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Transportation Research Record



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Much has changed in the 30 years since non-motorized modes were first included in regional travel demand models. As interest in understanding behavioral influences on walking and policies requiring estimates of walking activity increase, it is important to consider how pedestrian travel is modeled at a regional level. This paper evaluates the state of the practice of modeling walk trips among the largest 48 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and assesses changes made over the last 5 years. By reviewing model documentation and responses to a survey of MPO modelers, this paper summarizes current practices, describes six pedestrian modeling frameworks, and identifies trends. Three-quarters (75%) of large MPOs now model non-motorized travel, and over two-thirds (69%) of those MPOs distinguish walking from bicycling; these percentages are up from nearly two-thirds (63%) and one-half (47%), respectively, in 2012. This change corresponds with an increase in the deployment of activity-based models, which offer the opportunity to enhance pedestrian modeling techniques. The biggest barrier to more sophisticated models remains a lack of travel survey data on walking behavior, yet some MPOs are starting to overcome this challenge by oversampling potential active travelers. Decision-makers are becoming more interested in analyzing walking and using estimates of walking activity that are output from models for various planning applications. As the practice continues to mature, the near future will likely see smaller-scale measures of the pedestrian environment, more detailed zonal and network structures, and possibly even an operational model of pedestrian route choice.