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The Role of Built Environment Factors in Enhancing Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety: A Comprehensive Analysis and Policy Implications

Project Description

Despite recent efforts to achieve Vision Zero goals in the US, pedestrian and bicycle safety remains a critical issue that affects individuals and communities. The nearly 7,500 pedestrian fatalities annually and 1,000 bicyclist fatalities in recent years highlight the urgent need to address pedestrian and bicycle safety, particularly in urban, suburban, and rural areas where exposure and crash risks are changing. Importantly, the role of the built environment in such environments is changing, e.g., disadvantaged communities, including low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, can face higher risks of pedestrian and bicycle crashes. This project focuses on enhancing pedestrian and bicycle safety through a detailed analysis of built environment features at the neighborhood level. As part of the CPBS's priorities on Safety Design, it explores the impact of factors such as street lighting, sidewalk availability, road design, land use type/mix and density, and traffic volumes on pedestrian and bicycle crashes frequency and their severity. With a particular emphasis on safety disparities in disadvantaged communities, this research utilizes a variety of data sources, including police crash reports, census data, land use data, and the Equitable Transportation Community (ETC) data released by the US Department of Transportation. The study will employ both traditional statistical methods and explainable artificial intelligence techniques to analyze data and identify key contributors to crash occurrences and severity during both day and night. Techniques such as negative binomial models, ordered probability models and structural equation modeling will be used to understand the direct and indirect effects of built environment features on safety outcomes. Special attention will be given to the role of these features in disadvantaged communities, aiming to develop targeted interventions to reduce crashes and enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Outputs

• Data Analysis Framework integrating police crash reports for several states, census and land use data, the disadvantaged communities ETC data, and exposure data for future safety studies.


• A comprehensive final report. The research team will produce a detailed report summarizing the findings and recommendations.


• Technical paper/s: We will submit and attempt to publish the study in peer-reviewed papers detailing the research methodology, findings, and implications for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Specifically, the paper/s will focus on how built environment factors influence crash frequency and safety outcomes during both daytime and nighttime, with a particular emphasis on disadvantaged communities.


• Evidence-based Interventions and Policy Recommendations: Based on our research findings, we will formulate targeted interventions to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in urban, suburban, and rural areas, particularly for disadvantaged communities.


• Stakeholder involvement and technology transfer: We will share our findings with stakeholders focusing on policymakers. In this regard, we will submit a paper to the National Academies Transportation Research Board for presentation at the annual meeting.


• Education: Graduate students will benefit directly and substantially from working on the project through mentorship and learning research skills. The work will likely become part of a Ph.D. and MS thesis. Also, the research team will incorporate the results in a safety course taught at UTK.

Outputs

• Data Analysis Framework integrating police crash reports for several states, census and land use data, the disadvantaged communities ETC data, and exposure data for future safety studies.


• A comprehensive final report. The research team will produce a detailed report summarizing the findings and recommendations.


• Technical paper/s: We will submit and attempt to publish the study in peer-reviewed papers detailing the research methodology, findings, and implications for pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Specifically, the paper/s will focus on how built environment factors influence crash frequency and safety outcomes during both daytime and nighttime, with a particular emphasis on disadvantaged communities.


• Evidence-based Interventions and Policy Recommendations: Based on our research findings, we will formulate targeted interventions to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in urban, suburban, and rural areas, particularly for disadvantaged communities.


• Stakeholder involvement and technology transfer: We will share our findings with stakeholders focusing on policymakers. In this regard, we will submit a paper to the National Academies Transportation Research Board for presentation at the annual meeting.


• Education: Graduate students will benefit directly and substantially from working on the project through mentorship and learning research skills. The work will likely become part of a Ph.D. and MS thesis. Also, the research team will incorporate the results in a safety course taught at UTK.

Outcomes / Impacts

The study will advance the understanding of how we should design our street environments to better serve the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists in different contexts. For example, by knowing the occurrence of different collision factors (such as speed) in different contexts (suburban vs. urban), we can provide better guidance on what sort of treatments should be provided and in which places. Ultimately, this work will lay a strong foundation for successfully using the built environment to enhance safety and reduce the risks to vulnerable users. To summarize, the outcomes/impacts of the proposed project are:


1. Improved Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety through targeted interventions


2. Evidence-based policy Decisions leading to data-driven safety measures


3. Enhanced Equity Considerations with focused safety resources for underserved areas


4. Improved design and infrastructure guided by empirical research would result in more reliable transportation networks. Enhanced predictability in traffic flows and reduced disruption due to crashes would benefit all road users.


5. Cost Savings from reduced crashes, injuries, and fatalities.


6. Positive Influence on Urban Planning for pedestrian and cyclist-friendly cities.

Dates

06/01/2024 to 05/31/2025

Universities

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Principal Investigator

Asad Khattak

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

akhattak@utk.edu

ORCID: 0000-0002-0790-7794

 

Bruce Appleyard

San Diego State University

bappleyard@sdsu.edu

ORCID: 0000-0003-2105-8079

Project Partners: 

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Center for Transportation Research

 

San Diego State University

City Planning/School of Public Affairs


Research Project Funding

Federal: $84,000

Non-Federal: $42,000

Contract Number

69A3552348336

Project Number

24UTK02

Research Priority

Promoting Safety

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