Is bigger better?

New analysis of FARS data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points to crashes being more survivable for drivers of large SUVs than for drivers of smaller cars. While driver death is one measure of safety, there are a number of other criteria that offer a richer story of SUV safety, such as their contribution to emissions and increased dangers to those not inside the vehicle.

Post-COVID travel patterns—a survey by the MassINC Polling Group

In a recent public opinion survey conducted by the MassINC Polling Group, Massachusetts residents expected to travel less in the future due to COVID-19’s impact. However, many residents expect to increase their trips by car and decrease trips by transit. A majority of residents polled are open to the idea of drastic changes to the transportation system.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

In the midst of nationwide transit service cuts, more than one million rural households do not have a car

Many transit agencies have been forced to drastically scale back services due to rapidly declining revenues, and rural providers are no exception. Many were already operating on incredibly tight budgets, serving large geographic areas with a small staff of part-time drivers. While it is easy to see how pandemic-related service cuts will impact people in urban areas who rely on transit, the impacts will likely be just as devastating for many rural communities, especially the pockets of rural America with disproportionately low car ownership.

Active travel: A mental health solution

A recent study from the Netherlands found that while active travel might not affect body weight, it does have a significant positive impact on a traveler’s mental health. The results from this study suggest that while active travel does not predict BMI, the decrease in BMI levels as a result of healthy eating habits and physical exercise does result in the uptake of active travel. Conversely, an increase in BMI was associated with decreased affinity toward active travel. On the other hand, the researchers observed a strong relationship between active travel and the traveler experiencing positive emotions.

Canadian non-driving seniors less likely to engage in activities outside the home

A study of out-of-home participation in social and civic activities among Canadian senior drivers and non-drivers sheds light on the problems faced by both individuals and communities to keep older adults engaged and healthy. Of particular concern was the finding that non-driving seniors in rural areas and small towns had a significantly higher decline in out-of-home activities when they no longer had a driver’s license.

Destination access bills introduced in U.S. House

A trio of U.S. House members along with 10 co-sponsors have introduced a pair of bills that would set destination access as a national performance measure. Both bills describe destination access, aka “accessibility,” in terms of travel times by auto, transit, walking, and biking, with consideration for traffic-stress levels on the active modes. One of the bills focuses on access to employment, while the other focuses on access to non-work destinations such as shopping and schools.

Cities open streets to create more space for walking, biking during pandemic

Cities across the country are restricting motor vehicle use on some streets and reallocating road space to give residents more space to move by foot and bicycle while still maintaining appropriate distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many cities are finding that residents using active transportation face two problems: drivers speeding on the empty streets and insufficient space to stay six feet apart on sidewalks, paths, and trails.

Voters across the political spectrum want better transportation options and improved transit

Polling data collected in November and released in March show voters want better transportation options across geographic and party lines. The results indicate that a majority of voters wish they had alternatives to driving, support improving public transit, and want government to fix existing roads before building new ones. While COVID-19 has upended daily life, the results help paint a picture of the transportation system Americans want to see.