Traditionally, transportation system performance has been assessed from the perspective of the automobile. This focus on private vehicle operations and efficiency overlooks not only the number of people in the vehicle, but also users of other modes. As a result of focusing on vehicles rather than people, incomplete information can lead decision makers to choices that have adverse impacts on shared ride drivers and passengers, transit riders, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

Recent trends indicate increased interest (among professionals, researchers, decision makers, and the general public) in a more complete assessment of performance for all modes of travel. Jurisdictions have also placed a larger emphasis on building a network of Complete Streets that provide appropriate facilities for users of all modes.

In response to the interest and in an effort to provide quantitative data for all user groups, Fehr & Peers developed PersonDelay+, a tool that provides a more complete picture of how all users are affected by intersection operations. Instead of just reporting the HCM vehicle delay, PersonDelay+ reports person-delay for each mode. The data needed are routinely collected as part of impact analyses and Complete Streets studies.

Considering efficiency and comfort for people traveling by each mode, the methodology represents the next step in advancing Multi-Modal Level of Service (MMLOS) methods. PersonDelay+ builds upon the successes of previous MMLOS methodologies by increasing transparency in the analysis and better informing decision makers and public stakeholders about the consequences and trade-offs of transportation network decisions for all modes.


Additional Information

Supplements typical auto delay/LOS with equivalent for non-auto modes.

Mode Split Data

Provides mode split data through an intersection or corridor.

Complete Picture

Provides decision makers with a comprehensive depiction of operations at (and changes to) an intersection


Compatible with Checklist-Type Tools

Supplements traditional pedestrian and bicycle evaluations.

Case Study

The San Pablo Specific Plan would articulate a vision for the future of San Pablo Avenue, identify improvements, and adopt context-sensitive regulations that can be applied along its length and to adjacent areas.

El Cerrito, CA

Beginning in 2007, the City of El Cerrito began working on the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan, which would “articulate a vision for the future of San Pablo Avenue, identify improvements, and adopt context-sensitive regulations that can be applied along its length and to adjacent areas” (10). San Pablo Avenue is currently a two and one-half mile section of roadway through the City that acts as a thoroughfare adjacent to the occasionally-congested I-80 corridor. The City hoped to create a framework in which they could attract private investment (through the surrounding land uses) while promoting the use of transit, walking, and bicycling (through infrastructure changes). The City retained Fehr & Peers as part of the consultant team to aid with both the environmental clearance of these efforts and with the analysis and design of the new facilities.

The City had shown a willingness to be progressive throughout the process. In 2011, City Council directed staff to consider increasing allowable building heights and density near BART stations, decreasing minimum parking requirements, and adding more mixed-use parcels throughout the Plan Area (10). In 2013, after six years of work (beginning with the former El Cerrito Redevelopment Agency), staff recommended a Complete Streets element to City Council. As a result of that recommendation, two community workshops were held to review proposed changes and receive feedback from the community. A Technical Advisory Group (TAG), consisting of staff from three cities, two transit agencies, Caltrans, and local interest groups, was organized and the concepts and standards were developed with and reviewed by the TAG. Study sessions with both the City’s Planning Commission and City Council guided the development of the Plan’s components, which were put into place through a charrette with developers and architects in early 2014.

Currently, San Pablo Avenue through the City of El Cerrito is a four-lane road with a median and defined turn pockets in most areas. Parking is generally provided on both sides of the street, and retail uses line the corridor on both sides of the street. The roadway is designated as California State Route 123 through the Plan Area. The Ohlone Greenway, a Class I pedestrian and bicycle path just to the east of San Pablo Avenue, runs through the extents of the City and connects two BART stations within the City. Despite this facility, there is still demand on San Pablo Avenue for bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the day. During peak hours, there is an AC Transit bus along San Pablo Avenue every six to seven minutes, which helps serve more than 14,000 local transit trips to and through El Cerrito. Other regional transit agencies use San Pablo Avenue to connect to the northern BART station, as well.

Though City staff and decision makers were proponents of the Complete Streets approach to the Specific Plan, they wanted more information about the potential impacts that these changes might create with respect to all modes. Several methods for assessment were provided, including four computational methods, two checklist methods, and three combination methods. Based on proprietary research and collective experience, Fehr & Peers recommended that the City incorporate a person-delay (computational) approach and a Built Environment Factors (checklist), or BEF, approach in the Complete Streets Plan. Both methods would be completed for each mode, and provide a set of data that described both the comfort and effectiveness of the facility for each user set.

The BEF approach uses elements of the built environment as a proxy for the quality of service for different modes. The built environment is generally understood to have a strong influence on transportation choices. This approach takes a qualitative view of the built environment and determines the extent to which transportation facility features impact a traveler’s perception of that facility classified by the different modes.

Additionally, standards were discussed with City staff, the TAG, and the public for both sets of calculations. The BEF standards would be that all modes score in the “optimum conditions” category, but that the transit and pedestrian modes would be prioritized, consistent with the community’s values. For person-delay, the acceptable automobile delay would be less than 80 seconds of delay per person (consistent with LOS E or better) and the acceptable transit delay would be less than 35 seconds of delay per person (consistent with LOS C or better). Pedestrian and bicycle delay would be provided for information only, as they would help assess the impact of vehicle capacity improvements on non-motorized delay.

The proposed Plan included a road diet through some sections of San Pablo Avenue, removal of turning lanes, parking space removals and relocations, and improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities throughout the corridor that affect the traffic signal operations at certain intersections. Signal design and phasing to accommodate the cycle track and new crosswalks throughout the corridor were included in the person-delay and BEF analyses.

Data confirmed that auto use was the dominant mode along the corridor and revealed the level of its dominance through the City. More than 90 percent of users were in a private automobile, which provided decision makers important context regarding the impact of the proposed changes. As a result of this information, the City established a goal to decrease the auto mode share by 7 percent (to 85 percent) with the Plan changes.

At some of these locations, accommodating pedestrians and bicyclists, while providing improved transit infrastructure, was not difficult, based both on current operations and the proposed standards above. For example, several intersections along the corridor operate at LOS A or LOS B for automobiles during both peak hours. By re-allocating the right-of-way to better accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, automobile operations may decrease to LOS C or even LOS D, which were trade-offs that the City was generally willing to make. These increases included the new vehicle trips associated with the higher land uses adjacent to the corridor, as well.

However, at some locations that are already operating at LOS D or LOS E, complete provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians would result in significant delay and queuing throughout the corridor, potentially creating safety hazards and increasing transit travel time. In these situations, pedestrian and bicycle facilities were designed to best accomplish the goals of the Plan while not exceeding the LOS E threshold for vehicles.

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