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Bike Share, Transit Could Be More Integrated, Study Says

Bike share and transit systems have the potential to be complementary modes of travel, but more can be done to further integrate them, according to a synthesis report issued under the Transit Cooperative Research Program. The report, TCRP Synthesis 132: Public Transit and Bikesharing, said that there are still significant barriers to making bike share and transit more integrated. These include locating bike share docks near transit stops, integrated branding, having single payments for both transit and bikes, and combining operations and maintenance. However, bike share systems have helped expand transit catchment areas, increase first-mile and last-mile connections, and alleviate transit capacity concerns. Further research is needed on technology compatibility, economic impacts, and impacts on ridership. For more information, link to the report. (4-10-18)

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TR News Highlights Issues from 2017 State Partnership Visits

A featured article from the Jan.-Feb. 2018 issue of TR News provides highlights of the Transportation Research Board’s 2017 State Partnership Visits Program. Issues the TRB discussed with state departments of transportation during the visits include ways in which state agencies should prepare for automated and connected vehicle technologies, the collection and maintenance of high-quality transportation data, and the efficient movement of freight. Other issues discussed include public transportation and the effects of transportation network companies, state experiences with assuming responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act, the use of recycled materials in highway construction, and highway maintenance and operations. For more information, link to the TRB article. (3-7-18)

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Report, Tools Support Transit Agency Sustainability

A report issued under the Transportation Research Board’s Transit Cooperative Research Program describes the process of creating two original tools for sustainability managers at transit agencies. The project is documented in a pre-publication version of TCRP Research Report 197: Tools for a Sustainable Transit Agency. The first tool, the Sustainability Routemap, is an interactive PDF, similar in feel to a website, which guides the user to improve a transit agency’s sustainability program through application of change management principles, best practice examples, and references to online tools. The second tool, the S+ROI Calculator, is an excel workbook that quantitatively evaluates potential sustainability projects in terms of financial, social, and environmental return. The tools are available from TRB for download. The creation of the tools was part of TCRP Project H-53. For more information, link to the report. (2-27-18)

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NACTO Issues Bike Facility Criteria for All Ages and Abilities

The National Association of County Transportation Officials has released guidance for establishing bicycle facilities suitable for all ages and abilities. The guidance recommends that facility planners consider seniors, children, women, low-income riders, and people riding bike share when selecting a bikeway design. The guidance analyzes five types of bikeway used for most bike network needs that include low-speed share streets, protected bicycle lanes, and shared-use and bicycle paths. In addition, strategies to reduce sources of stress—such as intersections, large vehicles, and curbside activity—are provided. The guidance supplements the Urban Bikeway Design Guide. For more information, link to the guidance. (December 2017)

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Technical Assistance Offered to Help Develop Mobility-on-Demand Projects

The Shared-Use Mobility Center is seeking proposals for technical assistance under the On-Ramp Program for the development of mobility-on-demand (MOD) projects. The program is being implemented in partnership with the Federal Transit Administration to exchange MOD best practices and help integrate mobility tools for bike-sharing and car-sharing. Transportation providers will receive assistance to conduct workshops to determine mobility needs; participate with peer agencies; use research and analysis from the center; and develop a MOD business plan. A webinar is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2018. Proposals are due March 21, 2018. For more information, link to the announcement. (2-6-18)

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Tool Promotes Walkability in Urban Environments

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has released a tool to help decision-makers and city planners understand and measure features that promote walkability in urban environments. Pedestrians First: Tools for a Walkable City provides a framework for measuring various infrastructure features, including, crosswalks, visually active frontage, physical permeable frontage, and small blocks within metropolitan urban areas, neighborhoods, and street blocks. The tool includes best practices to understand walkability in specific contexts. It also provides policy recommendations for adopting parking maximums, building code changes, and implementing dense grids of streets. For more information, link to the announcement. (2-7-18)

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Report Assesses Transit Decline in Southern California

Per capita transit trips have been declining in the six counties that comprise the Southern California Association of Governments, according to a new report by the group. The report indicates that feeling unsafe on transit vehicles, the decrease in fuel prices, and the rise of transportation network companies such as Lyft and Uber could be contributing factors to the fall in ridership. The report also suggests that an increase in private vehicle access and the replacement of transit users with people more likely to drive also may be causes for such a decline. In contrast, service quantity and reliability are not considered to play a part in transit decline because ridership was falling even on routes with excellent on-time records, according to the report. The report recommends that transit agencies seek to convince those who rarely use transit to begin riding occasionally. The study examined transit in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. For more information, link to the report. (2-2-18)

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Report Illustrates Ride-Share Usage in Five Major Cities

The Transit Cooperative Research Program has released a report to address how app-based transportation network companies (TNC) such as Lyft and Uber are affecting the use of public transit and personal automobiles. The report, Broadening Understanding of the Interplay between Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles (TCRP Report 195), builds on previous research and analyzes TNC trip origin-destination data in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Seattle, and Washington, DC, including a survey of several transit and shared mobility users. The report finds that the heaviest use of TNC is during evening hours and on weekends and that such trips are mostly short and concentrated in downtown neighborhoods. The report also shows that TNC usage occurs among all income levels and is associated with a decrease in vehicle ownership. For more information, link to the report. (1-25-18)

