States may look to leaders in regulating electric bicycles

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are becoming more popular as more options become available. So far, ten states have updated their laws to reflect this trend and accommodate the technology. An additional 20 states have defined e-bikes but have not fully defined their operation under law. The remaining states have no e-bike laws at all. So far, the technology and its adoption have been outpacing legislation. It is now up to states and localities to determine how to best regulate them.

Do mileage-based congestion fees hit low-income drivers harder?

While there is mounting evidence that demand-based pricing—or congestion tolling—can more efficiently manage highway use, serious concerns continue to arise regarding the system’s disproportionate impacts on low-income drivers. However, a recent study by researchers at Purdue University has found that a less onerous tax alternative may exist—one that combines congestion tolling with mileage-based user fees or a VMT tax.

Houston paper: Metro area worst in nation for traffic fatalities, speeding at fault

Reporters from the Houston Chronicle looked at 16 years of national data for traffic fatalities, and they were shocked by the statistics for their area. Houston has the deadliest overall traffic safety record for the 12 largest metro areas studied, and ranks in the top half in all categories of crashes. They identify speeding as the principal factor in the region’s safety problems, although a number of factors combine to make the area deadly.

Speeding up buses with automated enforcement

Transit-exclusive lanes can speed buses or other transit vehicles and make the services more appealing and predictable. But those nearly-empty lanes can seem appealing to the drivers of private vehicles stuck in traffic or looking for short-term parking or loading, so keeping the lanes clear for transit can be a challenge. Cameras currently being used to enforce speed or red-light running, as well as cameras mounted on the buses themselves, might improve enforcement, as suggested by a recent Mobility Lab post.

Webinar recap: How TDOT is attracting and retaining staff

Many state DOTs around the country are currently grappling with the question of how to attract and retain a talented workforce. On top of these challenges, many DOTs are also being directed to reduce the size of their staff in order to demonstrate efficiency to legislators and the public. The Tennessee Department of Transportation has taken an innovative approach to address some of these hurdles and build a talented and engaged workforce.

Unintended consequences: learning from managing traffic volumes on express toll lanes

Despite the prevalence of anti-tolling sentiment reported in the press, cities like Atlanta and Los Angeles that operate variably priced toll lanes have seen early skepticism give way to heavy use of these lanes by commuters. These successes and the approaches taken by the two agencies to manage increasing demand suggest a need to manage these facilities in the context of the entire transportation system. The two approaches taken by Atlanta and Los Angeles could be used by other agencies struggling with similar issues.

Crowdsourced data gives DOTs added insight on road conditions

The Oregon DOT recently announced a new partnership with Waze—a navigational app that collects crowdsourced traffic information from its users and employs the data in real time. Florida was among the first states to sign an agreement with Waze in May 2014, granting them access to the company’s data in exchange for information about road closures and other incidents in the state. Approximately 30 agencies around the world have partnered with the company, including cities, regional agencies and a handful of states.

USDA documents transportation barriers to food access among low-income households

Recently released findings from the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey provide a valuable glimpse into how low-income people access food and the challenges they face meeting this most basic need. The survey, which involved 4,286 households, provides data on where people bought most of their groceries and how they travel to and from the store.