Alta embraces the notion that maps are a blend of art and science. Planners and specialists uphold this concept in all aspects of their mapping products for master plans, feasibility studies and user maps. The utilization of geographic information systems (GIS) allows Alta staff to efficiently and effectively collect, manage and display spatial data. Data accurately represents real world conditions and allows for visually compelling displays of ideas and possibilities.
Alta’s Suite of GIS Analysis Tools
Alta has developed several unique planning GIS-based tools used to understand and effectively communicate issues related to mobility issues between where people live, work and play. The maps that these tools create help users understand existing cycling and walking conditions as well as create geographically informed, seamlessly connected and safe bicycle and pedestrian networks in a community.
Cycle Zone Analysis (CZA)
CZA is a tool used to evaluate current cycling conditions and future cycling potential. The tool was developed as part of Portland, Oregon's Platinum Bicycle Master Plan to answer questions about which communities will benefit the most from bicycle infrastructure investments. CZA blends demographics, land use and information about the built environment to provide planners and decision makers with geographically informed and equitable outcomes which guide project identification and prioritization. Alta’s planners and specialists tailor the analysis factors to meet the needs of the community and the results will help guide your community to make strategic investments in bikeway improvements and encouragement programs to increase mode share.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Suitability Index (BSI &PSI)
BSI and PSI are “sketch models” used study the nexus of transportation, demographics and land use. These models map “hot spots” around areas where cyclists and pedestrians are likely to be based. BSI and PSI analyze trip attractor and generators to map “hot spots” around where cyclists and pedestrians are likely to be but also incorporate the element of roadway quality, akin to traditional level of service analyses. By applying the analysis to the street network, planners and specialists can infer likely travelled corridors and make suitable typology recommendations. BSI and PSI provide an objective, quantitative and equitable analysis of existing conditions while seamlessly developing a geographically informed inventory of proposed projects.
Bicycle Level of Service Analysis (BLOS)
BLOS is based on the understanding that to achieve meaningful quantities of bicycle transportation, communities must provide adequate bicycle infrastructure. But, not all bikeways are built the same. For example, narrow (less than 5' wide) bike lanes on a congested five- or seven-lane arterial are significantly different than six- or seven-foot bike lanes on a neighborhood collector, a separated lane/path, or a bicycle boulevard. BLOS relies on a series of quantitative inputs, such as traffic speeds, volumes, street width, intersection quality, and path or bike lane width, analyzed through a weighted algorithm. BLOS can also measure the quality of the bicycling experience across a zone, city or region. The resulting index can help explain levels of bikeway usage, guide jurisdictions as to where improvements are needed, and can be an important input into the Cycle Zone Analysis.
Alta’s StreetPlan is a unique corridor-level tool that brings the power of GIS-automation to project feasibility and implementation. StreetPlan allows planners, designers and engineers to evaluate bike lane and shoulder retrofit strategies given existing roadway configuration and public right-of-way information. The complex, built-in algorithm StreetPlan utilizes produces a sequence of possible implementation strategies. Each strategy is displayed on a map using a color ramp, creating a visual planning tool.
Alta's Aggregate Demand model is used to create estimates of bicycling and walking activity based on commonly available Census data. Given this estimated amount of activity, the Alta Benefits model calculates the economic and environmental benefits of bicycling and walking. The Benefits model is often used in grant applications to quantify benefits such as reduced emissions, reduced road maintenance costs, and fuel cost savings.
Master Plan Maps
GIS-based master plan maps link real world features to spatial data. These maps can demonstrate opportunities and constraints, existing conditions, and potential facility locations. This facilitates managing a well organized spatial database of existing and proposed non-motorized networks, provide accurately measured cost estimates and project ranking as well as provide a linkages to Capital Improvement Plans. Utilizing non-motorized networks stored in a spatial database enables planners and specialists to analyze spatial relationships between the built environment and demographic data which guide the network recommendation process.
In addition to master plan maps, Alta provides design services for user maps. User maps are targeted at recreational and commuter users and show preferred routes, facility conditions, and points of interest such as parks and schools.
GPS devices are invaluable tools for field work. Alta collects everything from trail alignments to traffic calming devices with GPS technology and integrates the data with other data in GIS. Accurately recording site conditions significantly improves the quality of our analysis and helps facilitate a comprehensive list of recommended projects.
Pacific Crest Trail Land Protection Inventory
The project objective was to provide an inventory and overview of the parcels that need acquisition to establish the trail and protect the experience of trail users on this legendary 2,650-mile scenic trail from Mexico to Canada.
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L.A. Bike Plan
One focus of the plan was to analyze whether the city's current bikeway system, planned primarily on arterial streets, should be moved to collector streets in order to attract a broader array of potential users. This project employed Alta's StreetPlan tool.Read More >
Portland Platinum Bicycle Master Plan Update
In 2006, the City turned to Alta to help update the Bicycle Master Plan. The goal was to reach Platinum designation by the League of American Bicyclists and the project used the Bikeway Quality Index and Cycle Zone Analysis tools. Read More >