Kelly J. Clifton

Date of Award

Spring 7-25-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Civil & Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 140 pages)


Trip generation, Institute of Transportation Engineers, Origin and destination traffic surveys -- Case studies, Household surveys, Urban transportation




The purpose of this research is to develop and test a widely available, ready-to-use method for adjusting the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Trip Generation Handbook vehicle trip generation estimates for urban context using regional household travel survey data. The ITE Handbook has become the predominant method for estimating vehicle trips generated by different land uses or establishment, providing a method for data collection and vehicle trip estimation based on the size of the development (e.g. gross square footage, number of employees, number of dwelling units). These estimates are used in traffic impact analysis to assess the amount of impact the development will have on nearby transportation facilities and, the corresponding charges for mitigating the development's negative impacts, with roadway expansions, added turning bays, additional parking or traffic signalization, for example.

The Handbook is often criticized, however, for its inability to account for variations in travel modes across urban contexts. For more than fifty years, ITE has collected suburban, vehicle-oriented data on trip generation for automobiles only. Despite the provision of warnings against application in urban areas, local governments continue to require the use of the ITE Handbook across all area-types. By over predicting vehicle traffic to developments in urban developments, developments may be overcharged to mitigate these developments locating in urban environments despite the lower automobile mode shares, discouraging infill development or densification. When ITE's Trip Generation Handbook overestimates the vehicle impact of a development, facilities are also overbuilt for the automobile traffic and diminishing the use of alternative modes. When ITE's TGH underestimates this impact, adjacent facilities may become oversaturated with traffic, pushing cars onto smaller facilities nearby. Currently, there is momentum amongst practitioners to improve these estimation techniques in urban contexts to help support smart growth and better plan for multiple modes.

This research developed and tested a method to adjust ITE's Handbook vehicle trip generation estimates for changes in transportation mode shares in more urban contexts using information from household travel surveys. Mode share adjustments provide direct reductions to ITE's Handbook vehicle trip estimations. Household travel survey (HTS) data from three regions were collected: Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Baltimore, Maryland. These data were used to estimate the automobile mode share rates across urban context using three different adjustment methodologies: (A) a descriptive table of mode shares across activity density ranges, (B) a binary logistic regression that includes a built environment description of urban context with the best predictive power, and (C) a binary logistic regression that includes a built environment description of urban context with high predictive power and land use policy-sensitivity. Each of these three methods for estimating the automobile mode share across urban context were estimated for each of nine land use categories, resulting in nine descriptive tables (Adjustment A) and eighteen regressions (Adjustments B and C). Additionally, a linear regression was estimated to predict vehicle occupancy rates across urban contexts for each of nine land use categories.

195 independently collected establishment-level vehicle trip generation data were collected in accordance with the ITE Handbook to validate and compare the performance of the three adjustment methods and estimations from the Handbook. Six land use categories (out of the nine estimated) were able to be tested. Out of all of the land uses tested and verified, ITE's Trip Generation Handbook appeared to have more accurate estimations for land uses that included residential condominiums/townhouses (LUC 230), supermarkets (LUC 850) and quality (sit-down) restaurants (LUC 931). Moderate or small improvements were observed when applying urban context adjustments to mid-rise apartments (LUC 223), high-turnover (sit-down) restaurants (LUC 932). The most substantial improvements occurred at high-rise apartments (LUC 222) and condominiums/townhouses (LUC 232), shopping centers (LUC 820), or coffee/donut (LUC 936) or bread/donut/bagel shops (LUC 939) without drive-through windows. The three methods proposed to estimate automobile mode share provides improvements to the Handbook rates for most infill developments in urban environments.

For the land uses analyzed, it appeared a descriptive table of mode shares across activity density provided results with comparable improvements to the results from the more sophisticated binary logistic model estimations. Additional independently collected establishment-level data collections representing more land uses, time periods and time of days are necessary to determine how ITE's Handbook performs in other circumstances, including assessing the transferability of the vehicle trip end rates or mode share reductions across regions.

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