Publication Detail

Sustainable Transportation Terms: A Glossary


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation, UC ITS Research Reports

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Suggested Citation:
Byars, Michelle, Albee Wei, Susan L. Handy (2017) Sustainable Transportation Terms: A Glossary. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-17-09

One of the challenges in developing a consensus around the goal of sustainable transportation is a lack of consensus around the terms used to define and describe sustainable transportation. Our goal in this project was to assemble a list of relevant terms and provide clear and simple definitions. Because it is not uncommon to find multiple terms used to refer to the same concept, we also aimed to differentiate the preferred terms from less preferred terms and terms that should not be used for various reasons. We identified the following terms based on a review of documents from transportation agencies, websites and publications from transportation organizations, and papers published by the academic community, and refined the list in consultation with Ellen Greenberg, Deputy Director of Sustainability at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Primary sources for the definitions are provided in footnotes, and more detail on the sources reviewed is included in Appendix A.

Although these definitions are by no means definitive, and others might disagree with our choices, this glossary may prove a useful resource for those working to advance sustainable transportation. Terms are grouped in the following categories:

- The T words

- Traveling purpose

- Travel modes

- Ability to get to destinations and moving without hindrance

- Facilities that accommodate multiple travel modes

- Terms related to communities burdened by poor public health, quality of life, economic opportunities, or mobility

- Convenience to transit options

- Terms related to vehicle volume and capacity

- Vehicles and people colliding through direct impact

- Transportation terms relating to conserving environmental resources

This study was made possible through funding received by the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies from the State of California’s Public Transportation Account.

Keywords: glossary, sustainable transportation

A Research Report from the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies