Why Looking at Crash Stats Alone Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story About Pedestrian Safety | Streetsblog

Stephen Miller at Streetsblog writes Why Looking at Crash Stats Alone Doesn’t Tell the Whole Story About Pedestrian Safety: New research from Minneapolis shows that there is safety in numbers for pedestrians.

This map shows the number of crashes involving pedestrians in relation to the number of people who walk at a given location. Via Murphy, Levinson, and Owen

This map shows the number of crashes involving pedestrians in relation to the number of people who walk at a given location. Via Murphy, Levinson, and Owen

Some intersections are riskier to cross than others, but looking at the number of pedestrian injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A new study from Minneapolis combines crash data with pedestrian counts to deliver a more nuanced picture of traffic dangers for people on foot. Among the findings: There’s safety in numbers for pedestrians.

Using data from the city government, University of Minnesota researcher Brendan Murphy and his co-authors looked at 448 intersections where both pedestrian counts and automobile counts were available, then cross-referenced that data with the city’s crash reports. They found a strong negative correlation between the number of pedestrians and the risk of being hit by a car.

While the study found people are less likely to be struck by a driver at locations where lots of people walk, it does not establish causation, Murphy says. “We don’t have good statistical evidence to show that if a place is safe, people will walk — or in the other direction, that if people are walking, they make the place safer,” he says. “I personally think it’s a bit of both.”

Per person, pedestrian-rich areas downtown and near the University of Minnesota pose a low risk for people walking, though they have a high absolute number of pedestrian crashes. Quieter intersections in more residential neighborhoods also pose a lower risk.

A few streets jump off the map as high-risk areas, like Lake Street, which runs east-west across South Minneapolis, and Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. Both are used by a steady if not enormous number of pedestrians, but are meant first and foremost to move lots of cars. “We can ask, ‘How are those roads designed?’” Murphy says. “They are two lanes each way, no shoulder or bike lane.”

The study looked at all crashes involving pedestrians, not just injuries and fatalities, in order to include enough data points to reach reliable conclusions. It also looked at the stats from 2000 to 2013 in aggregate, rather than year-by-year, so it doesn’t take into account intersection redesigns or major changes like the opening of a light rail line. If there were enough data, Murphy says, “it would be really nice to do a year-by-year analysis.”

The study did not consider the relationship between pedestrian risk and income or race, but the authors say that needs attention. “Equity is a very big problem in terms of pedestrian safety and poor and minority people are getting killed by cars at much higher rates,” Murphy said.

The authors hope their research will lead to better measurements of pedestrian safety and methods to improve it. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s four-year strategic plan set a goal of reducing fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists to 0.15 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled by 2016. But that’s the wrong way to look at the problem.

“If we frame pedestrian deaths in terms of VMT, we’re really framing it in terms of automobiles themselves and car traffic,” said Murphy. “We should be focused on reducing pedestrian deaths as a percentage of the pedestrian population.”

There’s also a need for better data collection. Cities and states regularly collect standardized data on car and truck traffic, but there’s no standard for non-motorized users. This data is often collected manually and its reliability varies from city to city. In Minneapolis, three counts throughout the day at each intersection were added together to create a six-hour total. Other cities have different methods.

“Ideally we would like to have our cities wired up and know how many pedestrians are crossing each intersection,” Murphy says. “We need to focus in on the pedestrian population and really ask ourselves, where are they really experiencing undue burdens of risk and what can we do about it?”

