Eleven Sydney council areas where pedestrians die more than motorists

Nigel Gladstone in the Sydney Morning Herald wrote “Eleven Sydney council areas where pedestrians die more than motorists“. I got some choice quotes:

Professor of transport at the University of Sydney David Levinson said changing the way Sydney’s traffic signals give priority to cars over pedestrians in busy areas was one way to stem the flow of injuries.

“This inequality [in traffic light phasing] undermines many of the stated goals of transport, health and environment policy,” Professor Levinson said. “Creating an environment that is better for pedestrians with separated footpaths, easy and frequent safe road crossings, generally slower cars and trucks, better trained and more law-abiding drivers (via police enforcement) will reduce the likelihood of fatalities.”

Road deaths have been increasing in both NSW and the US recently, while most other OECD nations are reporting fewer fatalities.

One theory [Referring to: Chi, Guangqing, Jeremy Porter, Arthur Cosby and David Levinson (2013) The Impact of Gasoline Price Changes on Traffic Safety: a Time Geography ExplanationJournal of Transport Geography 28 1-11. [doi] ] is that as more people can afford to be on the road, drivers with less experience, who tend to be younger, and therefore more dangerous, are added to the mix of motorists.

“When there’s economic expansion, people are working more hours and they probably get a bit more aggressive,” Professor Levinson said.

Research [by Wes Marshall] comparing Australian and American drivers found the rate of fatalities was more than twice as high in the US, where more than half of drivers do not stop or yield to pedestrians at crossings.

In Hawaii’s capital Honolulu, fines for pedestrians who text while crossing the road at traffic lights began this year.

In the City of Sydney, one in three people crossing the road is using a mobile phone and it’s time pedestrians “start owning this problem as well”, Pedestrian Council chief executive Harold Scruby said.

“Pedestrian deaths and serious injuries are going through the roof,” Mr Scruby said. “There is nothing that we’re seeing that the government is doing to help pedestrians.”

Hitting pedestrians with a $200 fine for using a mobile phone while crossing the road, even on the green man phase, is on Mr Scruby’s agenda.

“There’s no barrier there just because the light’s green. Half of the drivers coming towards you are on the phone too,” Mr Scruby said. “If you’re hit as a pedestrian, the driver will be automatically drug and breath tested but that’s a box they [police] have to tick, no one then goes looking for the mobile phone, there’s no box to tick.”

Professor Levinson said fining pedestrians was “basically a form of victim blaming”.

“Distracted pedestrians don’t kill drivers or passengers. Distracted drivers kill pedestrians,” he said. “Deaths are due to high speed and high mass, and drivers of two-tonne machines have an obligation to be more alert.”

In the three years to 2017, one pedestrian was killed and 25 were seriously injured while distracted by a mobile phone. But this is likely to be an under-reported issue, as it relies on witnesses telling police and other forms of evidence.

There are no plans to introduce penalties for people using mobile phones while crossing roads in NSW, a Transport for NSW spokesman said.


I also got to be ABC Radio Illawarra Friday Morning (talking about traffic safety), and ABC Radio Adelaide Friday Afternoon (talking about Beg Buttons) (first few minutes of this).

Optimum Stop Spacing for Accessibility

Relationship between Dwell Time, Stop Spacing, and Accessibility

Recent working paper:

This paper describes the connection between stop spacing and person-weighted accessibility for a transit route. Population distribution is assumed to be uniform along the line, but at each station, demand drops with distance from the station. The study reveals that neither short nor excessive stop spacings are efficient in providing accessibility. For the configuration of each transit route, an optimum stop spacing exists that maximizes accessibility. Parameters including transit vehicle acceleration, deceleration, top speed, dwell time, and pedestrian walking speed affect level of accessibility achiev- able, and differ in their effect on accessibility results. The findings provide an anchor of reference both for the planning of future transit systems, and for transit operators to make operational changes to system design parameters that improve accessibility in a cost-effective manner. The study technically justifies the “rule of thumb” in setting different stop spacings for metro, streetcars, and other different transit services. Different types of transit vary in their ability to provide accessibility, slower moving streetcar (tram) type urban rails are inherently disadvantaged in that respect. Thus the type of transit service to be built should be of particular concern, if the transit is to effectively serve its intended population.

Walking and Talking: The Effect of Smartphone Use and Group Conversation on Pedestrian Speed.

Camera Layout, Broadway study site

Recent working paper:

By testing the walking speed of groups of pedestrians and of phone users, followers of groups and of phone users, and of people uninfluenced by phone users and groups, from different sites it could been seen that groups of people and phone users, and often followers of phone users, walk significantly slower than people uninfluenced by phone. In a narrow path people in groups and phone users not only slow themselves down but also slow the people behind. The rise of the smartphone correlates with a reduction in walking speed.

Dockless in Sydney: The Rise and Decline of Bikesharing in Australia.

Recent working paper:

Percentage of static bikes in Pyrmont by company and day (Bikes unmoved for 48h or more)

In mid-2017, dockless, (or stationless) bikesharing appeared on the streets of Sydney. The birth of dockless bikesharing, its evolution as well as its consequences, and use habits are studied with review of policies and field investigations. It is found that bicycle use in Sydney is less than hoped for, vandalism is high, regulations unfavourable, and thus, the conditions for successful bikesharing are not met.

