PROJECT News: Scan of Communities with Fewer than 10,000 People finds Biking/Walking to be “Wheelie” Popular

Walking and bicycling have become increasingly popular transportation modes as people consider the positive impacts of active living. While there are examples of large, urban areas driving the implementation of infrastructure to support these modes within their jurisdictions, communities with populations smaller than 10,000 people may have limited infrastructure and know-how. Since 84% of communities in the United States are home to 10,000 people or fewer, these geographically distributed communities can have big impacts on transportation trends.

To investigate multimodal transportation options in these small towns, WTI researchers Natalie Villwock-Witte and Karalyn Clouser conducted Case Studies of Communities of Less than 10,000 People with Bicycle & Pedestrian Infrastructure. Funded by five state departments of transportation and the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), the project examined 15 communities across five states (Florida,  Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Vermont).

Researchers traveled to each community to conduct on-site research on existing infrastructure and interact with community members. They collected geo-located photographs and data on active transportation infrastructure and condensed this information into infrastructure maps, conducted interviews, and provided on-site survey distribution. “For rural areas, in-person contact is key,” noted Villwock-Witte. “Local buy-in had a dramatic impact on data collection.”

The resulting case studies for each community highlight examples of active transportation infrastructure and outline characteristics that lead to a successful bike/walk culture. Also, the final report synthesizing all the case studies can provide guidance for other small communities. “These case studies,” said Villwock-Witte, “show that [bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure] does exist and describe how small communities across the U.S. have put it in place. The selected case studies are not the exception to the rule.”  As existing infrastructure, such as state highways through small towns, is reimagined, communities will look to their peers for inspiration noted Villwock-Witte. “I see lots of opportunities to build on this work in the near future and for many years to come.”

The case studies and final report are available on the project page of the WTI website

WTI Employees Recognized for Years of Service

Every October, Montana State University hosts the Milestones in Service Award banquet to recognize employees who reached five-year employment increments during the previous fiscal year. This year’s event included seven WTI employees celebrating significant work milestones. Of special note are David Kack, WTI’s Executive Director and Director of the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM), and Neil Hetherington, WTI’s Visual Communications Manager, for whom 2022 marks 20 years as MSU employees.  Thank you all for your years of hard work and expertise!

20 Years

Neil Hetherington, Visual Communications Manager (WTI)

David Kack, MS, Executive Director (WTI) & Director (SURTCOM)

15 Years

Laura Fay, MS, Senior Research Scientist (WTI) & Program Manager (Cold Climate Operations & Systems)

Rebecca Gleason, MS, PE, Research Engineer II (SURTCOM)

5 Years

Luca Allaria, IT Support Specialist (WTI)

Shawna Page, Field Training Professional (Local Technical Assistance Program; LTAP)

Matthew Ulberg, PE, Director (LTAP)