New study details non-emission particulates

Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles deserve a lot of attention, but particulates from vehicles are also a significant health concern. Tiny soot particles can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Larger-sized particles can contaminate nearby fields and groundwater, and deliver a significant dose of microplastics to surface waters. Of the microplastic particles polluting surface waters, 30 percent originate from tire wear, according to new research by German and U.S. scientists.

Aging Boomers could cause transportation shakeup

Suburban Baby Boomers hoping to age in place are beginning to put new demands on our transportation system, according to a recent New York Times article. Once they can no longer drive, many older folks find themselves needing in-home services or drivers that can offer more assistance than many taxi or TNC drivers are used to providing. If Baby Boomers begin to sell off suburban homes, the real estate market and transportation planners may need to make adjustments.

U.S. gets “F” for design and policy to support walking while pedestrian fatalities rise

A national coalition of prominent health organizations issued a failing grade to the country as a whole and the vast majority of states when they looked at whether community designs and policies support walking. At the same time, recently-released traffic safety data show a rising number of pedestrian fatalities at a time when driving is increasing.

A toolkit to measure and value “community severance” due to traffic

A high-traffic road can divide a community in more ways than one. Researchers haven’t always been able to show what extent such roads can harm a community’s access, health, or quality of life. A new study outlined in the latest volume of the Journal of Transport and Health looked at one corridor to test tools to measure just that.

Google’s Street View cars are measuring and mapping air pollution

Last week, Google and the Environmental Defense Fund published the first in a series of maps with data on pollution levels collected using Google Street View vehicles. The initiative, a partnership between EDF, Google Earth Outreach, and San Francisco-based company Aclima, will make it possible to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible previously. The project team hopes the body of data created will help regulators and local and state officials develop a greater understanding of pollution levels on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, making it possible to target investments and other interventions to the populations facing the greatest health risks.

Google’s Street View cars are measuring and mapping air pollution

Last week, Google and the Environmental Defense Fund published the first in a series of maps with data on pollution levels collected using Google Street View vehicles. The initiative, a partnership between EDF, Google Earth Outreach, and San Francisco-based company Aclima, will make it possible to assess air pollution at a level of detail that was nearly impossible previously. The project team hopes the body of data created will help regulators and local and state officials develop a greater understanding of pollution levels on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, making it possible to target investments and other interventions to the populations facing the greatest health risks.

Crashes fuel U.S. death-rate increase

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made headlines last week for showing a decrease in Americans’ life expectancy in 2015—a reversal of a decades-long positive trend. One element of the brief report is of special interest to transportation practitioners: The population-adjusted “unintentional injury” rate jumped by 7 percent, passing chronic lower respiratory diseases to rank No. 3 as a cause of death. Causes of unintentional injuries include crashes, as well as drug overdoses, falls and other less-common mishaps.

Motor vehicle dependence is making us sick: How transportation and urban planners are part of the solution

A recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet focuses on prevention strategies for the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) stemming from an unsustainable reliance on a transportation system reliant on fossil fuels. Such diseases include such as traffic violence, obesity, or respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. To address this crisis, the authors makes strong arguments that transportation and urban planners must coordinate across departments and accept their professional roles in determining how people travel.

U.S. scores poorly in relationship between transportation sustainability and human capital

A paper published by University of Connecticut Engineering and Geography faculty, titled Relationship between quality of life and transportation sustainability in the United States and selected European countries, offers a look at whether the burdens of transportation systems are resulting in gains for the nation as a whole. And the U.S. does not stack up well in the report.