NDEW event to date, a Jaguar prototype – the I-Pace – was present. This is Jaguar’s first all-electric vehicle, and also the first from a major luxury manufacturer to hit the American market since Tesla.

Despite rainy weather, the event provided people the chance to experience these innovative vehicles up close. This was also a great way for organizations and infrastructure companies in the region to come together and educate members of the community about vehicle charging solutions, available incentives and other necessary information regarding electric vehicle technology.

This year’s NDEW event was a success, but there is always room for improvement. Please take a few minutes to fill out a survey about NDEW to help make next year’s event even better. It is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z7DS8KD.

North Texas Facilities Expo coming to Arlington

The 2018 North Texas Facilities Expo is approaching. Come meet exhibitors from a variety of industries, including aerospace and defense manufacturing, computer and electronic manufacturing, energy, telecommunications and transportation.

The expo, scheduled for October 24-25 at the Arlington Convention Center, will be filled with educational conference sessions and exhibits aimed at meeting the facilities engineering, maintenance, and energy-management needs of attendees.
A portion of the Facilities Expo, known as Managing Green Buildings, is designed to educate facilities personnel on products and services that can help save energy and water. To register for the event, visit www.fent.facilitiesexpo.com.

Public invited to provide input on transportation

NCTCOG will present information on transportation performance measures under development and an auto-occupancy rewards program being considered for TEXpress Lanes, during public meetings in October.

These subject and more will be discussed during a series of three meetings – 2:30 pm October 8 (Arlington), 6 pm October 15 (Richardson) and 6 pm October 18 (Fort Worth).

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act requires NCTCOG to adopt targets for pavement and bridge condition, as well as system performance, which will be reported annually.

Additionally, staff will seek input on a new approach to verifying the number of occupants in vehicles using the region’s TEXpress Lanes.

The automated occupancy-verification technology would help the region move away from the current peak-period discount approach for managed lanes and, instead, provide eligible users with rewards via a mobile phone app. It would also allow carpoolers to register once instead of before every trip.

The meeting will also include an electric vehicle market update. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of the market will be made up of electric vehicles by 2040.
After discussing the EV market in North Texas, staff will identify available incentives for those interested in purchasing electric vehicles. For more information about these incentives, visit www.dfwcleancities.org/evnt. AirCheckTexas, which helps qualifying motorists repair or replace vehicles with emissions problems, is one example. For more on the program and to determine qualifies, visit www.airchecktexas.org.
Watch the Arlington meeting in real time by clicking the “live” tab at www.nctcog.org/video. A recording of the presentations will also be posted at www.nctcog.org/input.