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New Podcast Series Focuses on Transit-Oriented Development

Smart Growth America has launched a monthly podcast series, Building Better Communities with Transit, to address the benefits of transit-oriented development. The podcast is part of an initiative of the Federal Transit Administration and will include experts from different communities to discuss how they facilitate development around transit stations and along corridors. Developing local policies, stakeholder engagement, and obtaining funding also will be discussed. The first episode, focused on Pittsburgh, is available for download. For more information, link to the announcement (1-5-18)

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FHWA Highlights Recent Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources

The Federal Highway Administration’s recent activities related to pedestrian and bicycle research and program efforts are outlined in a summary document. The summary indicates that states increased their commitment in federal-aid highway program funds to $970 million in fiscal year 2017, and it highlights a long list of resources related to the four strategic goals of the U.S. DOT: safety, infrastructure, innovation, and accountability. Examples include a pedestrian and bicycle safety information search tool, a guide on small town and rural multimodal networks, a pooled fund study on fostering innovation in pedestrian and bicycle transportation, and a traffic monitoring guide. For more information, link to the report. (1-8-18)

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Investing in Walking, Biking Yields Economic and Health Benefits

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership has released a report to make the case for investing in walking and biking within communities. The report says that developing sidewalks, street lighting, bike lanes, and crosswalks can reduce deaths, injuries, and associated medical costs. The report also says that studies indicate that the benefits of better air quality and more physical activity would be $8 billion per year if only half of short trips in the summer in Midwestern cities were taken by bike instead of car. In addition, examples from California, Colorado, and Tennessee are provided in which models and reports were created to calculate the economic and health benefits of active transportation. For more information, link to the report. (December 2017)

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Transit IDEA Program Report Highlights Research Projects

The Transit Cooperative Research Program has issued its annual report of the Transit Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis (IDEA) Program. The report provides a summary of progress on investigations into new concepts for technologies, processes, and methods. Projects include the development of a tool for evaluating and optimizing bus stop locations, a model for planning and designing transit terminals, the development of regional mobility management centers, advanced wayside energy storage systems for rail transit, carpooling to transit stations, and various projects dealing with smart fare systems and automated vehicle location. For more information, link to the annual report. (12-29-17)

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Tool Measures Community Connectivity

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has developed BikeAble, a tool to evaluate community connectivity. BikeAble displays bike route options from any origin to any destination that avoid high-stress highways. The tool can be used by communities to learn whether areas with poor health outcomes have low-stress access to stores selling healthy foods, trails for low-cost exercise, and health care facilities, or whether certain communities lack access to government offices. The tool was used in Milwaukee to illustrate connectivity to employment and schools. For more information, link to the tool. (12-12-17)

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Report Highlights Health Equity in Complete Streets Development

The National Complete Streets Coalition has released a report concerning the incorporation of health equity into complete streets development, using Greater New Orleans as a case study. The report includes a list of performance measures for the City of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish to enhance transportation planning processes, develop new complete streets projects, facilitate change in travel behavior, and change long-term health trends. The report recommends offering street design training to all transportation staff and to record who participates in such training. The report also recommends issuing surveys to better understand barriers to active transportation and improving collaboration between the city and parish to better connect their bicycle and pedestrian networks. For more information, link to the report. (12-20-17)

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NACTO Issues Guidance for Improving Biking for All Ages and Abilities

The National Association of City Transportation Officials has released guidance to help designers and planners develop bicycle infrastructure for riders of all ages and abilities. The guidance provides information on design tools aimed at improving safety and increasing bicycle ridership. The guidance specifies that on higher-volume streets with vehicle speeds above 20 mph, certain methods such as painted lanes can be insufficient for more vulnerable riders. The guidance also addresses how to mitigate factors, such as bicycle left turns in traffic and cars that cross into bikeways, that can discourage biking. The guidance serves a companion to the Urban Bikeway Design Guide. For more information, link to the guidance. (12-6-17)

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New Guidance Provides Grading Framework for Complete Streets Policies

Smart Growth America has released a policy grading framework and scoring methodology to provide guidance on areas for improvement in complete streets policies. The report includes several point structures for addressing a policy’s vision and intent, how well a policy benefits all users, design, jurisdiction, and project selection and criteria. The report serves as an update to the coalition’s 2017 revision to the Complete Streets policy framework to meet the needs of vulnerable users. For more information, link to the report. (11-30-17)

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List of Bike-Friendly Communities Announced

The League of American Bicyclists has announced 65 new and renewing bicycle-friendly communities under the Bicycle Friendly Community Program. Portland, Oregon has renewed its platinum status for bike commuter benefits, and Battle Creek, Michigan moved to a silver status for requiring all new police hires to become bike-certified. Bellingham, Washington, which has renewed its silver status, developed a Bicycle Master Plan that created a 170-mile primary bicycle network. Boca Raton, Florida, also renewing its bronze status, offered a three week bicycle education program that includes off-bike and on-bike components. For more information, link to the announcement. (11-30-17)

