IIHS: Trade-Offs when Mandating Slow E-Scooter Speeds

Many cities are turning to speed limiters for electric scooters to address concerns about rider safety and conflicts with pedestrians, according to new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Yet mandating low travel speeds may push more-scoot use onto sidewalks, the group’s research suggested.

[Above photo via IIHS]

“Our results show that restricting scooters to low speeds offers a trade-off,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president of research and the study’s lead author, in a statement.

“At slow speeds, riders are more likely to choose the sidewalk over the road,” she added. “That puts them in less danger from cars but could mean more conflicts with people on foot.”

IIHS noted that e-scooter use has blossomed in the United States since the first shared e-scoot program officially launched in 2017. But as ridership has increased, so have injuries and citizen complaints. In response, many towns and cities have required speed limiters for shared e-scooters, with a 15 mph maximum speed the common limit.

To help understand the effect of different maximum speeds, IIHS researchers compared rider behavior in Austin, TX, and Washington, D.C. Austin caps shared e-scooter speeds at 20 mph, while Washington, D.C., makes the maximum speed 10 mph — one of the lowest in the United States. Neither city has an effective way to require speed limiters on privately owned scooters, IIHS noted in its study.

In both cities, e-scooter riders overwhelmingly rode in bike lanes where they were available. Where there were no bike lanes, however, riders in Washington, D.C., were 44 percent more likely than Austin riders to choose to ride on the sidewalk – and were more likely to favor the sidewalk despite lower vehicle traffic volumes when compared to the 16 Austin observation sites.

Overall, however, riders tended to choose the sidewalk when motor vehicle traffic was heavier, as well as on arterials and two-way roads. In contrast, the researchers recorded an increase in e-scooter riders in vehicle travel lanes on weekends, possibly because of lighter traffic.

E-scooter riders are doubtless safer from fatal injuries when they’re not sharing the road with motor vehicles. However, the net impact of sidewalk riding on less serious injuries to e-scooter users and pedestrians is unclear. A previous IIHS study showed that most e-scooter rider injuries in Washington, D.C., happened on the sidewalk but also that injuries that occurred on the road were more severe.

“E-scooter users clearly take risk into account when choosing where to ride,” said IIHS’s Cicchino. “Many are also conscious of the risk of hitting a pedestrian. [But] slowing down the fastest sidewalk riders should help prevent crashes and reduce the severity of injuries when e-scooters hit pedestrians. The clear preference for bike lanes also gives communities another reason to focus on expanding their bicycle networks.”

The researchers also analyzed rider behavior in the central business district of Washington, D.C., where sidewalk riding is prohibited. Despite the ban, IIHS found that two-thirds of e-scooter users rode on the sidewalks at locations without bike lanes that area – noting that riders in the central business district without bike lanes were also 38 percent more likely than riders in Austin to choose the sidewalk over the street.

There’s little evidence sidewalk bans are any more effective elsewhere. Nevertheless, two-thirds of U.S. communities are considering them or have them in place already, according to a 2022 survey by the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program.

Others are mulling banning e-scooters from all or certain roads. Improvements in e-scooter technology could offer an alternative solution, IIHS noted, with some e-scooter companies now deploying systems that can detect when their e-scooters are on sidewalks.

As this technology matures, it could be used to apply separate speed restrictions for sidewalk riders or prevent sidewalk riding altogether in key locations, IIHS noted.

University Unveils Distracted Pedestrian Prevention App

Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham recently unveiled a new smartphone-based application called “StreetBit” that uses Bluetooth beacon technology to prevent pedestrians from becoming distracted while navigating road crossings.

[Above photo by the UAB]

The school said the StreetBit app sends auditory and visual warnings to a distracted pedestrian’s smartphone as they approach a street corner where Bluetooth beacons are installed.

new study co-written by five UAB researchers shows that the application is not only helpful, but also cost-effective by providing a template of how existing data sources can be leveraged to do cost-benefit analyses for any interventions designed to enhance pedestrian safety.

“We hope the template developed in this study can facilitate large-scale implementation of any intervention designed to prevent pedestrian fatalities and injuries by providing policymakers with information on the net benefits of the intervention,” said Jillur Rahim, first author of the study and statistician II in the UAB School of Public Health, in a statement.

