Monday, March 12, 2012

Pedestrian Research News

Time again to curl up with a cup of coffee and your favorite guilty pleasure: research papers! Or is that just me? / Dan Burden

Effects of Pedestrian Perceptions of Safety: An Examination of Pedestrian Crossing Behavior in Marked versus Unmarked Crosswalks

This study revisits the "false sense of security" argument often just to justify eliminating marked crosswalks. Using surveys and observations at marked and unmarked crosswalks, the study examined pedestrian attitudes and behavior towards crosswalk marking. Survey data collected showed many pedestrians believe they have the right of way only in marked crosswalks.When observing pedestrian behavior in three different crosswalk treatments, however, pedestrians surprisingly showed higher levels of cautiousness in marked crosswalks than unmarked crosswalks. These findings suggest that marked crosswalks do not give pedestrians a false sense of security or correlate with reckless behavior.

Neighborhood Crime and Travel Behavior: An Investigation of the Influence of Neighborhood Crime Rates on Mode Choice – Phase II

This report describes the second phase of a research study conducted by the Mineta Transportation Institute evaluating the impact of neighborhood crime on mode choice. While it has always been assumed that the threat of crime influences the decision to walk or ride a bike, there has been little research on the topic of neighborhood crime and travel.

The analysis in this study shows that high crime neighborhoods tend to discourage residents from walking or riding a bicycle. As the authors describe, "When comparing a high crime to a lower crime neighborhood the odds of walking over choosing auto decrease by 17.25 percent for work trips and 61 percent for non-work trips." The researchers also investigated the impact of neighborhood crime on the access portion of transit trips (walking, bicycling, or driving to a transit stop). They found that  this part of the transit trip is sensitive to neighborhood crimes, and that in high crime neighborhoods people forgo walking and bicycling in favor of driving to transit stations.

Road-Safety Management in Brazil, Russia, India, and China

This study examined road-safety management in Brazil, Russia, India, and China, evaluating recent crash statistics, key governmental agencies in charge of road safety, road-safety programs, influential organizations outside of the government, key research institutes, and major barriers to improvement. It includes statistics on pedestrian safety in each country (notably, pedestrians represent the largest category of roadway fatalities in all countries except China, where they fall second to motorcyclists), and describes potential interventions identified (if not implemented) to address pedestrian safety concerns. A key finding is that while each country evaluated has governmental organizations with responsibilities for road safety, none of these countries has a single lead governmental unit responsible for national road safety. All the more reasons pedestrian advocacy organizations like Brazil's ABRASPE (noted in the paper) are so important in these countries.

Integration of Bicycling and Walking Facilities into the Infrastructure of Urban Communities

This project provides extensive guidance for communities looking for ways to encourage walking and biking, highlighting the best programs and practices in three California cities. Using surveys, field observations, and analysis of secondary data from previous studies, the report identifies key themes/lessons about integrating cyclists and pedestrians into the transportation system and develops a set of guiding principles that other communities can use to improve the walkability and bikeability of their neighborhoods.

2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index

For several years, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has been sponsoring evaluating traffic safety culture in an effort to better understand attitudes and behaviors related to roadway safety.  This report presents the results of the fourth survey, conducted from June 6 through June 28, 2011 with a sample of 3,147 U.S. residents ages 16 and older. Particularly interesting are some of the findings related to distracted driving. From the study:
  •  Cell phone use while driving is widespread. More than 2 in 3 drivers report talking on their cell phone while driving in the past month, and nearly 1 in 3 say they do so fairly often or regularly.
  • There is somewhat strong social disapproval toward using a hand-held cell phone while driving (71%), but nearly half of all drivers believe incorrectly that most others actually approve of it. People are generally accepting of hands-free cell phone use.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Americans (71%) support restricting the use of hand-held cell phones while driving, but only a small majority (53%) support an outright ban on using any type of cell phone (including hands-free) while driving.

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