The pressing need for safer active transportation infrastructure cannot be overlooked anymore, with 2019 being the deadliest year of the century for pedestrians and cyclists. Although federal spending on active transportation increased from 1990 to 2017, equity advocates claim that these investments are not serving all communities. A recent study that looked at the intersection of bicycle infrastructure and socioeconomic status of residents in 22 U.S. cities strengthens this claim.
Pedestrian bridges may help keep people away from heavy traffic, but only if people are willing to use them. And that often isn’t the case, according to a new study in Accident Analysis & Prevention. People will cross at street level to avoid tall or narrow, constrained bridges, according to the study, and they usually take extra precautions when crossing at street level.
Research and design are based on a test case human who stands in for the broader population. The default human that is the basis for research and design projects is usually a white adult male. As a result, projects often come to conclusions that do not address the needs of women, and some that are outright dangerous. Transportation projects and priorities are not immune to this bias.
With budgets that tend to favor new construction, many DOTs are finding it necessary to prioritize the most urgent repairs. But infrastructure decay is not always easily visible. And deferred or inadequate maintenance may occasionally have catastrophic consequences for U.S. bridges, 40 percent of which are at least 50 years old, and 9.1 percent of which are considered structurally deficient. A new remote sensing methodology may make the job of decay detection easier, and possibly more accurate.
We have written before about studies that find bicyclists in the U.S. break the law at about the same rate as motorists, although for different reasons. Now a study in Denmark finds that, although Danish cyclists break the law at a far lower rate than in the U.S., the prevalence of scofflaw behavior varies based on the presence of bicycle infrastructure, size of the city, and size of the intersection.
Project Sidewalk, newly launched in Seattle, is crowdsourcing the evaluation of sidewalks and ramps with the intent to help DOTs locate and prioritize needed repairs and improvements, educate the public, and collect data to train AI. Poorly planned sidewalks and ramps, those in disrepair or with other impediments can dramatically reduce the mobility of people with disabilities and decrease walking accessibility. The gathered data could eventually be incorporated into interactive routing software such as Access Map, which is aimed primarily at helping sidewalk users maximize their mobility.
Cambridge has become the first city in the U.S. to require protected bike lanes on reconstructed streets, if those streets are part of the city’s 20-mile bicycle network plan. This is not just an internal policy, but is included in municipal ordinance. And being legally required—instead of just part of transportation planning documents—makes future bike lanes “bikelash-proof.”
Bus Rapid Transit has gained popularity in recent decades as a more cost-effective alternative to light rail. In its simplest form, BRT entails setting aside an exclusive lane of traffic for buses so they can travel unencumbered by other vehicles. However, a recent report presents a best practices guide for implementing a more selective form of BRT known as Tactical Transit Lanes or TTL. Unlike a full BRT system, these bus lanes are typically less than a mile in length and are strategically placed along a transit route.
Keeping vehicle occupants and pedestrians safe via engineering standards and street warrants is common practice around the world. But in spite of the growing level of support for bicycling for both commuting and recreation, bike facility design standards are rarely backed by empirical data and are often inconsistent between different cities and states. A recent study presents a methodology that can potentially be used by city planners for predicting the probability of unsafe interactions between bicyclists and motor vehicles based on passing events on 4-lane urban arterials with no on-street bike lanes.
In an attempt to meet CO2 reduction targets, both mandatory and self-administered, cities worldwide are attempting to overhaul their transport infrastructure to limit private vehicle use and encourage more active forms of travel (i.e., walking and biking). While the common assumption among planners is that greater rates walking and biking will lead to subsequent decreases in driving, there is in fact very limited evidence to suggest that this is the case. A new study from New Zealand, however, may shed light on the matter.