“The findings can lead to significant cost savings for the states and, most importantly, save pedestrian lives by facilitating large-scale adoption of such programs,” Rahim added.

UAB said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that more than 7,000 pedestrians were killed in the United States because of crashes involving motor vehicles in 2020, and that part of this issue can be attributed to excessive smartphone-related distractions.

For its study, UAB researchers analyzed pedestrian injury and death rates, expected costs per injury, and prevalence of distracted walking and estimated that StreetBit, or similar interventions, can potentially save between $18 million and $29 million annually in Alabama alone.

Even under the most conservative scenario, StreetBit could yield an estimated net annual benefit of $11.8 million for the state, the researchers said.

The UAB claimed its analysis – entitled ‘Cost–benefit analysis of a distracted pedestrian intervention’ and published in Injury Prevention – is the first U.S.-based study to demonstrate how existing data can be leveraged to predict the net monetary benefits of distracted pedestrian intervention programs.

Kansas DOT Issues Revised Active Transportation Plan

A revised active transportation plan or ATP recently issued by the Kansas Department of Transportation seeks to boost walking, bicycling, safe wheelchair use, skateboarding, and non-motorized vehicle mobility options across the state.

[Above photo by Kansas DOT]

Developed with extensive input from state residents – with guidance from various state agencies and partners as well as national and local experts in planning, design, and safety – the new plan is expected to serve as a guide for Kansas DOT and communities statewide on how to include and promote active transportation when planning roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure projects.

“Providing access to safe, direct and continuous routes for people whether they are driving, walking or cycling is essential for a healthy multimodal transportation system,” said Calvin Reed, acting secretary for Kansas DOT, in a statement.

“The vision of the ATP is for Kansas to be a place where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds have safe and convenient active modes of travel available throughout the state,” he noted.

“This plan provides communities with information to develop active transportation opportunities through improved planning, design and partnerships with state agencies,” added Matt Messina, multimodal bureau chief for the agency.

“Whether Kansans use active transportation regularly, rarely or somewhere in between, infrastructure that supports all modes of transportation is critical for residents,” he pointed out.

Kansas DOT plans to host “Bike, Walk, and Roll” webinars starting May 24 to detail how local communities can help implement its new ATP. The agency is also hosting in-person “ATP Summit” Sept. 20-22 to offer more insight on the transportation options within the new plan.

State departments of transportation across the country are beefing up efforts to provide more active transportation options to their residents.

For example, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working on its first-ever active transportation plan – a policy toolkit that can be used internally and by Oklahoma counties and towns as engineers and designers look to develop more people-friendly infrastructure.

The plan will address walking, biking, “wheelchairs and mobility scooters, pedal and electric scooters, electric bikes, skateboards, and other similar wheeled vehicles,” according to a website developed by the agency that details the plan’s contents.

The finished product will be more of a policy guide than a rule book, said Shelby Templin, an Oklahoma DOT certified planner who is heading up the plan’s development.

“We’re hoping this will guide our engineers and designers, in-house, as well as provide a starting-off point for smaller communities that may not have the resources,” she said. “It also will give the multi-modal group more of a leg to stand on for project development.”

The agency said its Active Transportation Plan is expected to be completed this summer and opened to a 30-day public comment period. In the fall, Oklahoma DOT expects to submit the plan to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission for approval.

The Washington State Department of Transportation unveiled a formal Active Transportation Plan in December 2021 – a plan that subsequently won the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards contest’s “People’s Choice Award.”

Will ‘Happiness’ Be the Next Key Transportation Metric?

Could “happiness” become a Key Performance Indicator or KPI tracked by state departments of transportation very soon?

[Above photo by the Minnesota DOT]

Dr. Yingling Fan, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, believes it is inevitable that state DOTs across the country will eventually benchmark “happiness of the people” for whom they build infrastructure as a KPI, right up there with on-time, on-budget, and safety metrics.

“Traditionally in transportation, it’s always been about getting you from Point A to Point B quicker,” Dr. Fan explained in an interview with the ETAP Newsletter. “And when you over-emphasize efficiency, you kind of minimize the human experience. So, I would say happiness should be a new performance measure for our transportation systems where we can maximize the human experience.”

