High rise apartment building by older apartment building at Highland & Woodlawn, St. Paul

Chart of the Day: Mode Share and Housing Type

Chart showing mode share by housing type

Data Source: 2010 Travel Behavior Inventory, Metropolitan Council

Using the Metropolitan Council’s Travel Behavior Inventory, which is data from surveys of trips people actually make in this region, we can look at how travel differs based on housing type – and there are noticeable differences. This chart looks at all trips (not just a commute) made by residents of the central cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul – based on housing type. In this data set, multifamily housing includes duplexes, triplexes, apartments, condos/co-ops, and townhouses.

People who live in multifamily housing travel almost half as much as those who live in single family houses. Residents of multifamily housing not only travel less, but they make more of those trips on foot, on transit, and by bike than single family house residents do.

The proposed zoning for housing on the Ford site in St. Paul only includes multifamily buildings. Current residents of nearby single family houses worried about how traffic related to the site will impact them should be relieved their new neighbors are much less likely to drive than they are.

Skeptics can go hang out at Highland Parkway and Woodlawn Avenue near the Ford site, where a high rise apartment building is already neighbors with several other apartment buildings, and wait for the nonexistent congestion.

High rise apartment building by older apartment building at Highland & Woodlawn, St. Paul

740 River Drive apartment building by older apartment building at Highland & Woodlawn, St. Paul

6 thoughts on “Chart of the Day: Mode Share and Housing Type

    1. Heidi SchallbergHeidi Schallberg Post author

      Yep. Gotta realize that people are different. But it frustrates me that the assumption is we are all like people who live in single family houses.

      I should clarify here that in this chart, “auto” includes trips as both drivers and passengers. The break outs for those are:

      Single family house residents: driver 70.1% passenger 14.1%
      Multi family building residents: driver 54.7% passenger 8.9%

  1. Karen

    this is from 2010 data? – already seems it may be outdated with expansion of transit and bike infrastructure in twin cities, since then – Green Line and BRT line, many more bikeways, bike lanes and slow and steady trend to city dwellers preferences to walkable neighborhoods and better pedestrian and bike friendly cities.

    However, I’m guessing the qualitative relationships between single family homes and multi-family are fairly similar.

    To that end, if I’m reading this data right, the “trips” part is trips per day? – and it looks like single family homes make 8.6 car trips a day while multi-family makes 3.7 car trips per day that seem significant. Will Ford site residents be average multi-family residents? I suspect older and poorer residents tend to generate less car trips. I suspect many low car users in multi-family live close to LRT, arterial streets, major bus lines but Ford site will probably have less duplexes and many more taller residential buildings. So big guess where they will fall in average of multi-family.

    I also wonder, given the concerns about density and traffic, how would the Ford site compare to a similar sized area of Highland park the is a mix of single family homes, apartments and commercial, like say area from Cretin to Prior, from Ford to Randolph (including Cleveland and a part of St. Kates) and how would extra density versus less trips from multi-family net out?

    I do think we should be cautious about any hard, fast pronouncements about what we are sure the traffic will be like once this Ford site is built out. I’m old enough to know we are seldom great at these types of predictions and often both the opposition and proponents predictions are both wrong in some ways.

    I think its best to keep an open mind and keep looking for data and comparable situations that give us as much insight as possible, all the while knowing we probably aren’t going to nail this and be humbled by results of what actually happens.

    Given traffic seems to main issue opponents have to denser development, it seems there is a great point of agreement both proponents and opponents have, that we should all be able to support and work towards: that we should do everything we can to make this new development encourage walking, biking, car-sharing and transit, thus reducing new traffic in existing residential neighborhoods while serving the new residents well.

  2. Alex CecchiniAlex Cecchini

    I share similar messaging skepticism as Karen. I am fully on board with the idea that trip generation estimates used in the industry overestimate reality, parking requirements often exceed demand, and that the amount of traffic/parking issues caused by new development are overstated by concerned neighbors. Those are important.

    But that doesn’t mean that new development (brownfield or redevelopment) won’t actually exacerbate traffic and parking. Even though this chart shows that even though multi-fam residents take fewer trips per household and drive less often when they do… replacing a single family home with more than 2.3 multifamily units will mean more net vehicle trips per day. There are certainly areas on the Ford Site with proposed zoning per lot around a 2:2 or 3:1 unit density relative to St Paul SFH lots, but there are many others with much higher densities. Neighbors are generally right: there will be more cars after a development than before, and it is difficult (or impossible) to expand streets in the core to accommodate those cars. It is actually true that driving is slower and parking more difficult in Minneapolis and St Paul than Apple Valley and Eagan.

    I think it’s a tough approach to take, but the better one is: Yes, development will bring more traffic and make parking more difficult, but 1) for living in a major metro core city, drivers have it relatively good in Mpls/St Paul and so we can probably manage just fine, and 2) the benefits (tax base, jobs, shopping, environment, etc) of that new development are worth the added traffic headache.

    1. Adam MillerAdam Miller

      How about: making the plans less dense than proposed won’t reduce traffic and congestion and might increase them reduced density causes new residents to shift their mode choices toward driving.

      This evidence isn’t adequate to support that claim, but I still think it’s true.

  3. David Levinson

    This is TBI data, so it comes from travel diaries collected from individuals about all trips per day. The problem is not the raw data, which is as good as it gets without strapping a GPS to everyone (and that has issues too, and the Met Council had a GPS component), it is the aggregation to households without controlling for household size. For obvious reasons, the number of people per household is on average higher in single-family than multi-family homes. Thus the number of trips per HH would be expected to be higher.

Comments are closed.