Call for Papers: Transportation System Analysis for Better Policy-Making

Journal of Transportation

Special Issue Call for Papers

Transportation System Analysis for Better Policy-Making

The rise of shared mobility, manifested by services such as car-sharing, ridesourcing, bike-sharing and crowdsourcing delivery, is fundamentally changing the landscape of travel and transport. As the vehicle automation and connectivity technology matures, these shared mobility services could eventually evolve into a powerful alternative to the current model of car ownership. Moreover, the collective ownership, being more rational and having a greater bargaining power for infrastructure improvement, may favor electricity as the primary fuel due to much lower operating and environmental costs. These three trends, namely sharing, automation and electrification, have occupied much of the ongoing research efforts in the field of transportation in recent years. As researchers begin to engineer the next generation of analytical tools tailored to these emerging conditions, a daunting challenge is how to apply these tools to properly inform public policies pertinent to design, operations and management of the future transportation systems. Because policies typically aim to achieve certain societal goals by influencing human behaviors, policy making processes must anticipate complex policy-human interaction and take their effects into account. It is this particular challenge that the present Special Issue of Transportation is focused on. Specifically, submissions that broadly fit the following profile are most welcome:

  1. Addressing a system application related to one (or more) of the following themes as explained above: sharing, automation and electrification;
  2. Employing a quantitative system analysis tool. Network models is probably the most obvious example, although other system analysis tools may be accepted as the editors see fit; and
  3. Considering policy-behavior interactions in the tool and/or exploring policy implications in the analysis.

Important dates:

  • Special issue article type becomes available in EES: October 1, 2017
  • Submission deadline – December 1st, 2017
  • Author notification of first round of reviews – March 1st, 2018
  • Author notification of second round of reviews (if needed) – September 1st, 2018
  • Special issue completed –January 31, 2019

Guest Editors

Yu (Marco) Nie
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois, USA
y-nie@northwestern.edu http://www.civil.northwestern.edu/people/profiles/nie.html

Xuegang (Jeff) Ban
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98115
banx@uw.edu faculty.washington.edu/banx

Amanda Stathopoulos
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Northwestern University
Evanston, Illinois, USA
a-stathopoulos@northwestern.edu http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/research-faculty/directory/profiles/stathopoulos-amanda.html

On Blood Alcohol Content

Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers recently published a counter-intuitive op-ed against lowering the blood alcohol content (BAC).

Hopefully everyone agrees that if there were fewer drunk drivers on the road, there would be fewer deaths from drunk driving. Hopefully everyone also agrees that BAC is correlated with impairment. The blood alcohol content limit, currently 0.08 in the US, is 0.05 in many other countries of the world. Should the US lower the BAC?1280px-Ljubljana_car_crash_2013

The argument against is that pulling over safe drivers (say in a police screenline, where all drivers on a road are pulled over and briefly tested) takes police resources that could be better spent pulling over observed dangerous drivers. Lightner writes: “Every dollar spent enforcing DUI laws against sober drivers is one not spent on getting the worst offenders off our roads.” Perhaps 2 drivers at 0.05 BAC are less dangerous than 1 driver at 0.10, so spend the time finding that driver.

But such police screenlines have the effect not just immediately about arresting people in violation of the law, and also as warning, reminder, and deterrent against future alcohol (and drug) impaired driving. To say the resources are a waste misses a major point.

International experience shows most other developed countries have significantly lower crash and fatality rates than the US, and they have 0.05 or lower BAC. Perhaps the US should just copy their traffic laws lock, stock, and barrel. Researchers have estimated ‘an additional 538 lives could be saved each year if the United States reduced the limit to 0.05,’ (Wagenaar et al. 2007)

Casual drinkers are a problem. Social drinking is a problem. I don’t care if you drink at home and don’t bother anyone (aside from the health insurance claims you impose on society from the damage you do to yourself), but when you drive a car, you endanger others. And because you are impaired, you don’t have the reasoning abilities to realise this.

The rules of the road should not only punish, but also provide a strong deterrent, which includes arrest and punishment even if you didn’t actually kill someone this time. Until robots fully rule the roads in 25 years, possibly another million Americans will be killed in car crashes. We can avoid tens of thousands of them with lower BAC limits.


The scientific evidence on this is fairly clear: Fell and Voas (2006) write:

Purpose

This scientific review provides a summary of the evidence regarding the benefits of reducing the illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving and providing a case for enacting a .05 BAC limit.

