Online maps are serving as great communication tools for UDOT Planning’s efforts to develop and improve facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.
A coordinated active transportation network for pedestrians and cyclists is an essential part of an integrated transportation system that considers the needs of all users. Recently, UDOT Director Carlos Braceras listed five areas of focus for the agency, and he included integrated transportation:
“UDOT will actively consider how to best meet the needs of trucks, bikes, pedestrians and mass transit when studying transportation solutions and ensure those solutions are applied to the most appropriate facilities. We will strive to provide Utahns with balanced transportation options while planning for future travel demand.”
How can UDOT employees meet the challenge of communicating and coordinating with the diverse transportation user groups? One way is by using online maps as communication tools.
“When you have a precise illustration, which a map provides, it gets everyone on the same page by relaying a lot of information in a concise, coordinated way,” says Evelyn Tuddenham, UDOT’s Walking and Biking Coordinator in the planning division. “Maps contain so much information – it allows viewers to see the ebb and flow in ways that you can’t accomplish just by looking at numbers.”
Maps as communication tools can enhance collaboration and help convey a distinct message. Here are some examples of how maps are being used to help plan a coordinated active transportation network:
The Utah Collaborative Active Transportation Study (UCATS) used online maps on an interactive website to show pedestrians and bicyclists existing facilities and then get feedback about where improvements are needed. Study participants used that information to identify a proposed regional bicycle network that will improve and extend the state’s active transportation system by making facilities safer and improving connectivity to transit.
The outcome of the UCATS study will have a huge impact on the active transportation in Utah by identifying needed improvements and systematically planning ways to coordinated and implement active transportation infrastructure.
The UDOT Walking and biking program is using a series of maps to show cyclists existing routes. The map series idea was proposed by Nick Kenczka, Research Consultant in UDOT Systems Planning and programming. Tuddenham resisted the idea at first, thinking that one map would be simpler.
“It turned out to be a great way to talk to cyclists,” Tuddenham says of the series. “Having a set of maps breaks information down and allows us to present the information in a more coherent way.”
Each map has a separate focus and a separate message. Altogether, the series is an effective tool for cyclists with different needs. Recreational cyclists can check out shoulder widths and other infrastructure elements, the difficulty of the terrain and the length of the route to plan trips. Bike commuters can use the maps to see traffic volume information and to check route. Cyclists can even zoom into specific areas on the maps and take a virtual ride down the road to see what they could encounter on a particular route. The maps are useful tools that can help cyclists make informed travel decisions.
Give it a try
Using maps to communicate is easier than you think. The UPlan Map Center, available on the UDOT Data Portal, allows users to build a custom map, or several maps, quickly and easily. Pre-built maps can also be used and changed to suite communication needs.
Combining a series of maps, like the ones used to communicate with cyclists, takes the help of a UDOT eGIS expert. Contact information for the eGIS team is available on the UDOT Data Portal.
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