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.
In the United States, bicycling mode share hovers in the single-digits, while many European countries enjoy double-digit cycling mode share. The difference may be due to the attention European planners and engineers pay to cycling infrastructure. In Portland, OR, a recently-previewed bicycle lane design guide will become the go-to resource for Portland’s planners and traffic engineers when designing protected bike lanes.
Hawaii has estimated the price tag will be $15 billion to raise, push back, or relocate highways to address concerns over rising seas levels because of climate change. High surf is already damaging some highways, and initial estimates indicate about 15 percent of all HDOT highways will be susceptible to rising sea levels.
Despite many DOTs’ attention to complete streets, pedestrian fatalities are spiking nationwide. One problem is that, even with good sidewalks, in many places controlled crossings are widely spaced, and uncontrolled crossings can be quite dangerous. FHWA’s Every Day Counts program has attacked this problem, last month releasing a clear and concise guide to improving midblock and other uncontrolled crossings. The guide lays out a systematic process for identifying and addressing hazards using several countermeasures.
A recently released report from the City of St. Paul, MN, noted a jump in observed bicycle use after installation of bike lanes. This observation suggests that upgrading or adding infrastructure for bikes has a positive impact on attracting new riders. Other cities have similarly found that mode split and overall bicycle use numbers collected before and after infrastructure investments show important changes to both the safety of the corridor and willingness to use the street for active transportation.
In order to encourage bicycling, cities have been constructing new infrastructure that physically separates cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. Without these facilities, increasing the number of people who bike for transportation may be difficult. However, when trying to build safe bike facilities, many cities are challenged by high-speed arterials cutting through downtowns. These arterials are prime locations for protected bike lanes and may also be state highways. This provides an exciting opportunity for states to work with cities to improve multimodal opportunities on state-owned roads that travel through dense urban areas.