New study links low-cost and free recreation facilities near work sites with active commuting

A recently released study has added further detail to our understanding of the link between commuting mode choice and workplace and environmental variables. The study linked residential proximity to transit stops and employer-provided free or reduced-price transit passes to commuters’ likelihood of choosing transit. It also linked shorter commuting distances and the availability of bike parking at workplaces to commuters’ decisions to bike or walk to work.

Walking and biking form ‘third pillar’ of transportation in Wasatch Front plan

In its newly released 25-year Regional Transportation Plan, Utah’s Wasatch Front Regional Council—which controls more than half of available statewide transportation funds—makes active transportation one of its three major transportation pillars, in addition to highways and transit. The plan includes more than 1,600 miles of proposed bike lanes and improvements, including several hundred miles that coincide with planned road construction.

Innovative infrastructure and bikes on trains encourage commuting

Cities and states are trying to make biking easier, safer, and more predictable. Across the country, improved connections with transit or installing cutting-edge, on-street bicycle facilities are encouraging more people to embark on non-auto commutes. Three examples illustrate ways to help bicyclists access transit and feel more comfortable on streets with traffic.

Learning from better bicycle/vehicle crash reporting: Improving safety and infrastructure

A recent study published in the journal Injury Prevention makes a strong case for better bicycle/motor vehicle crash reporting as a way to improve bicycling safety. The quality of these crash reports currently varies widely, with helmet use and use of other protective equipment being the only data consistently recorded across all fifty states. Additionally, inadequate reporting that leaves out essential crash-site details results in a poor understanding of the causes and remedies for these crashes. This knowledge gap limits the ability of facility designers and transportation planners to respond with improved facilities for all road users.

Removing curbs, lane markings, and signage to create a better street

In an effort to create a safer, more inviting environment for walkers and bicyclists, the City of Chicago is beginning construction on its first “shared street” project. The idea behind shared streets, also known as woonerfs or living streets, is to erase the boundaries between uses and question the hard and fast rules that govern driver behavior.

Head’s Up! New tools to improve warning signs

A new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, asks the question, “Can re-designing pedestrian warning signs improve driver reaction time, reduce crash rates, and improve overall pedestrian safety?” The researchers found a significant difference between the reaction times of drivers viewing warning signs depicting a low-speed activity, such as walking, versus similar signs showing people appearing to run.

Portland app developer aims to count more bicyclists

A Portland app developer may change the way we count bicycle traffic if his $50 device works as planned. It would allow cities to place counters in many more locations and count at more times of the day, capturing a truer picture of where, when, and why people bike. As new infrastructure is built or changes are made to make a route more bike-friendly, it would be much easier to install a counter and see changes in bike traffic patterns.

Vision Zero spreads across the U.S.

In 1997, Sweden undertook a road safety project with an ambitious goal: No traffic fatalities or serious injuries. A core principle of Vision Zero was that, “Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society.” Now the goal of zero traffic deaths is spreading in the U.S., principally in cities, but some states have also adopted Vision Zero plans.

Roads designed for speed undermine safety initiatives

In response to the growing share of traffic fatalities nonmotorized users represent in the U.S., the U.S. DOT has made bicycle and pedestrian safety a high priority, state laws are beginning to address the needs of nonmotorized road users, transportation agencies are installing new types of facilities, and cities are stepping up traffic enforcement. All of this, however, is being done within a framework that has for decades prioritized high-speed travel—arguably one of the greatest obstacles to pedestrian and cyclist safety. This has played out in many ways, but particularly in the design process.