Recent research examines equity in road fatalities and finds significant disparities across racial/ethnic, income, and geographic lines. The researchers geocoded and analyzed crashes both in terms of where the crash occurred and the home zip code of the driver, a departure from previous roadway safety research that has focused exclusively on the crash locations. The findings of the research have significant equity implications.
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.
A recently published study from Montreal sheds new light on the importance of the built environment in influencing bicycle commuting and the resulting impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers also estimated the effect of bicycle infrastructure accessibility on cycling mode share. They estimated the effect of the new bicycle infrastructure as yielding a 1.7 percent reduction in transportation GHG emissions, roughly equivalent to the estimated effects of replacing the city’s buses with hybrid models and electrifying the city’s commuter trains.
A report released by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researcher Robert Schneider looks at crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists throughout Wisconsin from 2011-2013 to determine the conditions behind the most serious crashes, those resulting in fatalities and serious injuries. Schneider details the type of roadway, time of day, traffic controls, presence of bicycle or pedestrian facilities, and direction of travel for the parties involved. He also looked at age and gender and whether alcohol was involved.
The Colorado Department of Transportation is putting the final touches on the reconstruction of U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder, and their efforts to both accommodate and encourage alternatives to driving alone in the corridor seem to be working. Prior to the completion of construction, a two-year social media-based TDM program launched. The TDM program, managed by 36 Commuting Solutions, is showing success at generating mode shift from single-occupancy vehicles to carpooling and transit.
The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released its biennial benchmarking report, providing a wealth of information on programs, policies, data, and case studies from all 50 states, the 50 largest U.S. cities, plus 18 additional medium-sized cities. At the same time, a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association released a report on the alarming rise in pedestrian fatalities from 2014 to 2015.
On August 20 the Federal Highway Administration posted a new page on its website. The title, Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding, Design, and Environmental Review: Addressing Common Misconceptions, belies the importance of the clarifications FHWA is trying to make. The page addresses more than bicycle and pedestrian matters. It points out that federal funding or rules do not prohibit good road design for all modes, even if it varies from the standards used for decades.
The National Association of Realtors, in collaboration with researchers from Portland State University, just released the results of their 2015 Community Preference Survey. The survey reinforces other reports that younger generations are driving less and prefer communities with multimodal transportation options.
Two recent studies suggest that bias in driver behavior toward other road users could be contributing to enhanced stress levels for certain groups of pedestrians and bicyclists. Recent research documents a difference in drivers yielding to pedestrians based on race in Portland, OR. A second study out of the UK concludes women cyclists are more likely than men to experience “incidents” (passing too closely, verbal harassment, etc.).
Austin, Texas has released a report detailing their 15-year effort to “right size” streets throughout the city, and the results have been positive. Travel times on the studied segments have not increased, crashes are down by as much as 38 percent, and high-risk speeding has significantly decreased. In some cases travel times and traffic volumes have actually increased because the roads operate more efficiently.