It is no secret that transit ridership has declined in recent years in many cities in the U.S. after years of increases. Ridership dropped by 2.5 percent nationwide from 2016 to 2017. While some have speculated that this decline is due to decreasing gas prices or competition from ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, a new study by McGill University’s Department of Urban Planning suggests that the main culprit could be service cuts—particularly to bus service.
How does the built environment influence the amount people drive? Research by SSTI’s Logan Dredske worked to answer this very question. The focus of his research was to create a framework for estimating vehicle miles traveled based on conditions of the built environment. His goal was to use measures of accessibility as the principal proxy for the built environment. The research also converted vehicle miles traveled into greenhouse gas emissions and evaluated the ability of transportation projects to reduce emissions.
Speed reductions can lower crash risks significantly, confirms a new report by the International Transport Forum, an intergovernmental organization of 59 member countries including the U.S. The research report looks at 11 case studies in 10 different countries around the world. In every case, speed increases were associated with more crashes and more severe injuries, while speed decreases were associated with fewer crashes, injuries, and deaths. The relationships, however, are not linear.
Hit-and–run fatal crashes are increasing in the United States, and most victims are pedestrians and bicyclists. We don’t entirely know why these crashes are increasing, because studies are limited, and data regarding the characteristics of drivers and victims is not extensive. Many hit-and-run drivers get away. Witnesses may not be present. But after analyzing federal data, however, researchers at the AAA Foundation have identified a trend and searched the literature for some potential contributing factors.
Research in Michigan has shown that in-street, yield-to-pedestrian signs can affect both yielding behavior and driver speeds approaching crosswalks to the same degree as installation of a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RFFB) or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB.) This is good news for communities that want to improve pedestrian safety and access but that are seeking a lower-cost alternative to installed beacons.
Research sponsored by Florida DOT details new methods for studying bicycling safety by mounting cameras and sensors on bikes ridden in naturalistic settings. The research gives us insight into the behavior of both bicyclists and drivers, the types of conflicts that occur, and route selection by bicyclists. This methodology holds the potential to improve safety and allow transportation professionals to target engineering, education, and enforcement activities.
In planning and designing for pedestrians, sidewalks are often a good start but rarely make a place walkable on their own. Measuring pedestrian accessibility (the topic of a recent SSTI webinar) depends on two important pieces of information: 1) where destinations are located, and 2) the quality of the walking network connecting to those places. This second point is the focus of two studies.
A new study from the Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California–Davis delves into the effects of ride-hailing (Uber and Lyft) use on other parts of our transportation system. What they find confirms some assumptions and disproves others. Interrelationships between parking, vehicle ownership, use of different forms of transit, and effect on vehicle miles traveled are all examined. The reasons respondents gave for using ride-hailing services may also impact transportation policy decisions.
Consumers might favor vehicles that accelerate a little slower, if the vehicles are also much more fuel conscious and greenhouse gas friendly. That is the conclusion of a study published in Environmental Science & Technology by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, UC-Berkeley, and University of Michigan. The research might also help transportation agencies manage local safety if cars were to accelerate more slowly.
Alcohol and gasoline prices are having unexpected impacts on traffic fatalities, as well as causing damage to economies. A study from an economics professor at Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana explored the relationship between per capita alcohol consumption and traffic fatalities, as well as the relationship between increased gasoline prices and traffic fatalities among young drivers (age 15–24).