Results

Fourteen independent studies in the United States indicate that lowering the illegal BAC limit from .10 to .08 has resulted in 5–16% reductions in alcohol-related crashes, fatalities, or injuries. However, the illegal limit is .05 BAC in numerous countries around the world. Several studies indicate that lowering the illegal per se limit from .08 to .05 BAC also reduces alcohol-related fatalities. Laboratory studies indicate that impairment in critical driving functions begins at low BACs and that most subjects are significantly impaired at .05 BAC. The relative risk of being involved in a fatal crash as a driver is 4 to 10 times greater for drivers with BACs between .05 and .07 compared to drivers with .00 BACs.

Summary

There is strong evidence in the literature that lowering the BAC limit from .10 to .08 is effective, that lowering the BAC limit from .08 to .05 is effective, and that lowering the BAC limit for youth to .02 or lower is effective. These law changes serve as a general deterrent to drinking and driving and ultimately save lives.

 

On Real Estate in Sydney

As a new arrival, I have been studying the Sydney real estate market with dismay. To find housing, one typically goes through either domain.com.au or realestate.com.au. Domain is a spinout of the Fairfax newspapers (the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age) but is now bigger than both. Realestate.com.au is an offspring of the rival Murdoch newspapers.

A panorama of the development near Green Square in Sydney
A panorama of the development near Green Square in Sydney

The first thing one notices about Sydney are the exorbitant prices.  Australia has not had a recession for 25 years, (though economists have predicted at least 10 of the last 3 recessions) and prices have steadily marched upward (until the last couple of months at any rate). People have come to believe in the inviolability of above normal profits in real estate investments. And obviously owners in the system hope this to be true, so there is motivated reasoning.

On the one hand, land, they aren’t making any more of it. And there is a large desire for individuals from Asia to buy real estate in Australia for a variety of reasons (as a form of wealth insurance by investing in a stable capitalist country with rule of law, to help children immigrate, just because they believe in the inevitability of ever rising prices. Further, there are politicians, presumably supported by their mates in the real estate industry, who will do anything to keep this game going, including letting people borrow from their Supa, their retirement scheme, to invest in more real estate. Sydney is certainly a desirably place, and the most desirable parts, with the highest accessibility and best views, are scarcer than inland areas.

On the other hand, most of Australia is pretty empty. In response to demands, supply is increasing in the city, there are cranes everywhere, and residential new starts are at historic highs. This should soak up the demand and, if in fact supply rises faster than demand, cause prices to drop some. Also, it is cheaper to rent than to pay the interest on a comparably valued house, much less own (excluding various tax gambits, like negative gearing)

My own view is this is a bit Bubbly. It seems like a Ponzi scheme or musical chairs, and you don’t want to be the last one entering a Ponzi scheme.  Australia has a very long coastline, other cities are less expensive, and the amenities that provide value are steadily being spatially distributed.

So we are renting, for now, perhaps forever. My sense is that capital would be better invested elsewhere (or in cash – since the stock market is overvalued as well) than in such an obvious bubble. When conditions change, we will reconsider.

The real estate market differs from the US in a few ways. Stamp duty (about 5%) on property sales is a large source of government revenue (while normal rates are lower). (Notably, this is a weak form of land value capture, especially since much of the value is in the land rather than the structure). Also there is a single land registry which makes title search pretty trivial.

Karen Strojek writes about the Torrens Title System:

The story of Torrens and the Real Property Act of 1858 is fairly well known. Torrens took an interest in reforming South Australia’s chaotic deeds-based land system when an acquaintance lost money on a property, owing to a faulty title.

With help and advice from competent friends, and a sustained campaign for conveyancing reform, Torrens won the seat of Adelaide in the first parliamentary election of 1856. His Real Property Act came into effect in 1858. Soon afterwards, Torrens resigned from government to run the new land titles registry.