Fan has tested this idea with a pilot program in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where she developed a Transportation Happiness Map. A GPS-based mobile application captured commuters’ routes and their transportation modes (car, bus, bike, rail, or walking). After the commute, they were asked which emotions they experienced on the trip, including happy, meaningful, painted, sad, tired, or stressed.

The study concluded that people commuting along a scenic riverside route were the happiest with their commute, while bicycling won out as the happiest mode of transport.

Traditionally, biking and walking have been considered “inferior modes” by transportation officials because they are slower means of travel, Dr. Fan said. But that type of analysis does not factor that “the biking and the walking are happier than the driving.”

“We know that our built environment can affect our emotions,” Dr. Fan explained. “So, from an urban planner and a transportation engineer perspective, I feel like there is a responsibility for us to understand the impact of our infrastructure on people’s emotions.”

Dr. Fan pointed out that public transit agencies routinely measure its customers’ levels of satisfaction, which Fan argues is really a measure of how happy the service makes the customer. “They don’t call it happiness, but it’s a pretty close concept, right?”

Dr. Fan has found a willing partner in the Minnesota Department of Transportation, where Nissa Tupper is the director of transportation and public health planning. Although Tupper did not participate in the happiness map project, she did appear in a documentary about Dr. Fan’s work and is an enthusiastic supporter of the research.

“I think that focus on emotional experience is new for most of us in transportation,” Tupper said. “We talk about levels of service and modes, but people talk about picking up their kids from daycare and not driving over potholes,”

It may take some convincing to get some state DOTs to measure something as subjective as people’s happiness, but Tupper said the research is showing “a lot of promise” and should be taken seriously.

“Yes, we need measures to understand how we’re doing,” Tupper said. “We also need the flexibility not to quantify everything all the time.”

Dr. Fan believes the research she and others are doing on happiness eventually could be incorporated into the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA process. “If you look at the current shifts in the transportation industry, previously, we didn’t even count the pedestrian traffic as traffic,” Dr. Fan said. “Now, there is this movement, this momentum, to recognize the benefits of those greener transportation modes, and I hope that happiness could be one of the benefits associated with it.”

WVDOT Issues Funds for Alternative Transportation Projects

The West Virginia Department of Transportation recently issued $9.7 million worth of Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program grants to fund 38 projects in 22 counties across the state.

[Above photo by WVDOT]

“We’ve learned that investing in our cities, towns, and beautiful parks is one of the best ways to attract tourists and improve the daily lives of our residents,” explained Governor Jim Justice (R) in a statement.

“This program provides millions of dollars to make some of the best places in West Virginia more accessible, which will also enhance visitation throughout the state,” he added. “The positive economic ripple effects will be off the charts, and I couldn’t be prouder to approve these well-deserved initiatives.”
Administered by WVDOT, grants via the West Virginia Transportation Alternatives and Recreational Trails Program – which receives funding from the Federal Highway Administration – helps towns and cities build and improve sidewalks, lighting, walking paths, rail trails, and more.

According to the FHWA, its Recreational Trails Program or RTP provides funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.

The agency said that federal transportation funding seeks to boost “recreational activity” such as hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles.

The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021, reauthorized RTP funding from federal fiscal year 2022 through 2026 as a set-aside from the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside under the Surface Transportation Block Grant, with the amount set aside equal to the state’s FY 2009 RTP apportionment.

Oregon DOT Website Tracks GHG Emission Reductions

The Oregon Department of Transportation recently unveiled a website that tracks how the state’s public agencies are collectively reducing greenhouse gas or GHG emissions across Oregon.

[Above photo by the Oregon DOT]

The Oregon Transportation Emission website pulls together regulations, programs, funding, goals, and partnerships into one place, then rates progress across six transportation categories toward the state’s goal of reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Currently, Oregon is on track to reduce GHG emission to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, according to Oregon DOT.

Overall in Oregon, emissions from transportation represent 35 percent of total statewide GHG emissions, according to the latest state data.

“Our objectives are to support reductions in how far and how often people drive, and for each mile driven to be clean,” noted Amanda Pietz, administrator for the agency’s policy, data, and analysis division, in a statement. “Overall, we’re doing well to reach our 2050 goals, and we have plans to improve in some areas to get us all the way there.”