Link-based Internal and Full Cost Analysis

Full cost of travel on the Twin Cities Road Network ($/veh-km)

Recent working paper:

This paper develops a link-based full cost model, which identifies the key cost components of travel, including both internal and external versions of cost, and gives a link-based cost estimate. The key cost components for travelers are categorized as time cost, emission cost, crash cost, user monetary cost, and infrastructure cost. Selecting the Minneapolis – St. Paul (Twin Cities) Metropolitan region as the study area, the estimates show that the average full cost of travel is $0.68/veh-km, in which the time and user monetary costs account for approximately 85% of the total. Except for the infrastructure cost, highways are more cost-effective than other surface roadways considering all the other cost components, as well as the internal and full costs.

The Future of Transport and Access

I had the opportunity to present in Manly earlier today to GPT, an Australian property company,   about The Future of Transport and Access. (I also had the opportunity to ride the Manly Fast Ferry, twice!) Actually, I gave the talk 4 times to 4 different groups, as they had the attendees shop around at the marketplace of ideas (it was a regulated marketplace). They had an artist draw my talk (once), which is below.


The full book is available of course at a very reasonable price.

The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.
The End of Traffic and the Future of Access: A Roadmap to the New Transport Landscape. By David M. Levinson and Kevin J. Krizek.

Accessibility,  Equity, and the Journey-to-Work

Recent working paper:

Inequality in transport provision is an area of growing concern among transport professionals, as it results in low-income individuals travelling at lower speeds while covering smaller distances. Accessibility, the ease of reaching destinations, may hold the key in correcting these inequalities through providing a means to evaluate land use and transport interventions. This article examines the relationship between accessibility and commuting duration for low-income individuals, compared to the general population, in three major Canadian metropolitan regions, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver using multilevel mixed effects statistical models for car and public transport commuters separately. Accessibility measures are generated for jobs and workers both at the origin (home) and the destination (place of work) to account for the impact of competing labor and firms. Our models show that the impacts of accessibility on commuting duration are present and stronger for low-income individuals than for the general population, and the differences in impact are more visible for public transport commuters. The results suggest that low-income individuals have more to gain (in terms of reduced commute time) from increased accessibility to low-income jobs at the origin and to workers at the destination. Similarly, they also have more to lose from increased accessibility to low-income workers at the origin and to low- income jobs at the destination, which are proxies for increased competition. Policies targeting improvements in accessibility to jobs, especially low-income ones, by car and public transport while managing the presence of competition can serve to bridge the inequality gap that exists in commuting behavior.

I only get some satisfaction: Introducing satisfaction into measures of accessibility

Recent working paper:


Travel time decay curves by mode

Improving accessibility is a goal pursued by many metropolitan regions to address a variety of objectives. Accessibility, or the ease of reaching destinations, is traditionally measured using observed travel time and has of yet not accounted for user satisfaction with these travel times. As trip satisfaction is a major component of the underlying psychology of travel, we introduce satisfaction into accessibility measures and demonstrate its viability for future use. To do so, we generate a new satisfaction-based measure of accessibility where the impedance functions are determined from the travel time data of satisfying trips gathered from the 2017/2018 McGill Transport Survey. This satisfaction-based measure is used to calculate accessibility to jobs by four modes (public transport, car, walking, and cycling) in the Montreal metropolitan region, with the results then compared to a standard gravity-based measure of accessibility. We then offer a dissatisfaction index where we combine the ratio between satisfaction-based and gravity-based accessibility measures with mode share data. This index highlights areas with potentially high proportions of dissatisfied commuters and where interventions for each mode could have the highest impacts on the quality of life of a given mode commuter. Such analysis is then combined with a vulnerability index to show the value of this measure in setting priorities for vulnerable groups. The study demonstrates the importance of including satisfaction in accessibility measures and allows for a more nuanced interpretation of the ease of access by researchers, planners, and policy-makers.

Disparity of Access: Variations in Transit Service by Race, Ethnicity, Income, and Auto Availability

Percent zero-car household elasticity
Percent zero-car household elasticity

Recent working paper:

This study explores the relationship between transit-based job accessibility and minority races and ethnicities, low- and middle-income households, and carless households at the block group level for the 50 largest by population metropolitan regions in the United States. A log-linear regression model is used to identify inequities in transit-based job accessibility across the US using data collected from the American Community Survey, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smart Location Database, and the Access Across America database. The intra-metropolitan analyses reveal that accessibility is unevenly distributed across block groups that have different densities of race and levels of income. The differences in accessibility are especially apparent where there are denser pockets with higher percentages of African Americans, Hispanics, low-income households, and zero-car households. The inter-metropolitan analyses show that accessibility is unevenly distributed across metropolitan regions across the US when considering various sociodemographic populations. Different metropolitan regions provide different levels of accessibility for all investigated sociodemographic categories, whether considering racial minorities, levels of income, or car ownership. The results may inform recommendations for equitable transport planning and policy-making.