TDM Frequently Asked Questions

What is Transportation Design Management policy?

Transportation Design Management policy (or TDM) is a way to ensure that when new commercial buildings are built or new businesses move in, they help make it easy for you to get to them however you decide to get there, whether that be by bike, walking, car, or public transportation. In particular, TDM prioritizes reducing the traffic impacts of new commercial buildings. TDM favors active, low environmental-impact transportation options by making them easier, more efficient and more desirable.

How will TDM affect me?

TDM will, over time, make getting around Madison easier. Improvements like bus arrival clocks in elevators, plentiful and easily accessible bike maintenance stations, covered bike parking close to store entrances, or employer-provided bus passes make it easier to stay out of traffic – an issue that will only get worse in the next decade. A well-implemented TDM program will allow you to access more of the city, in a safer, more personally cost-effective way, with less of an impact on our environment. It should also reduce traffic on our streets, which improves safety and air quality, and makes everyone’s lives a little easier.


Will this be bad for businesses?

City staff have been coordinating with the business community since we started discussing this policy, and have made many modifications based on feedback from businesses. The policy now allows for exceptions, provides a menu of options to meet TDM requirements, includes an appeals process, and creates longer timelines for implementation while not diluting the impact of the policy. Ultimately TDM is not a new concept around the country - it’s been implemented in cities like Seattle, WA, Cambridge, MA, San Francisco, CA, Boulder, CO, and Arlington County, VA to name a few. It’s not even new to Madison, but instead of an inconsistent policy that can be confusing for developers and inequitable across the community, the new policy will streamline requirements which we expect will make property development a simpler process.


Will this make the cost of living go up?

No. The cost of complying with the TDM policy should be minimal, and its impacts should save households money. If TDM allows you to reduce your car use, it will reduce how much you spend on fuel, maintenance, parking and other costs of driving. What’s more, some of the mitigation measures would reduce and/or eliminate parking from the cost of rent. For instance, one of the policies - “unbundling parking” allowing tenants to purchase parking if they want or need it, rather than including it with the cost of rent, regardless of whether it is used or not. This would lower rents for those that opt to live a car-free lifestyle. Another policy would provide a “cash-out,” allowing employees that take alternative transportation to work the ability to receive funding for those modes instead of a parking space.


What if I still need to drive? 

TDM doesn’t eliminate driving or parking options, it simply asks businesses to give you more options to get to and from them. The benefits of this policy will be compounded by investments in our bike network, efficiency improvements to come through the Transit Network Redesign, and the speed and frequency of high capacity Bus Rapid Transit service, all working together to redefine the best way for you to reach your destinations. TDM will change the way you navigate Madison for the better and for our future.

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