Recent research in Denver aimed to provide a more nuanced answer to the question of how light rail and transit-oriented development have contributed to gentrification. Researchers found that residents generally feel positively about changes to the area around the station studied, with age and tenure in the neighborhood correlated to how they feel about the changes. The most common theme in participants’ verbatim responses was improved “accessibility.”
Housing and transportation are the two biggest expenses for average households in the United States, and geographic location has a significant impact on these costs. But living in areas with affordable housing and transportation is not enough to assure that children will thrive. They must also have access to opportunity.
In planning and designing for pedestrians, sidewalks are often a good start but rarely make a place walkable on their own. Measuring pedestrian accessibility (the topic of a recent SSTI webinar) depends on two important pieces of information: 1) where destinations are located, and 2) the quality of the walking network connecting to those places. This second point is the focus of two studies.
Connecting Sacramento is the first study to incorporate both accessibility analysis and tripmaking data, including data from multiple sources, and assess how they can be used together to guide transportation- and land use-related decisions. This study focused specifically on opportunities to improve first- and last-mile connections to light rail transit in Sacramento, but its findings are widely applicable.
A high-traffic road can divide a community in more ways than one. Researchers haven’t always been able to show what extent such roads can harm a community’s access, health, or quality of life. A new study outlined in the latest volume of the Journal of Transport and Health looked at one corridor to test tools to measure just that.
As highlighted in two recent SSTI webinars in March and April of this year, accessibility measures are becoming more useful in practice. The most notable examples rely on proprietary data and methods, but open source approaches are also gaining traction, while highlighting the need for more reliable, open data. Accessibility measures describe how easily people can reach destinations, usually in terms of travel time, given the existing transportation system and land use patterns.
New research from the Mineta Transportation Institute contributes essential insights into improving transit access for nonmotorized transportation. Researchers assert that a city should develop a low-stress road network while balancing these improvements with the desire for efficient transit service. Most transit riders walk or bike to bus and train stations. However, transit stations often are located along high-speed or multi-lane road networks that effectively limit access to transit for these travelers. Improving the safety and comfort of nonmotorized users could allow transit to capture a larger share of trips.
New applications in big data could soon let us understand precisely how people move around by bike and on foot, for all types of trips, almost anywhere in the country. SSTI has worked with several providers to better understand the available trip data and its useful applications. We recently tested preliminary pedestrian data, provided by StreetLight Data, with promising results.
Transportation researchers and practitioners have long sought other tools to complement or perhaps replace conventional methods—tools that would better analyze trips rather than speed at points in the system, speak to non-auto modes of travel, address land use solutions as well as highway infrastructure, and so on. Fortunately, new sources of data and emerging methods, as well as new-found interest in performance and scenario planning, are yielding the types of tools that the field needs.
Improving access to destinations means raising travel speed or reducing travel distance. Because of siloing within government, transportation agencies have traditionally worried about speed while leaving distances to land use authorities. However, one aspect of distance that transportation agencies can affect without breaking any silos is directness or circuity of travel. A paper from the University of Minnesota examines circuity in transit trips.