City of Redmond will conduct travel behavior study; both residents and workers to be included

The City of Redmond will conduct a travel behavior survey, including both people who live and work in Redmond, between mid-April and June of this year. The project will be a major step toward a Transportation Master Plan update scheduled to begin later in 2010.

The City of Redmond will conduct a travel behavior survey, including both people who live and work in Redmond, between mid-April and June of this year.

The project will be a major step toward a Transportation Master Plan update scheduled to begin later in 2010.

Data gathered from 400 Redmond households, selected at random, and 500 people employed in Redmond, will help city staff to better understand the travel habits of both populations and how to improve mobility in the city and the region.

NuStats, a professional research firm from Austin, Tex. will conduct the survey. Kirkland-based transportation consultants Fehr and Peers will assist in the endeavor.

The unique aspect of this survey is that it will study both the frequency and methods of travel utilized by two groups: Redmond residents and those who work here.

Don Cairns, transportation services manager for the City of Redmond explained, “There are two parts in the survey, with the household part being more traditional and similar to what is done for the Puget Sound Regional Council, to get a sense of how they travel over a typical 24-hour period. The second piece is that we have a population of about 50,000 who live here but the daytime population is about 90,000 with employees from Microsoft and other large corporations.”

Letters will be sent to prospective households, requesting their participation. Willing residents will be asked to complete a brief interview by phone or online. NuStats will then assign a travel day and mail a travel diary for each member of the household, with detailed instructions on how to record their travel for the 24 hours assigned.

Survey participants will be asked about all modes of travel — whether it’s walking, biking, driving a car or riding a bus. They will also be asked about stops they may have added while traveling to or from work, school or elsewhere.

The information gathered will be strictly confidential and studied by impartial researchers, noted Lei Wu, project manager for the City of Redmond.

City staff members won’t see the actual travel diaries and won’t know the names of those who completed the diaries. In other words, they won’t be keeping track of “John Doe’s” trips to McDonald’s or the liquor store.

Whether they’re shopping or going to the dentist, more people traveling at any given time equates to more traffic and less convenience in getting around.

Cairns added, “Just like the (federal) census, an accurate count of people and assessment of their travel will help us to increase funding for transportation in line with growth. It will help us to be more competitive for regional and federal funding.”

Furthermore, said Wu, “Previously, regional surveys did not account for employees in the city.”

The city’s transportation demand manager Erika Vandenbrande and the R-Trip (Redmond Trip Resource and Incentive Program) team will reach out to large employers such as Microsoft, who already actively participate in trip reduction programs.

Meanwhile, Lu and the city’s safety education/public information manager Susan Byszeski will target small businesses to get their survey responses.

Again, survey participants representing Redmond’s employee sector will be asked about their commutes to and from work but also where they go and how they get there throughout the course of their work day.

Along with upticks in traffic during morning and evening “drive times,” traffic congestion also increases around noon in Redmond, when folks from both demographic groups, residents and workers, are out and about in the city.

“As we assemble both pieces of the survey data, it’ll benchmark where we’re at,” said Cairns. “We’ll repeat it about every five years to see what has changed, what’s the same, what’s working and what’s not, to give people better mobility within the city and the region.”

For more information about the City of Redmond’s travel behavior study, contact project manager Lei Wu at lwu@redmond.gov or (425) 556-2749.

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