The Vermont Agency of Transportation, along with a list of partners, has developed a planning tool to identify and prioritize parts of the transportation network most at risk of flooding, fluvial erosion, landslides, or other natural disasters. The need for a forward-looking approach to avoid or protect against roadway destruction, and keep people connected to needed resources, was illustrated in 2011 by the effects of Tropical Storm Irene. The Transportation Resilience Planning Tool was exhibited in a presentation at the 2019 SSTI State DOT Community of Practice meeting in Denver.
An investigation of the “persistence of pedestrianism,” written by Peter Norton, explores the history of both the rise of the dominance of automobiles as personal transportation and the continuing pushback by pedestrian advocates against this dominance from the 1920s to the 1960s. It is a fascinating look at how our perception of the urban landscape and mobility has been shaped by social and commercial forces as well as a rejection of the idea that most Americans drive because they prefer auto travel over walking. Norton instead contends that the cause and effect have been confused in most transportation analyses; people don’t walk, not because driving is their preferred method of travel, but because walking has been made so difficult.
Since 2010, a new design for accommodating active transportation has been slowly growing in popularity in North America. The “advisory bike lane” or “advisory shoulder” design, also known as “edge lane roads,” provides bike and/or pedestrian space on each side of the roadway. Unlike roads with standard bike lanes, ABLs direct motorists to a single lane in the center. When they need to pass an oncoming motorist, both move to the edge temporarily, occupying the bike lanes.
A study from Ohio University evaluating the impacts of a new bypass on Eastern Box Turtles found unexpected results: turtles living next to the bypass did not exhibit heightened stress levels, but not one of them crossed the road over a two year period, including via a culvert.
Smartphones with GPS tracking ability are capable of collecting large amounts of pedestrian and cyclist movement data. But do tracking apps developed largely for athletic or route-planning use capture the big picture of where pedestrians and cyclists travel and what infrastructure they use? The answer, according to a new study in the Journal of Transport & Health, is “no.” These apps miss data from segments of the cycling population, as well as information about the usage of particular kinds of infrastructure by riders with particular characteristics.
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.