Under the new system, the location and dimensions of each land parcel were to be surveyed and registered. Every new land owner received a secure grant of title, guaranteed by the Crown.

Recently there has been discussion of privatising this database. It is not clear what the value added of the private sector is here.

Renting

Most rentals appear to be handled by Real Estate Agents (while in the US, it appears far more owner-driven). The agents will list the property on the above-noted websites. This ad will include a few photos (with fisheye lenses to make it look bigger) and not include a floorplan because that would benefit the renter not the landlord (unless it is a large unit). So you can’t easily compare units before you go and see them, which is exceedingly annoying.  Even for sale properties,   which do have a floorplan, they often don’t include gross floorspace.

The Agents then set an open-house window of 15 minutes, and wait for the hordes to flood in. Strangely, many showings are scheduled simultaneously (typically Saturday morning) so people are racing around looking at properties. So you get to kick the tires for a very short period. If you are interested in one or more properties, you apply. Fortunately there is an online application that is common to most agents called 1form. Unfortunately there are competitors to 1form, so it is not the 1form to rule them all. Agents make up nonsense about it not working with their system, but I think the agencies don’t want to pay the associated fees or higher a coder.

The whole process is Dynamic Optimization. You must apply simultaneously to multiple properties, and keep looking until you put down money. If you don’t, someone will grab the property out from under you.  The agents screen the applicants and the owners than look at the applicants and then you are notified. If you are interested, you must then put down a non-refundable Holding Fee. This will apply to rent if you ultimately sign, and takes the unit off the market until the contracts are signed (or not). Obviously you don’t want to put deposits on more than one property, since then you will forfeit money.

Owning

The process of buying houses differs as well. The property is listed on the above websites. There are a few viewing times. And then there is an auction. In the US an auction is an indication of a distressed or foreclosed property. Here it is the most common way of selling.  (Though you can make an offer before the property is auctioned). The auction process seems to work for the benefit of the seller, playing on people’s emotions and excitement. It reduces the work of the agent, and clears the market faster. A standard metric that is reported about the market is auction clearances.

Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Civil), University of Sydney

The University of Sydney just prepared a video on our Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Civil) program. The video is below. …

 

Civil engineering is a broad profession that combines functional solutions with creativity and innovation to improve society. Civil engineers are responsible for the design and construction of such things as buildings, towers and transport infrastructure in addition to the design and management of gas and water systems and irrigation systems.

Our Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Civil) degree provides you with a suite of embedded technical and professional skills to create infrastructure that improves lives throughout the world.

Throughout this four-year degree you will study a series of core units as you master the foundations of civil engineering, with the option of then specialising in an optional major, including construction management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structures, transport engineering or humanitarian engineering – the first of its kind in Australia. You will have the opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on industry experience through internships as well as the option to utilise your knowledge in a engineering fieldwork trip to a developing country.

For more:  http://sydney.edu.au/courses/bachelor…

Evaluating the Safety In Numbers effect for pedestrians at urban intersections

Recently published:

Average annual 6-hour pedestrian count by location, Minneapolis
Average annual 6-hour pedestrian count by location, Minneapolis

Highlights

  • Collision risk at 448 intersections in the city of Minneapolis, MN was assessed.
  • The Safety In Numbers phenomenon was observed for both pedestrians and cars.
  • Maps of per-pedestrian crash rates inform discussion of safe vs. unsafe city areas.

Abstract

Assessment of collision risk between pedestrians and automobiles offers a powerful and informative tool in urban planning applications, and can be leveraged to inform proper placement of improvements and treatment projects to improve pedestrian safety. Such assessment can be performed using existing datasets of crashes, pedestrian counts, and automobile traffic flows to identify intersections or corridors characterized by elevated collision risks to pedestrians. The Safety In Numbers phenomenon, which refers to the observable effect that pedestrian safety is positively correlated with increased pedestrian traffic in a given area (i.e. that the individual per-pedestrian risk of a collision decreases with additional pedestrians), is a readily observed phenomenon that has been studied previously, though its directional causality is not yet known. A sample of 488 intersections in Minneapolis were analyzed, and statistically-significant log-linear relationships between pedestrian traffic flows and the per-pedestrian crash risk were found, indicating the Safety In Numbers effect. Potential planning applications of this analysis framework towards improving pedestrian safety in urban environments are discussed.

