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).
Access to current and comprehensive crash data provides essential information for anyone seeking to improve the safety of road users and study crash locations and causes. However, this data is not widely available to transportation safety engineers, law enforcement, local and regional planning organizations, and elected officials. In an effort to address this information gap, the Connecticut Transportation Safety Research Center developed a repository to make crash data publicly accessible, accurate, and up-to-date for decision makers and the general public.
Bicyclists break traffic laws, but they do so at a lower rate than either drivers or pedestrians. It would be safe to say that almost 100 percent of roadway users break traffic laws. Yet the general public’s perception of lawbreaking behavior by drivers and bicyclists is vastly different. This difference may be linked to the low mode share for transportation bicycling, and your personal reaction may be linked to whether you get around by bike and whether you yourself are mostly law-abiding in the same situation. In addition, bicyclists’ lawbreaking ways are rational and generally safe.
A study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference linked higher child death rates from motor vehicle crashes to several primary factors, including low rates of child seatbelt/car seat use and a lack of red light cameras. In addition to comparing child fatality and injury rates in cities that had red light cameras and those that did not have them, the study also looked at rates in cities that had removed or turned off the cameras and compared them to similar cities that had maintained them.
A recent study done by researchers at University of California-Berkeley has answered several questions many have had since car-sharing began by showing that car2go members in five North American cities reduced both their annual vehicle miles traveled and also their greenhouse gas emissions. Members also sold or delayed purchasing vehicles, resulting in each car-sharing vehicle removing seven to 11 private vehicles from the road.
A report released by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researcher Robert Schneider looks at crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists throughout Wisconsin from 2011-2013 to determine the conditions behind the most serious crashes, those resulting in fatalities and serious injuries. Schneider details the type of roadway, time of day, traffic controls, presence of bicycle or pedestrian facilities, and direction of travel for the parties involved. He also looked at age and gender and whether alcohol was involved.
Research in the last ten years has linked walkability, improved pedestrian environments, mixed-use development, and even older housing stock—a proxy for neighborhoods built for walking as opposed to driving—with improved public health measures related to weight. A new longitudinal study from McGill University is the first to study changes in body mass index over a relatively long time period as a function of walkability.