The health risks of exposure to transportation noise may not command the same attention as those of exposure to particulate matter or motor vehicle crashes. But it turns out that prolonged exposure to noise is a serious matter, with numerous deleterious health effects—from sleep disruption and behavioral changes, to hearing loss, hypertension, and heart disease. New research focusing on Houston, Texas, attributes nearly as many premature deaths to transportation noise as to motor vehicle crashes, and shows that low-income households are at heightened risk of death from transportation noise exposure.
Owing to the rising popularity of ecommerce, expedited deliveries, ride-hailing services, and micromobility options, curb space is in demand now more than ever. Because curbside is a public property, the burden of efficiently allocating this commodity comes down to city officials. However, despite being valuable real estate, a recent study demonstrates how city staff presently do not have the data or tools to efficiently prioritize the distribution of curb space, let alone profit from it.
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.
The implications of California’s SB 743 (2013), which is widely if somewhat imprecisely known as the “move away from level-of-service to vehicle-miles-traveled bill,” became clearer last week, as Caltrans issued guidance on which transportation projects will require evaluation for VMT effects.
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.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has created unique transportation challenges for cities and states. This includes everything from maintaining transit with plummeting ridership to facing a needed economic recovery with major decreases in the taxes that pay for transportation maintenance and improvements. With the CARES Act passed and more stimulus and recovery funding being considered, the national experience with the ARRA funding from the last recession might hold lessons for how to jump-start the economy and job creation.
Traffic forecasts and other projections are often presented as a single line on a graph or number in a chart. But we know—now more than ever—that these predictions are full of uncertainties. The Sacramento Council of Governments (SACOG), for a new study in JAPA, puts hard numbers to some of those uncertainties in order to plan better for them.
A new paper under review presents evidence that exposure to pollution—including that from motor vehicles—reduces the survival rate of individuals who have contracted COVID-19. Those most at risk of death have underlying diseases which may be due to, or exacerbated by, long-term pollution exposure. This adds to the mounting awareness that disadvantaged communities may disproportionately bear the brunt of the effects of COVID-19.
As more data begins to emerge, COVID-19’s impact on traffic crashes and severity is proving complicated. Collisions and fatalities have declined in many places with data available, though not everywhere. However, collision rates and injury and fatality rates appear to be up in a number of cities for both drivers and vulnerable pedestrians once you account for the significant drops in VMT, likely due to higher speeds made possible by less traffic.
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.