New Zealand and Australia can teach us how to keep pedestrians safe

Pedestrian traffic deaths in the U.S. are something of an outlier among high-income countries. While many other countries have decreased—or at least stabilized—the number of pedestrians killed annually, our numbers continue to climb. Responding to this crisis, the U.S. DOT recently adopted a Safe System approach. This represents an enormous shift away from a decades-long operating principle of evaluating the transportation system by its level of service for motor vehicles. FHWA dispatched a team to New Zealand and Australia, two countries that have had greater success incorporating this approach into the DNA of their transportation systems and operations, to learn from their experiences.

Want to increase transit ridership without adding service? Make it easy to get to the stations

As in the United States, many rail transit lines in Sydney, Australia, have imperfect connections to the local street and pedestrian networks. In Sydney, 44 of 178 rail transit stations have entrances on only one side, necessitating long walks for unlucky travelers seeking to get to the hard-to-reach platform. A new report calculates the potential benefit from adding missing links between stations and local networks at those 44 stations. They calculate the increase in accessibility to the platforms from surrounding neighborhoods, then they estimate the effect in ridership from that change.

International perspective: Road safety, design, and alcohol consumption

A pair of international studies from Australia and the European Union examined roadway safety. A number of factors help explain why Australia’s traffic fatality rate is less than half of the U.S. rate. And strict blood alcohol content limits can reduce fatalities but must be coupled with supportive policies that reduce alcohol consumption overall.

TDM study suggests we are overestimating vehicle trip generation rates

In a recent study done in Melbourne, Australia, researchers compared transportation demand management plans at four new residential developments with control sites with similar characteristics. The results showed lower car mode share and trip generation in the sites with TDM plans, but also significantly lower rates of vehicle trip generation than those published in commonly-used sources.