There are a number of challenges to implementing complete streets projects in rural communities. From gaining support for projects in car-dominated communities to the increased costs of projects caused by infrastructure needs, such as building sidewalks where none exist and installing modern traffic control devices. Despite these challenges, Louisiana is seeing a surge of rural complete streets projects thanks to a partnership between the Louisiana State University AgCenter and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
When transit and mobility options are inaccessible or don’t meet needs, people find ways to travel. For most of the world, this often takes the form of informal transit services. As a result of failed public investment in transportation, these flexible, low cost, and unregulated systems are often the main form of travel in developing countries. Although higher income countries have some forms of informal transport, it is often subsidized and more regulated microtransit. These more flexible options do not replace formal transportation networks, but they do provide a critical service to often overlooked communities.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more workers and employers are reconsidering the impacts of the daily commute. While past research has been done to identify the impact morning commutes have on a worker’s happiness, new research shows the impact it can have on a worker’s productivity.
Cities are looking to the Smart Growth principles of walkability, gentle density, compact development, and multi-use zoning to bring destinations closer together and improve the lives of residents. Providing people an alternative to driving everywhere they need to go can improve a community’s safety and health. It can also distribute access to opportunities more broadly and equitably, and help communities become more economically sustainable. One such widely adopted policy that advances these principles is transit oriented development (TOD).
Transportation agencies at all levels are rethinking how they engage with the public and using feedback to make more meaningful investments. Public perception can be skewed, however, especially when certain groups are excluded from the conversation. Two new studies highlight some of ways perceptions can vary and potentially lead decision-makers astray.
Research continues to shed new light on the post-pandemic changes in travel behavior and access to opportunities. A recent webinar with SSTI and Accessibility Observatory examines the changes in accessibility across the country, while a new study by Replica highlights new commute patterns in two cities. Both analyses show the lasting impacts of the pandemic on peak travel times, giving transportation professionals valuable insights for adapting planning and design in ways that will improve overall access and system performance.
Driving less is one of the keys to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Most states have seen an increase in per capita vehicle miles traveled over the last 25 years. There are exceptions, however, where political action, multimodal investment, or the development of compact neighborhoods acted to pull VMT numbers down, says a new report by the Frontier Group.
The way we currently fund our transportation system is falling short in many ways. MIT researchers anticipate electric vehicles will account for 50% of the national fleet in 15 years and 80% by 2050, which means gas tax revenues will decline by around 30% in just 14 years. Their new study, Replacing the Gas Tax, offers a useful lens for evaluating the alternatives.
The research is clear, increased driver speeds lead to more dangerous roads. For example, increasing the state maximum speed limit by 5 mph results in an 8% increase in the fatality rate on interstates and freeways, and a 4% increase on other roads. Speed is even more dangerous for pedestrians; research shows that a person hit by a car traveling at 35 mph is five times more likely to die than a person hit by a car traveling at 20 mph. These facts highlight the important role speed limits play in creating safe streets, and is one of the reasons the Colorado DOT (CDOT) is rethinking how it determines appropriate limits.
Mixed land uses are associated with greater social cohesion, according to a new study. Dense places without diversity, however, can have the opposite effect. As walkable cities become a growing focus of urban planning and decision making, the social impacts on health, vibrancy, and social cohesion are often harder to quantify. The authors use open-source data to quantify and find correlations between urban infrastructure and form types with social cohesion. Understanding these relationships offers insights into the future of urban planning and decision making that balances density, diversity, and community connection.