Researchers apply travel time reliability measures in modeling and project evaluation

Transportation planners and traffic analysts who typically measure road performance in terms of delay are beginning to incorporate measures of travel time reliability, which describe the hourly and daily variation in travel times due to congestion and transit delay. Two new reports prepared for the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) provide a better understanding of the value of travel time reliability, and also insight into what might be the most appropriate uses for such measures.

Head’s Up! New tools to improve warning signs

A new study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, asks the question, “Can re-designing pedestrian warning signs improve driver reaction time, reduce crash rates, and improve overall pedestrian safety?” The researchers found a significant difference between the reaction times of drivers viewing warning signs depicting a low-speed activity, such as walking, versus similar signs showing people appearing to run.

New research highlights the benefits of two-way communication for transit agencies

Transit agencies use social media such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with stakeholders, but they may be missing out on some of the biggest potential advantages of these platforms by using them primarily for one-way communications. Agencies that engage in a dialogue with stakeholders by responding directly to transit-related questions, concerns, and comments can both improve their image and potentially leverage their relationship with patrons to improve the management of their systems.

Walkable communities could improve cognitive ability among older adults

Numerous studies have supported the linkages between transportation planning and public health. A new study out of the University of Kansas specifically addresses the cognitive benefits of walkable neighborhoods to older adults. Another study found that the prevalence of certain destinations including grocery stores, malls, and restaurants/cafes within neighborhoods inhabited by older adults might increase transportation walking trips among this population.

State DOTs are beginning to embrace protected bike lanes

Protected bicycle lanes, which physically separate cyclists from automobile traffic using objects such as bollards or parked cars, are becoming popular among municipal transportation agencies, bicycle advocates, and less experienced cyclists. Until recently, however, cities often faced pushback from state transportation agencies. Now a growing number of state DOTs are warming up to protected bike lanes and some are even installing them on state routes.

Living near a major roadway raises risk of cardiac death in women

A paper published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, outlines the dangers for women’s health of living near major roadways. Researchers following a group of nurses since 1976 found that those living within 50 meters of major roadways had a 38 percent greater risk of sudden cardiac death than those living more than 500 meters away.