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MassDOT Issues Guide for Making Communities More Walkable

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has issued a guide to help local jurisdictions improve walkability and active transportation in their communities. The Municipal Resources Guide for Walkability includes a discussion of the various elements of walkable communities, including community design, walkway design and placement, crossing design and placement, and lighting and other safety features. The guide also addresses safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, accessibility for older walkers or disabled citizens, access to transit, and maintenance and repair issues. The guide is intended for use by municipal staff, elected officials, volunteers, residents, and advocates to further the goals of MassDOT’s vision for a statewide multimodal transportation system. A copy of the guide is available from the MassDOT website. (September 2017)

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TRB Research Record Addresses Travel Behavior and Values

The Transportation Research Board has released a series of papers concerning travel behavior and values in Volume 2664 of its Transportation Research Record journal. The issue addresses measuring stability of mode choice behavior, activity duration analysis, and car ownership amongst the millennial generation. The record also addresses monetary valuations of travel time and quality of travel, week-long work episode scheduling models, evaluation of time use and goods consumption, and short-distance trips. For more information, link to the report. (10-2-17)

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Peer Exchange Report Explores Transportation, Land Use Themes

The Federal Highway Administration has released a report on the Transportation Planning Capacity Building “Happy, Healthy, Smart Cities Symposium” peer exchange. The exchange, held earlier this year by the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization and the East Tennessee Community Design Center, included a series of documentaries concerning transportation and health outcomes, the link between land use and transportation, and the future of smart cities technology. Exchange participants emphasized the need for communicating complex policy, making public involvement more interesting, and the need for accelerating project development. The peer exchange indicated the importance of increasing the number of transportation options for people to choose from and the importance of small changes in street design. For more information, link to the report. (September 2017)

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NCHRP Reports Highlight Travel Forecasting Tool Design and Use

The National Cooperative Highway Research Program has issued two reports regarding the development of the software tool TFGuide, for travel forecasting. TFGuide aids in the selection of methods and techniques based on application needs, resource constraints, available data, and existing model structure. NCHRP Report 852 provides an overview of how to use the tool and a case study to demonstrate how a metropolitan planning organization used the software to perform a transit corridor study. The report also addresses the role of the travel forecaster, transportation planner, and decision maker. The NCHRP also issued a companion document that addresses the current state of practice in travel demand models, the software design and functionality of TFGuide, pilot tests conducted using the tool, and a history of travel forecasting legislation. For more information, link to the web-only document and the research report. (10-20-17)

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Report Describes Accommodation of Pedestrians with Visual Disabilities

Effective practices and considerations for accommodating pedestrians with vision disabilities on shared streets are described in a report issued by the Federal Highway Administration. The guide discusses strategies people with vision disabilities use to navigate in the public right of way, and challenges with shared streets used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and motor vehicles. It provides an overview of U.S. guidance, a toolbox of strategies for designing shared streets, and ideas on how accessibility for pedestrians with vision disabilities can be addressed in the planning and design process. For more information, link to the report. (10-27-17)

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U.S. Gets Low Grades on the Availability of Walkable Communities

The National Physical Activity Plan Alliance has issued a report card that evaluates the state of walking and walkable communities in the United States. The report assigns grades based on percentages of people who engage in a category of walking activity and the percentage of states that meet a specified standard. The report gives the U.S. a grade of F for overall pedestrian infrastructure because less than 30 percent of states met the standard of $5.26 per capita for biking and walking project funding. The U.S. also received an F for public transportation because less than 30 percent of states have a transit commute share greater than the 6 percent benchmark, with only seven states meeting the standard. For more information, link to the report card. (10-16-17)

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New Guide Addresses Bus Rapid Transit Development

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy has issued a guide for planning bus rapid transit (BRT) systems. BRT systems provide high capacity and speed at low costs and combines segregated bus lanes and other quality-of-service elements. The guide addresses the initiation of a project and the preparations and calculations, such as demand analysis and service planning, needed for creating a BRT project. The guide also addresses stakeholder engagement, how to educate customers on using the system, and the necessary infrastructure required. In addition, financial modeling, fare policies, and businesses structures are highlighted for ensuring a financially stable project. For more information, link to the announcement. (10-13-17)

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NCHRP Report on Laws, Policies for Automated Transit Operations Published

A report presenting an overview of the challenges and opportunities for governments to enable automated transit systems has been published under the National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The report, Impacts of Laws and Regulations on CV and AV Technology Introduction in Transit Operations (NCHRP Web-Only Document 239), analyzes the state of technology and various deployment scenarios for fully automated transit. The report also discusses the impacts of the technology on public safety, workforce development, and operating agency planning. In addition, the report discusses possible necessary changes to laws and regulations that govern public transportation to ensure continued financial and regulatory support and remove barriers to industry. The report was prepared under NCHRP Project 20-102. For more information, link to the report. (10-9-17)

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Featured Case Study

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    Utah DOT's 'Road Respect Community' Program Provides Support, Recognition for Community Bicycle Programs

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