Engineers at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are studying a new type of asphalt mixture, called recycled plastic modified asphalt mixture (RPM), that could replace traditional asphalt mix. While limited research on the technology says it is a win-win for both improving longevity of roads and redirecting plastic waste from landfills, VDOT wants to confirm that the new mixture does not result in microplastic entering the environment through water runoff.
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.
Dominion Energy in Virginia is in the midst of buying electric buses for schools across Virginia. When not transporting kids to and from school, the buses will serve as batteries to feed power back into the electrical grid. Using buses for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) power benefits Dominion Energy because it helps smooth out demand on other power sources. Schools get new, clean buses that do not require diesel fuel for free, saving money and cutting emissions around the schools.
Like many cities, Washington, DC, has a problem with double parking and delivery vehicles blocking crosswalks and bus and bike lanes. One experiment in curb management showed good results during its trial run from August to October. Using the curbFlow app, delivery drivers can book an appointment for a loading zone up to 30-minutes in advance. Double parking and illegal U-turns went down 64 percent in the nine zones where it was tried. Delivery drivers like it as well, as they reported that they received fewer parking tickets and avoided circling the block looking for a legal spot.
Smartphones with GPS tracking ability are capable of collecting large amounts of pedestrian and cyclist movement data. But do tracking apps developed largely for athletic or route-planning use capture the big picture of where pedestrians and cyclists travel and what infrastructure they use? The answer, according to a new study in the Journal of Transport & Health, is “no.” These apps miss data from segments of the cycling population, as well as information about the usage of particular kinds of infrastructure by riders with particular characteristics.
With budgets that tend to favor new construction, many DOTs are finding it necessary to prioritize the most urgent repairs. But infrastructure decay is not always easily visible. And deferred or inadequate maintenance may occasionally have catastrophic consequences for U.S. bridges, 40 percent of which are at least 50 years old, and 9.1 percent of which are considered structurally deficient. A new remote sensing methodology may make the job of decay detection easier, and possibly more accurate.
A study from Australia gives some insights into use of social media while driving, looking not just at the incidence, but also what deters the behavior. But while the study began as a general look at use of all social media by young drivers, it ended up focused on the use of Snapchat as the most common mobile phone behavior in the car.
Researchers recently developed ways of combining the vast information available from Google Street View with custom AI programs to generate highly accurate inventories of street signs. The effort focused specifically on stop and yield signs, but these kinds of algorithms could be used to identify other types of infrastructure and even replace or augment time-consuming street audits.
DOTs and planning agencies interested in measuring access to destinations have a growing number of packages and data sources to choose from. Folks not looking to reinvent the wheel are turning to shiny products like Citilabs’ Sugar Access, Conveyal, and Remix. But those with tighter budgets and a little more technical expertise can build on existing platforms like OpenTripPlanner, UrbanAccess, and now the Accessibility Toolbox for R and ArcGIS, featured recently in Transport Findings.
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.