Multimodal Transportation

Multimodal transportation includes walking, biking, transit, rail, cars and trucks.  Multimodal transportation is the movement of people and goods on roadways, including but not limited to, motorists, transit-riders, freight-carriers bicyclists and pedestrians, including those with disabilities.  Providing for transit-riders, pedestrians and bicyclists in transportation projects can improve the mobility, access and safety of all users at the local, regional and statewide levels, and develop a comprehensive, integrated and connected multimodal transportation network.

bike rack on city bus

What is multimodal transportation?

Multimodal is a transportation term.  Multimodal transportation includes public transportation, rail and waterways, bicycle and pedestrian.  Multimodal access supports the needs of all users whether they choose to walk, bike, use transit or drive.  It means more connections and more choices.  Multimodal transportation is designed to be affordable and efficient.  

Multimodal transportation opportunities provide more freedom in how people get around, especially for people who cannot or choose not to drive a car.  Transportation options build more vibrant neighborhoods and economically prosperous downtowns.  Multimodal transportation is a good strategy for economic and community development.  According the Tennessee Department of Transportation, good walking, biking and transit facilities are essential to the continued growth and success of our towns and cities.  The CDC has helpful resources for implementing built environment recommendations to increase physical activity.

What is a Complete Street?

A “Complete Street” is designed for use by people and not just automobiles.  Streets are central to our communities and need to serve many people and purposes.  Complete Streets refocus the importance of streets for all users and not just automobiles.  Complete streets are designed to be safer for all people, especially children, older adults and those with disabilities.  Complete Streets have safety features for walkers and bikers.  Complete Streets increase connectivity using sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, bus shelters and other multimodal transportation options.  Complete Streets are often more desirable in neighborhoods and can spur economic revitalization for business and tourism.  The National Complete Streets Coalition’s website has lots of useful resources for planning, designing, building and maintaining complete streets in your community.  Also, check out this Rethinking Streets evidence-based guide.

What is a Road Diet?

road diet with space for car lane and bike lane

Road Diets are roadway reconfigurations.  A “Road Diet” is a transportation planning option to reduce the number of car travel lanes to achieve traffic improvements.   While it may seem reducing driving lanes will slow traffic, Road Diets have been shown to often increase traffic flow by reducing traffic congestion.  Road Diets have safety features for walkers and bikers.  Road Diets are often low cost alternatives.  According to the Federal Highway Safety Program’s Road Diet Information Guide, the primary benefits of a Road Diet include enhanced safety, mobility and access for all road users and to accommodate a variety of transportation modes.  Road Diets can include on-street parking, bike lanes, turn lanes and other traffic engineering options.  Road Diets are often more desirable in neighborhoods and downtowns especially for business and tourism. 

Is multimodal transportation in demand?

Yes.  According to the American Public Transportation Association, nearly 70 percent of millennials use multiple ways of getting around cities or suburbs.  The largest generation in U.S. history, millennials are entering the workforce and neighborhoods in big numbers.  These younger people are more interested in smart phones and social media than driving.  Millennials are credited with being flexible and picking the most practical mode of transportation to get around.

The baby boomer generation is getting up in years.  Older people want to age in place within the same neighborhood where they lived, worked and raised a family.  Multimodal transportation options are needed by older people who may not want to or not longer able to drive.  Also, whether they cannot afford a car or do not want to own a car, some people simply cannot or choose not to drive.  For these people multimodal transportation is a critical need.

What is the Transportation and Health Tool?

The Transportation and Health Tool (THT) was developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in partnership with the American Public Health Association.  The tool provides data on a set of transportation and public health indicators that describe how the transportation environment affects safety, active transportation, air quality and connectivity to destinations. The tool also provides information and resources to help agencies better understand the links between transportation and health and to identify strategies to improve public health through transportation planning and policy.

What is TDOT’s multimodal policy?

Recognizing multimodal transportation choices benefit people across Tennessee, the Department of Transportation (TDOT) considers multimodal transportation in their projects and grant awards.   TDOT’s Multimodal Access Policy (PDF) encourages safe access and mobility for users of all ages and abilities through the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of new construction, reconstruction and retrofit transportation facilities.  The policy was designed to meet the needs of motorists, transit-riders, freight-carriers, bicyclists and pedestrians.  Through the inclusion of multimodal transportation options, Tennessee can have a well-planned and designed transportation network.

Government partners

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Active People, Healthy Nation
Transportation and Health
BE Active: Connecting Routes + Desintations

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT)
Multimodal Transportation Resources

U.S. Department of Transportation
Bicycle and Pedestrian Program
Small Town and Rural MultiModal Networks (PDF)
Transportation and Health Tool

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 
Smart Growth - Transportation

Additional resources 

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center 
Facility Design

American Public Health Association (APHA) 
Transportation and Health

National Complete Streets Coalition

Rethinking Streets
An Evidence-based Guide to 25 Complete Streets