In January, staff from the NJ Bicycle and Pedestrian Resource Center (BPRC) attended the 92nd Annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) Conference held in Washington D.C. The conference features more than 4,000 presentations that address a wide range of topics in transportation policy and practice. Bicycle and Pedestrian topics have been gaining momentum at the conference with capacity crowds attending some of the more popular sessions. For this year’s conference we have compiled a few papers we thought were interesting and wanted to share! While the Conference does offer many more studies than what we have provided here, these 6 reports highlight a small sample of the valuable research presented at the TRB Conference. Click the Banner above to read more about each of the selected publications.
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Advancing Pedestrian Safety at Rail Grade Crossings
Contrary to the declining number of fatalities due to train-vehicle collisions at highway-rail grade crossings, the number of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities at highway- and pathway-rail grade crossings has remained relatively unchanged in the last ten years. While engineering solutions and education and enforcements initiatives have been proposed and implemented, little is known as to their effectiveness to mitigate such incidents. This paper reports on findings from the literature and discussions with professionals in the public and private sectors involved in safety at rail grade crossings. The paper highlights the multitude of factors related to pedestrian safety in this context, and provides an informed discussion for stakeholders to advance safety initiatives.
Classification of Bicycle Traffic Patterns in Five North American Cities
Miranda-Moreno, Nosal, Schneider, Proulx
This paper analyses bicycle ridership patterns using a unique database of automated bicycle counts from approximately 40 locations in five North American cities and along the Route Verte in Quebec. The cities involved in this study are Montreal, Ottawa, Portland, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Count data show that the bicycle volume patterns at each location can be classified as utilitarian, mixed utilitarian, recreational and mixed recreational. Study locations classified into each of these categories are found to have consistent hourly and weekly traffic patterns, despite important differences between these cities in terms of factors such as weather, size, and urban form. Expansion factors for each location type are presented by hour and day of the week. There were differences in seasonal patterns of bicycle activity between the study locations, so different monthly expansion factors are presented for each city. Finally, some traffic volume characteristics are presented for comparison purposes.
Measuring Unsafe Pedestrian Behavior Using Observational Data
Kourtellis, Lin, Gawade
Florida has a severe problem with pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. Recent trends show that Florida’s pedestrian fatality rate is almost double the national average. Traditional safety programs rely on crash data to develop safety campaigns or countermeasures to increase safety. Since crash data are not readily available and a long time has to pass before meaningful data is collected, a “risk score” was developed to measure the behavior of road users at selected sites in Hillsborough and Miami-Dade counties. Surveys were conducted in June-July 2012 in two of the highest pedestrian crash and fatality counties in Florida to collect data and establish baseline conditions. The surveys included opinion surveys of pedestrians and observations of pedestrians and bicyclists, and their interaction with drivers. The locations where the surveys were conducted were selected based on site characteristics including pedestrian treatments or features, crash history, and land use. The two surveys offered insight on the difference between what people know about the law or correct behavior, and what they actually do in reality. Results pinpoint the problems and aid in deciding the focus of safety campaigns and target audience. The risk score showed that the majority of sites exhibited unsafe behavior from pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers. The risk score has the potential to aid in measuring the effectiveness of a safety campaign launched by FDOT focused on increasing the awareness on traffic laws. This way, appropriate countermeasures or funds can be selected for the higher ranking sites first.
Do Complete Streets Cost More Than Incomplete Streets?
For over five years, the City of Charlotte has been applying the award-winning Urban Street Design Guidelines to plan, design, and build context-based complete streets which consider the needs of all transportation modes. This paper intends to answer the most common question the City receives about building complete streets: does building a complete street cost more than a traditional street and, if so, how much? Staff from the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) has compiled information from past projects to determine the range in cost of typical complete street projects. In addition, CDOT staff used the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) database to analyze actual line item bid costs for complete streets project elements such as bike lanes and sidewalks. CDOT staff also examined fluctuations in transportation project construction costs over a five year period. The analysis shows incorporating complete streets elements such as bike lanes and sidewalks slightly increases the cost of a project. However, CDOT staff also determined overall market fluctuations in construction costs plays a more significant role in the costs of a project than do the costs for incorporating complete street elements. Costs for typical complete street elements make up a very small percentage of the overall project cost. In summary, after considering the small percentage of project budgets required to include complete street elements and the significant fluctuation in historical project construction costs, the authors of this paper make the argument for continuing to include complete streets items in project scopes and budgets.
Estimating Annual Average Daily Bicyclists: Error and Accuracy
Nordback, Marshall, Janson, and Stolz
Cities around the country are investing in bicycle infrastructure for which they seek to report bicycle use and safety improvements in order to secure additional transportation funding. A fundamental data need for performing safety studies and reporting facility use is bicyclist traffic volume. To address this need, manual bicycle counting programs have been established that count cyclists for a few hours per year at each designated location. A key issue that arises in designing counting programs (apart from the count locations) is the timing and frequency of the counts required to obtain a reliable estimate of annual average daily bicyclists (AADB). In particular, in which days of the week, hours of the day, and months of the year should counts be collected? And most important to the program cost, how many hours should be counted? This study uses continuous bicycle counts from Boulder, Colorado to estimate AADB and analyze the estimation errors that would be expected from various bicycle-counting scenarios. AADB average estimation errors were found to range from 15% with four weeks of continuous count data to 54% when only one hour is counted per year. This study recommends that counts be conducted for at least twenty-four hours, but perferrably for an entire week, using automated counting devices specificially calibrated for bicycle counting. Seasons with higher bicycle volumes have less variation in bicycle counts and thus more accurate estimates.
Effects of High-Visibility Enforcement on Driver Compliance to Pedestrian Yield Right-of-Way Laws
Van Houten, Malenfant, Huitema, Blomberg,
This study examined the effects of a one-year high visibility pedestrian right-of-way enforcement program on yielding to pedestrians at uncontrolled crosswalks, some of which received enforcement and some of which that did not. The program included four 2-week enforcement waves, supported by education and engineering components that increased the visibility of enforcement. The study produced five results.
- Enforcement led to a slow and steady increase in the percentage of drivers yielding right-of-way to pedestrians over the year.
- The program produced a large change in yielding over the course of the year.
- The program produced higher levels of yielding to natural pedestrian crossings than to staged crossing and the changes in both were highly correlated.
- The effects of the program generalized to crosswalks that were not targeted for pedestrian right-of-way enforcement.
- The amount of generalization to unenforced sites was inversely proportional to the distance from sites that received enforcement.