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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A new survey commissioned by People for Bikes finds that, along with concerns about infrastructure and cars, equity-related issues loom large among the obstacles to higher bike ridership.
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.
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.