The website was created by Oregon DOT in partnership with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Department of Energy, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. It is based on the Statewide Transportation Strategy: a 2050 Vision for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction, and progress is tracked against many of the strategy’s goals.

The Oregon DOT noted that recent state regulations governing GHG emissions from cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles or SUVs — alongside a shift to electric vehicles or EVs — should yield the “biggest reduction” in such emissions in the coming decades.

Meanwhile, areas with the “most room for improvement” where GHGs are concerned are reducing vehicle miles traveled — how far and how often people drive — as well as reducing GHG emissions from larger trucks and transit vehicles. The Oregon DOT said “progress can be made” in those areas via investing in active modes like walking, rolling and biking; improving transit services; pricing the transportation system; and enacting land use policies to support shorter trips.

States and localities are engaged in similar emission reduction activities across the country as outlined in a knowledge session held during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2023 Washington Briefing, held February 28 through March 3 in Washington, D.C.

Concurrently, at the federal level, the U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Environmental Protection Agency signed a memorandum of understanding or MOU in September 2022 to reduce GHG emissions associated with the transportation sector while concurrently ensuring “resilient and accessible mobility options” for all Americans.

Colorado DOT Issues Grants for Local Mobility Projects

The Colorado Department of Transportation recently issued $617,400 in grants to support 12 local mobility programs across the state – helping cities and towns reduce traffic congestion while offering residents travel choices beyond driving in a car alone.

[Above photo by the Colorado DOT]

Those grants, issued by the Colorado DOT’s Office of Innovative Mobility, seek to help various local communities strengthen their “transportation demand management” efforts. Increasingly being adopted by cities and states, transportation demand management aims to provide travelers with more travel choices than simply single-occupant vehicle driving – choices that can include mode, route and time of travel and work location.

The agency said in a statement that common transportation demand management strategies focus on promoting transit usage; offering micro-mobility options, such as bikes and scooters; improving pedestrian infrastructure; crafting smart growth policies; deploying intelligent transportation systems; building managed roadway lanes; and encouraging telework and “e-work” options.

Colorado DOT said those approaches are used most often in large urban areas, but many smaller communities can benefit from them as well. Examples of the programs the agency is supporting this latest round of local mobility grants include:

  • $50,000 to the City of Denver to scale up its shared micro-mobility program, which now provides a bike- and scooter-share system.
  • $38,400 to the City of Durango to help it improve its transportation demand management software and launch the city’s first-ever e-bike rebate program.
  • $50,000 to the City of Fort Collins for a pilot project to subsidize carpool and vanpool programs for first- and last-mile travel, along with a separate $50,000 grant to help develop a web-based or app-based portal to allow paratransit clients to schedule their own trips and receive real-time information on vehicles.
  • $50,000 to Summit County and various partners to fund a micro-transit feasibility study to provide first- and last-mile service to transit-dependent and disadvantaged communities. This study builds on years of work between partners to target the most successful options for the least served communities.

State departments of transportation across the country regularly support a variety of local mobility projects via grants and other funding options.

Indeed, a panel of state DOT and local government executives convened during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2022 Spring Meeting in New Orleans to detail how collaboration between federal, local, and tribal agencies – among other stakeholders – is critical to addressing a variety of mobility challenges nationwide.

To aid in those efforts, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – a division of the U.S. Department of Energy – introduced a new online tool in October 2022 to help transportation planners design more efficient and environmentally friendly mobility systems for both urban and rural areas.

Oklahoma DOT Crafting First-Ever Active Transportation Plan

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is working on its first-ever active transportation plan – a policy toolkit that can be used internally and by Oklahoma counties and towns as engineers and designers look to develop more people-friendly infrastructure.

[Above image by the Oklahoma DOT]

The plan will address walking, biking, “wheelchairs and mobility scooters, pedal and electric scooters, electric bikes, skateboards, and other similar wheeled vehicles,” according to a website developed by the agency that details the plan’s contents.

The finished product will be more of a policy guide than a rule book, said Shelby Templin, an Oklahoma DOT certified planner who is heading up the plan’s development.

“We’re hoping this will guide our engineers and designers, in-house, as well as provide a starting-off point for smaller communities that may not have the resources,” she said. “It also will give the multi-modal group more of a leg to stand on for project development.”

