Transportation Choices for Reduced Emissions

Transportation and land use planning must be coordinated and consider the community’s unique context. 

Linked Success: Sustainable Transportation and Land Use Planning

Compact complete land use patterns create opportunities for low-emission transportation choices because travel destinations are closer to one another.

  • Compact development decreases trip lengths, increases mode choice, and decreases the need for vehicle ownership.   When new development is infill or contiguous with a high density mixed area the vehicle distances traveled are shorter and present opportunities for alternate modes.

  • Street connectivity translates into more intersections and more route choices.  With more choices, the most direct route can be selected.  

Strategies that help achieve various transportation planning objectives, rather than just energy conservation and emission reductions, represent true sustainable transportation. 

The City of Prince George developed the Active Transportation Plan to guide the development of a continuous, safe and enjoyable Active Transportation Network

The planning process for an Official Community Plan can intertwine sustainable transportation and land uses.  Coordination opportunities include:

  • Street layout and development patterns are long-lasting, and create parameters for sustainable transportation options. This is a key opportunity to develop a multi-modal transportation network plan (see below).
  •  A mix of land uses and concentration of development ensures feasibility of sustainable transportation options, such as transit.
  • Policies supporting balanced transportation are a lead for further transportation planning work, such as mode-focused plans (see below).   

Opportunities for Small Communities

The Fraser Basin Council's Transportation Demand Management: A Small and Mid-Size Communities Toolkit introduces transportation demand management (TDM) and what it takes to implement a TDM strategy.

Small communities can concentrate key services in a transportation hub area, for connectivity and access by multiple modes of transportation. The layout of streets, Transportation Demand Management, and street design (see Complete Streets) to accommodate multiple modes can be influential in shifting transportation modes to those that are more active, like biking and walking.  

A multi-modal transportation network plan can protect and improve walking and cycling infrastructure, which can be strongly supported by a smaller population.  Several communities have invested in successful transit service plans, notably Quesnel and Canmore.  Transportation Demand Management planning for vanpools and telecommuting may also be viable emission reduction strategies for commuting.

Transportation cost analysis can justify keeping schools and community services in smaller communities, and avoid centralized services that impose a mounting travel cost burden that can shut out people who need these services.  

Find more information on Rural Transport Management on the Victoria Transport Institute website:

Engaging Key Players in Transportation Planning      

Transportation Strategic Plan is the City of Surrey’s long range planning document shows how transport, in its widest sense, has a part to play in key policy areas such as the environment, land use, economy, safety and health.

  • Transportation planning is more about community vision and priorities than technical work.   
  •  Successful plans involve many stakeholders, including those with valuable knowledge, and those who will make the plan work.
  • Stakeholders include:  engineers, planners, designers, council members, businesses, community at large, community user groups (cyclists, pedestrians, people with mobility challenges, transit users), collaborating agencies (e.g. transit).

Wide Variety of Transportation Plans

Nelson's Active Transportation Plan demonstrates an understanding that the consolidation of existing policies and guidelines relating to Active Transportation and synergizing the plan with the vision and goals of the new OCP will ensure further progress is made towards creating a healthy, vibrant and sustainable Nelson community.

Three types of sustainable transportation plans are outlined below. These planning efforts yield long-term emission reductions.  How to begin and where to focus efforts depends on the opportunities, interest and unique context of your community.

Multi-Modal Transportation Network Plans

Strategic Transportation Plans

A commitment by City Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a recognized need to make cycling and walking more convenient and safe for the public, and a desire to increase transportation equity provide the main impetus behind the creation of the Terrace Active Transportation Plan.

Concentrate on a strategic transportation opportunity or area of focus. Identify options, strategies, targets and implementation measures for emission-reduction transportation strategies.

Mode-Focused Transportation Plans

The District of Wells Bike Route Feasibility Study evaluates three potential strategies and cost of constructing a bicycle path between Wells and Barkerville.

Focus on how to develop and improve a particular transportation mode with facilities, infrastructure, promotion. Specific modes focuses could be pedestrian routes, cycling routes, or transit plans.


Cycle network planning requires more than just creating bike lanes. It is important to consider road signage, parking, safety strategies, education for both drivers and cyclists. Cost benefit analysis that factors in health, tourism, and decreases in vehicular infrastructure costs can determine help make clear case for allocating budget to cycling infrastructure. Cycling tools on this site are outlined here.

Evaluating Success of Transportation Plans

This guide describes multiple successful active transportation planning iniatives completed by BC local governments under the Community Planning Grant Program. 

The ultimate goal of transportation is to maximize accessibility, defined as people’s ability to reach desired goods, services and activities. Accessibility – optimized with multi-modal transportation and more compact, mixed-use, walkable communities – reduces the amount of travel required to reach destinations.

Conventional measurement of transportation system performance, such as roadway Level of Service and traffic speeds, focus on vehicle travel.  Balanced transportation system performance can be assessed with multi-modal level of service indicators, and checklists for ‘walkability’, ‘bikeability’, accessibility, and transit service.  Resources: Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Measuring Up the North


[1] David Kriger, ITrans Consulting, 2008, Best Practices for Technical Delivery of Transportation Planning Studies

Victoria Transport Policy Institute