Pedestrians respond to built environment changes, according to study

With consistent growth in most urbanized areas around the world, changes to the built environment to accommodate multimodal travel will become one of our most important adaptations. A recent study from Melbourne, Australia, of pedestrian flows over five years found that built environmental changes accounted for 50-60% of the increase in foot traffic in the downtown region.  

Windshield bias among transportation professionals shifts safety burden onto pedestrians

Transportation professionals who spend more time behind the wheel tend to believe distracted walking plays an overstated role in pedestrian deaths, according to a new Rutgers study. This belief can steer professionals toward trying to correct pedestrian behavior, rather than focusing on the change that would reduce pedestrian deaths most: lowering vehicle speeds.

Cities open streets to create more space for walking, biking during pandemic

Cities across the country are restricting motor vehicle use on some streets and reallocating road space to give residents more space to move by foot and bicycle while still maintaining appropriate distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many cities are finding that residents using active transportation face two problems: drivers speeding on the empty streets and insufficient space to stay six feet apart on sidewalks, paths, and trails.

Researchers say investment in infrastructure has the potential to move short trips out of cars

Can the rise of new personal mobility options lure drivers out of their cars for short trips? Several recent reports say, “yes,” but only if cities resolve both infrastructure and legal issues surrounding their use. At the same time, examination of walking and biking rates from 2001 to 2017 show that better infrastructure and policies are needed to help them supplant driving for short trips. However, cities that have invested in infrastructure have seen a dramatic rise in active transportation.

Study finds rich and poor most likely to walk

As a percentage of all commutes, walking accounts for less than three percent of all trips in the United States. But not all groups in the country walk at the same rate. A new study from the University of Virginia reveals that a distinct socioeconomic divide exists; walking rates are noticeably greater among high- and low-income adults compared to middle-income individuals—a pattern that holds for all trip purposes and levels of land use density.

NACTO releases Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released a guide for cities to prepare for a future with autonomous vehicles. Unlike their previous design guides this blueprint does not present specific design recommendations but instead lays out a vision of how to enhance the city with autonomous technology instead of simply adapting to it.

Where people walk: Two new studies improve “walkability” measurement

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.

U.S. gets “F” for design and policy to support walking while pedestrian fatalities rise

A national coalition of prominent health organizations issued a failing grade to the country as a whole and the vast majority of states when they looked at whether community designs and policies support walking. At the same time, recently-released traffic safety data show a rising number of pedestrian fatalities at a time when driving is increasing.

Road fatalities are disproportionate across both racial/ethnic and rural/urban lines

Recent research examines equity in road fatalities and finds significant disparities across racial/ethnic, income, and geographic lines. The researchers geocoded and analyzed crashes both in terms of where the crash occurred and the home zip code of the driver, a departure from previous roadway safety research that has focused exclusively on the crash locations. The findings of the research have significant equity implications.