The Seattle DOT, in seeking to improve pedestrian mobility, is installing marked crosswalks in areas with anticipated demand, which is an important shift away from the conventional warrant-based system. The final form that these installations take—paint alone, or paint with enhancements such as medians or flashing beacons—will depend on the location, and ultimately still be a matter of engineering judgment and available funding.
Government agencies sometimes face the criticism that they have difficulty coordinating between various silos. In the transportation sector this may stem, in part, from the historic approach of separating modes into different funding, maintenance, and development streams. While barriers still exist, some agencies are developing coherent multimodal policy to combat this. In other cases incoherence can occur when different segments of the same network fall under the jurisdiction of different agencies, each with its own priorities and maintenance approaches.
The death of a well-known cyclist in Phoenix, Arizona, persuaded the city DOT to scrap changes it had proposed for an essential local street, in favor of protected bike lanes. As the Phoenix New Times reported, the death of a cyclist and downtown ambassador in central Phoenix galvanized supporters to call for protected bike lanes in the area of the crash. The city Street Transportation Department moved away from installing lanes shared by drivers and bicyclists, to painted, buffered bicycle lanes, and, on some blocks, fully protected bike lanes.
Distracted driving has long been a concern of traffic safety advocates and transportation professionals, and the pandemic has potentially made things worse. Reports by data and insurance companies suggest distracted driving contributed to the dramatic recent surge in traffic deaths. Fortunately, a growing body of research shows how road design and the built environment can help make crashes involving distracted drivers less serious.
The much-anticipated Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was finally signed by President Biden on Monday, and state DOTs are preparing for what will amount to around 50 percent more transportation spending than originally planned for over the next five years. The act includes an additional $110 billion for roads and bridges, $11 billion for safety, $39 billion for public transit, and $66 billion for freight and passenger rail (a five-fold increase).
There is a growing public clamor for better access by people to the places where they live, work, and spend their recreational time. However, a majority of transportation investments are spent on moving people through places, typically by driving.
Changed travel behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced congestion and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), even while traffic deaths continue to rise. Evidence shows that open roads, speeding, and other dangerous driving behaviors go hand-in-hand. But what is it about people that leads them to speed and drive dangerously in the first place?
New considerations for setting speed limits have the potential to shift the practice away from the historic norm of service to drivers, and toward the safety and accommodation of all users.
In working with transportation agencies across the U.S., our team often faces questions about the role of safety in accessibility analysis. While we know the safety and comfort of streets clearly impacts access for people on foot or bicycle, the effects of accessibility on overall safety haven’t been clear. Fortunately, leading experts in both accessibility and traffic safety recently teamed up to answer this question.
A recent study found that the leading automated detection systems are less accurate in detecting pedestrians with darker skin tones. On average, the study found that detection was five points less accurate for dark-skinned pedestrians than for light-skinned ones.