The agency said its Active Transportation Plan is expected to be completed this summer and opened to a 30-day public comment period. In the fall, Oklahoma DOT expects to submit the plan to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission for approval.

Right now, an Oklahoma DOT consultant is analyzing about 1,000 citizen surveys and results from 10 online workshops, alongside the development of “scenario planning” sessions by the agency – sessions that examine situations involving active transportation in order to determine which infrastructure tools work best.

The rise in pedestrian deaths across the country is also giving some added urgency to developing the plan, Templin pointed out. “We basically create intersections or hot spots where, theoretically, we’d be having an issue with crashes or a high number of pedestrians,” she explained.

The department also is researching and reviewing best practices from other states that already have Active Transportation Plans, as Oklahoma DOT is one of a handful of state departments of transportation that do not have such a plan, Templin said.

[Editor’s note: The Washington State Department of Transportation unveiled a formal Active Transportation Plan in December 2021 – which won the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards contest’s “People’s Choice Award” – with the Kansas Department of Transportation developing one in December 2020 and the Ohio Department of Transportation launching one in July 2019.]

The Active Transportation Plan development process, which kicked off in the fall of 2022, might not have happened except for an assumption Oklahoma DOT made about what would be in the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA enacted in November 2021.

“We thought that all states would have to have an Active Transportation Plan, so the conversation here was already starting,” Templin said. When the IIJA did not include an Active Transportation Plan mandate, “we were already planning for it, so we decided to do it now because we didn’t want to have our hand forced into it.”

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic the transportation habits of state residents became another “deciding factor” in the development of an active mobility strategy, she noted. The pandemic “shifted people’s minds to realize that not everyone has to drive a car,” said Templin. “There are other options.”

Like every state, Oklahoma has its own transportation issues that don’t fit neatly in a one-size-fits-all template, so those situations must be incorporated into the plan.

“I think in Oklahoma, it’s pretty common to live a longer distance from where people work,” Templin said. “So, it’s not always going to be about commuting – you look for more realistic opportunities. I live 35 miles from work, so I’ll never walk or bike to work, but I live a half-mile from a 7-11.”

National Collaborative Effort Launched for Trail Development

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy or RTC recently launched a new national effort aimed at creating a “new community” where public leaders, advocates, and transportation professionals can come together to advance the development of trails and other active-transportation networks across the country.

[Above photo by RTC]

Dubbed the TrailNation Collaborative, this new “community effort” seeks to fill what RTC describes as an “unmet need” for peer learning and collective action in order to leverage funding from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA, enacted in November 2021, to create a connected system of trails, sidewalks, and protected bike lanes in every community in America.

“This momentum is a result of decades of advocacy, the determination of the trail-building community, and the ingenuity it takes to envision a future where trail networks are embraced as fundamental to the quality of the places where we live, work, and play,” said Liz Thorstensen, RTC’s vice president of trail development and primary developer of the TrailNation program, in a statement.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity moment for trail networks,” pointed out Ryan Chao, president of RTC. “Together, the TrailNation Collaborative and its hundreds of change agents will lead a paradigm shift to incorporate trail networks as equitable and essential infrastructure in America.”

The group also noted that national trail use increased 9.5 percent nationwide in 2022, nearly on par with 2020 levels, which was the most significant year for trail use on record, according to its most recent analysis.

Concurrently, the IIJA more than doubles funding for trails – emphasizing the important role trails play in encouraging more walking and biking as climate and equity tools.

Additionally, RTC said the IIJA established a new program that provides dedicated funding for the planning and construction of safe and connected trail and active-transportation networks, and long-distance spine trails, the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program or ATIIP.

Since then, according to RTC, trail, and active transportation networks have proven competitive in the majority of federal transportation programs for which they’re eligible – including in the multimodal RAISE program, where the majority of projects have accounted for the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians, and most recently, the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, included project earmarks for trails, walking and biking in 29 states.

Concurrently, state departments of transportation across the country are working to incorporate trails into current and future infrastructure projects under their purview.

For example, in September 2022, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet began construction on the first phase of a $4.1 million Dawkins Line Rail Trail project in Eastern Kentucky.