Keywords

  • Pedestrians;
  • Safety;
  • Collisions;
  • Urban planning

Street wars 2035: can cyclists and driverless cars ever co-exist? | Guardian Cities

Laura Laker at Guardian Cities writes: Street wars 2035: can cyclists and driverless cars ever co-exist? | Guardian Cities

“Driverless cars appear unstoppable – except of course you can simply walk in front of one and force it to brake. Could this conundrum eventually mean a return to a dystopian world of segregated urban highways?”

I was interviewed, my quotes below …

A visualisation of data captured by an autonomous vehicle. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters
A visualisation of data captured by an autonomous vehicle. Photograph: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters

Or how about prosecuting pedestrians or cyclists who get in the way of driverless cars? David Levinson, a professor at the School of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney, is broadly supportive of AVs, but says: “It’s very big brother like, there’s a question of safety v freedom. How much risk to endanger yourself are we going to let you take?”

Thinking back to the kids stopping driverless cars on our imaginary future street, Levinson sees a future where blocking a driverless car could even be criminalised. “The car has a camera and the picture will be sent to the police department, and the police department will come and arrest you for annoying an autonomous vehicle.”

Given these challenges, experts including Hickman and Levinson believe segregation and AV-only roads are inevitable. But wouldn’t that risk a return to the urban dystopia of the 1960s and 70s, when planners crisscrossed cities with elevated highways and erected barriers around roads with the aim of improving safety? The unintended consequences were fast, aggressive driving, and the splitting in two of countless communities.

“I think there will be some roads that will be transformed to higher speed roads,” says Levinson. “I’d be sceptical of someone who says we will not do any of that. But if you can move traffic away from the lower speed streets that pedestrians and cyclists want to use, that’s an improvement.”

Hickman believes “the case is overwhelming against AVs” but fears the powerful motor industry lobby means there is so much private and government money already at stake that the rise of driverless cars would be hard to stop.

The Sorry Urban Interface of the Metropolo Hotel in Shanghai

In my recent visit to Shanghai I stayed at the Metropolo Hotel near Tongji University (map), China’s leading architecture and planning school, courtesy of the university. The hotel inside was cromulent, but the interface with the street is cringe-worthy. You are only expected to approach via automobile (presumably taxi). You are not to come on foot. The hotel is nicely situated on a corner, you would think there would be a welcoming entrance for pedestrians approaching from that corner, since that is where you would come if you were arriving by Shanghai’s excellent metro system (shown by the M on the map) which connects intercity trains and airports, with a station only a few hundred meters away. Instead, you are forced to squeeze past an automobile gate 25 m beyond the corner on the north-south or east-west street, at the edge of the site, and then backtrack to the doors of the actual hotel building. While doing so you walk in a driveway that is functionally a shared space, but clearly designed for cars given its asphalt overlay.

Map of Jinjiang Metropolo Hotel Shanghai, near Tongji University
Map of Jinjiang Metropolo Hotel Shanghai, near Tongji University
Corner of Metropolo Hotel at night. Instead of a sign and a barrier, there should be a pedestrian entrance.
Corner of Metropolo Hotel at night. Instead of a sign and a barrier, there should be a pedestrian entrance.
A closeup of the corner barrier, in daytime. Those steps don't lead to an openly accessible corner, but to the driveway.
A closeup of the corner barrier, in daytime. Those steps don’t lead to an openly accessible corner, but to the driveway.
The driveway, may be appealing to automobiles, not much to walk through.
The driveway, may be appealing to automobiles, not much to walk through.
The auto gate is in the distance.
The auto gate is in the distance.

Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in Transport at the University of Sydney

School of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies
Reference no.1048/0517

  • Be valued for your exceptional knowledge and experience in Engineering Transport
  • Great opportunity for a scholar with expertise in Transport Engineering
  • Full time continuing role (remuneration package: $120-170k p.a. which includes leave loading and up to 17% super)

About the opportunity
Applications are invited for the appointment of a Lecturer / Senior Lecturer in the area of Transport in the School of Civil Engineering, within the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, to coincide with the launching of a transport major as part of the civil engineering undergraduate program. We are seeking candidates with an outstanding record of research and scholarship with proven and substantial research expertise in transport engineering areas of interest to the school, including, but not limited to, Traffic Engineering, Transport Planning, Freight Transport, Public Transport, Active Transport, Travel Behaviour, Highway Engineering, and Transport Safety Engineering.

The School of Civil Engineering is introducing a Major in Transport Engineering in the BE (Civil) degree program in 2017. You will work collaboratively to implement the new Transport Engineering Major and lead a Transport Engineering research group. You will have opportunities to collaborate with researchers in the Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS), which resides in the Business School of the University of Sydney, www.sydney.edu.au/business/itls, and has achieved worldwide recognition for its research and teaching on transport and logistics management. You will be also expected to engage with the wider research community related to transport engineering within the engineering faculty and other faculties in the University.

About you
The University values courage and creativity; openness and engagement; inclusion and diversity; and respect and integrity. As such, we see the importance in recruiting talent aligned to these values in the pursuit of research excellence. We are looking for a Lecturer / Senior Lecturer with:

  • a PhD Civil Engineering or related discipline
  • teaching experience at tertiary level
  • excellent academic administration skills
  • excellent teamwork and communication skills to work with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders.

You will be responsible for teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in one or more of the areas of transport and the supervision of research students in these and other specialist areas. You should be able to demonstrate a commitment to high standards of teaching and to the maintenance of academic standards in a broadly based civil engineering school. The school is committed to increasing its research output and to increasing the number of research students.

About us
Since our inception 160 years ago, the University of Sydney has led to improve the world around us. We believe in education for all and that effective leadership makes lives better. These same values are reflected in our approach to diversity and inclusion, and underpin our long-term strategy for growth. We’re Australia’s first university and have an outstanding global reputation for academic and research excellence. Across our campuses, we employ over 6000 academic and non-academic staff who support over 60,000 students.

We are undergoing significant transformative change which brings opportunity for innovation, progressive thinking, breaking with convention, challenging the status quo, and improving the world around us. 



The University of Sydney encourages part-time and flexible working arrangements, which will be considered for this role.

For more information about the position, or if you require reasonable adjustment or support filling out this application, please contact Dan Kuhner, Recruitment Consultant, on +61 2 8627 0934 or dan.kuhner@sydney.edu.au.

If you would like to learn more, please refer to the Candidate Information Pack for the position description and further details.

To be considered for this position it is essential that you address the online selection criteria. For guidance on how to apply visit: How to apply for an advertised position.

Closing date: 11:30pm 02 July 2017 (Sydney Time)

The University of Sydney is committed to diversity and social inclusion. Applications from people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; equity target groups including women, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTIQ; and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent, are encouraged.

If we think your skills are needed in other areas of the University, we will be sure to contact you about other opportunities.

The University reserves the right not to proceed with any appointment.

Candidate Information Pack

Selection Criteria

How to apply:

 

Official Post:

http://sydney.nga.net.au/cp/index.cfm?event=jobs.checkJobDetailsNewApplication&returnToEvent=jobs.processJobSearch&jobid=C76C1113-5F47-41EB-A669-A78200902649&CurATC=EXT&CurBID=949319bc-8898-4f11-ac4b-9db401358504&jobsListKey=8f81f529-635c-44c7-9d13-eb67f5f4eb7b&persistVariables=CurATC,CurBID,jobsListKey&lid=45133800008