In California speed made crashes more deadly during the pandemic

In California, during the stay-at-home period of COVID-19, people drove less and the total number of crashes went down; but the frequency of fatal crashes increased due to drivers driving faster on open roads. New research leverages pandemic-era speed, volume, and crash data in that state to show that in an urban setting adding lanes to relieve congestion and decrease the number of fender benders can make room for risky behavior and higher speeds that increase the severity of crashes.

Planning congestion pricing to avoid burdening the vulnerable

Congestion pricing seeks to better manage the capacity of urban highways by shifting some travel away from peak periods in order to improve traffic flow. For drivers who are low-income, have no alternative but to drive at peak times, and would be financially burdened by paying tolls, this has the potential to be regressive and inequitable. However, a new report from the Institute of Transportation Studies at UCLA suggests that the establishment of congestion pricing affords an opportunity to design the system from the ground up in an equitable way. The authors state that, “Congestion pricing can be introduced with a mechanism in place to protect the most vulnerable drivers.”

Transportation agencies are facing the consequences of induced demand

Induced demand. It’s a concept that used to be popular only among the wonkiest transportation experts, and now gets covered by outlets ranging from the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal. Governing calls it “the almost universally accepted concept” that almost no one understands, while Strong Towns calls ignorance of the concept “professional malpractice.” With new tools and a better understanding emerging, some transportation agencies are now beginning to wrestle with the implications.

Advancing congestion pricing: a new report

A new ENO report on congestion pricing and recent webinar suggests that having a clear purpose and vision in place before implementation is the key to success. In addition, revenue as a goal and sent to general funds is largely unsustainable; equity goals and community leadership will help with implementation road pricing has been shown to control congestion, and the main barriers at this point are political and poor communication.

On-demand transportation services as a complement of public transit

A recent article reports that on-demand transportation can complement existing transit and help cities reduce traffic by up to 15 to 30 percent. Emerging transportation technologies such as TNCs and on-demand transit apps have been much in the news, often with claims that TNCs are adding to urban congestion. In this study, an important conclusion is that the on-demand service can complement public transit networks.

More highways, more congestion

In pursuit of congestion relief, the United States added 63 percent more urban freeway lane-miles between 1990 and 2017. That rate far outstripped the 46 percent growth in urban population. It didn’t work. As widely reported last month, the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report has returned after a five-year hiatus.

New mindset needed to address congestion, says MassDOT

A new report from the Massachusetts DOT dives into the state’s growing traffic congestion to understand the causes and potential solutions. It points to the rapid outward growth around Boston as one of the main causes, and suggests the current situation calls for bold new solutions aimed at connecting people and places while managing demand, rather than simply keeping roads moving.

New York approves plan to implement congestion tolling: Beginning of a new trend?

As part of its recently passed $175 billion budget, the state of New York is allowing for congestion tolling to be implemented in New York City. Lawmakers believe congestion tolling will not only reduce city vehicle traffic levels but also provide a new source of revenue to fund and maintain New York City’s aging subway system. More importantly, however, New York’s plan may serve as a tipping point for other cities in the United States to finally move forward with their own congestion tolling systems.