Meanwhile, in July 2022, the Connecticut Department of Transportation began work on the Putnam Bridge Trail Connections which, when completed in the fall of 2023, will provide non-motorized access across the Connecticut River by linking the shared used path on the Putnam Bridge to Great Meadow Road in Wethersfield and Naubuc Avenue in Glastonbury.

Out west, a team of Utah State University researchers issued a report in July 2022 detailing how to use the state’s network of historic canal trails as an active transportation solution. That study is poised to help the Utah Department of Transportation and community leaders make decisions about building canal paths and trails.

Additionally, in September 2022, the Tennessee State Parks received the Project Excellence Award from the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals for its “Tires to Trails” conducted in collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Transportation; a project that uses recycled tires in the construction of recreation paths.

Illinois DOT to Help Improve Chicago Street Safety

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Department of Transportation recently signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will help “streamline and accelerate” the deployment of safety measures on local roads and state routes within Chicago to better protect bicyclists and pedestrians.

[Above photo by the City of Chicago]

“[This] MOU builds on our partnership and outlines concrete steps that we are taking to address safety, while further enhancing our ongoing collaboration and joint commitment to making roads safer for all users,” said Illinois DOT Secretary Omer Osman in a statement.

“Together, we will continue to work towards our joint goal of zero fatalities and to make Chicago and Illinois roads as safe and accessible as possible,” he said.

“This MOU is an important step forward in creating safer streets for our most vulnerable road users, such as children, people with disabilities, older adults, and people walking, biking, and rolling,” added Chicago DOT Commissioner Gia Biagi.

[Editor’s note: In December 2021 the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released the second edition of its “Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities,” which provides guidance on the planning, design, and operation of pedestrian facilities along streets and highways.]

The MOU applies to the approximately 400 miles of road that are under state jurisdiction in Chicago, excluding expressways; roads that include some of the most heavily traveled streets in the City. Illinois DOT noted that MOU goes into effect immediately and establishes:  

  • A standardized list of traffic safety infrastructure designs routinely submitted by CDOT that will not be subject to comprehensive IDOT review prior to installation. This will allow the city to design and self-certify curb cuts and other sidewalk improvements to make streets more walkable and accommodating for non-vehicular traffic, establishes 10 foot-wide vehicular lanes as the minimum lane width. 
  • Clarifies “Design Vehicle” standards to emphasize pedestrian safety at intersections. A design vehicle is the largest vehicle that is likely to use the facility with considerable frequency and its selection can significantly impact a road’s design and geometry. By agreeing to a more appropriate design vehicle for urban streets, certain state routes will be able to add safety features, such as curb extensions and bump crossing distances for pedestrians.
  • Creates an Illinois DOT-Chicago DOT working group to help formulate future agreements and improve upon existing interagency collaboration.

That effort also comes as the U.S. continues to experience year-over-year increases in pedestrian fatalities. For example, a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association in April 2022 projected that U.S. motorists struck and killed 3,441 pedestrians in the first six months of 2021, an increase of 17 percent or an additional 507 fatalities compared to the first six months of 2020.

This “troubling projection,” GHSA said, continued what the group called a “decade-long trend” of rising pedestrian deaths on U.S. roadways and comes as speeding, impaired and distracted driving, and other dangerous driver behaviors remain at unacceptably high levels.

Illinois DOT’s efforts to improve street safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in Chicago also mirror similar efforts being undertaken by state departments of transportation across the country.

For example, in September 2022, a team of researchers from the University of Florida Transportation Institute or UFTI began working with the Florida Department of Transportation and others to study a suite of emerging technologies that provide more “timely warnings” regarding potential collisions between motorists and pedestrians – with the goal of reducing injuries and fatalities.

Concurrently, in October 2022, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet issued a new version of its “Complete Streets” roads and highways manual; a revision that represents the first update in more than 20 years to the state’s pedestrian and bicycle travel policy.

“Today, our transportation planners and designers approach their tasks holistically, taking the needs of all users into account and building accordingly,” noted Jim Gray, KYTC’s secretary, at the time. “There’s no one-size fits all recommendation as roadway features must be tailored to fit the community context.”

Also in October 2022, University of Connecticut Professor John Ivan received a $200,000 grant from the Connecticut Department of Transportation to investigate the safety of a proposal to improve the “uniformity” of pedestrian crossing signals statewide.