Hit-and–run fatal crashes are increasing in the United States, and most victims are pedestrians and bicyclists. We don’t entirely know why these crashes are increasing, because studies are limited, and data regarding the characteristics of drivers and victims is not extensive. Many hit-and-run drivers get away. Witnesses may not be present. But after analyzing federal data, however, researchers at the AAA Foundation have identified a trend and searched the literature for some potential contributing factors.
A new enhancement to a bicycle detection and counting device solves a problem and improves safety for bicyclists at intersections. The new addition to the Iteris Smartcycle technology allows bicyclists waiting at a red light to be sure they have been detected, that the light will change, and that the green light will be sufficiently long for them to finish crossing the intersection.
The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released a guide for cities to prepare for a future with autonomous vehicles. Unlike their previous design guides this blueprint does not present specific design recommendations but instead lays out a vision of how to enhance the city with autonomous technology instead of simply adapting to it.
While major automakers rush to promote the next level of autonomous features and release videos of hand-free driving, serious questions have been raised about whether autonomous vehicles will be able to safely co-exist with bicyclists and pedestrians. A recent essay from a researcher in robotics—written after a test drive in a Tesla—points out the problems posed by bicycles for AV programmers and drivers. Attentive human drivers will still be needed until those problems are solved.
The Florida Department of Transportation has achieved a major milestone in its efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. In late April, FDOT issued a draft of the new FDOT Design Manual, which integrates a context-sensitive Complete Streets approach and will replace the agency’s current Plans Preparation Manual. FDOT has also released a draft of its new Complete Streets Handbook to accompany the Design Manual. SSTI spoke with Billy Hattaway, P.E., former Secretary of FDOT District 1, about the Complete Streets implementation efforts.
Crash data on reported collisions may not be telling the whole story about whether our streets are safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. A recent study revealed that crash data for road users may be significantly misinterpreting the actual level of safety that streets provide for bicyclists and pedestrians. Researchers set out to collect “near-miss incidents”— incidents when bicyclists or pedestrians barely avoid a collision with another road user.
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.
Bicyclists break traffic laws, but they do so at a lower rate than either drivers or pedestrians. It would be safe to say that almost 100 percent of roadway users break traffic laws. Yet the general public’s perception of lawbreaking behavior by drivers and bicyclists is vastly different. This difference may be linked to the low mode share for transportation bicycling, and your personal reaction may be linked to whether you get around by bike and whether you yourself are mostly law-abiding in the same situation. In addition, bicyclists’ lawbreaking ways are rational and generally safe.
As part of an ongoing collaboration between the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies MNDOT, this research report details the implementation of various types of automatic counters for nonmotorized traffic and assess how to estimate average daily and miles traveled.
For almost a decade, per-capita VMT has shown a flat to downward trend. But don’t be fooled; people are traveling. Transit ridership is up. Biking and walking for transportation continues to increase. Car-sharing and ride-sharing services are seeing a boom. New technologies, including smart phone applications and interactive web sites, give these intrepid travelers the tools they need to decode the mysteries of public transit and investigate the growing availability of non-motorized travel options.