MIT Press has released Cycling for Sustainable Cities, a new book focused on how to implement infrastructure, programs, and policies to make cycling safer, more practical, and convenient for urban residents. Of note, the chapter on “Social Justice and Cycling” was co-authored by WTI Research Associate Andrea Hamre, in collaboration with transport justice and equity scholars Karel Martens and Aaron Golub.
An NCHRP project led by WTI is the focus of a current feature article in Traffic and Transit, a national transportation publication. “Mapping the Future of Rural Transportation Research” highlights the development of the Research Roadmap for Rural Transportation Issues (NCHRP 20-122), which will provide a detailed, long-term agenda for research aimed at improving rural transportation throughout the U.S., including the creation of a series of research needs statements on specific topics. The project is led by Principal Investigator Jaime Sullivan, in collaboration with Iowa State University.
To date, the project team has produced 15 topical research portfolios; 26 research needs statements; and 13 research problem statements, which are more fully developed project proposals ready to submit for funding consideration. Sullivan provided an update on the project at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, during the Rural Transportation Issues Coordination Council meeting, which she chairs. The new Council will serve as the home for ongoing activities related to the Research Roadmap project.
The U.S. Forest Service has released a new report authored by wildlife crossing experts from WTI, ARC Solutions, and other partner research organizations, which compiles key guidance information that may lead to the installation of more wildlife crossing structures.
Wildlife crossing structures are one of the most effective means of reducing animal-vehicle collisions on highways, while facilitating essential animal movement across the landscape. Yet the widespread implementation of such structures, especially wildlife overpasses, has been hindered by cost concerns. In 2014, WTI hosted a workshop in partnership with ARC Solutions and prominent wildlife crossing experts from Canada and the United States to determine whether there are design parameters and construction techniques that could be added, changed, or adjusted to reduce costs, while maintaining or improving the effectiveness of wildlife overpasses.
Concepts identified during the workshop were developed into specific strategies. This document presents 32 potential cost savings considerations, which were consolidated into three categories:
- design and construction
- procurement, delivery method, and cost accounting considerations
Citation: McGuire, Terry M.; Clevenger, Anthony P.; Ament, Robert; Callahan, Renee; Jacobson, Sandra, eds. 2020. Innovative strategies to reduce the costs of effective wildlife overpasses. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-267. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.
The National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB) is raising awareness of a new WTI study on travel behavior, by highlighting it in its weekly newsletter.
Researchers Andrea Hamre and Jonathan Fisher recently completed “Travel Behavior and Transportation Planning Insights from the Small Urban Area of Chittenden County, Vermont: An Application of Traveler Segmentation,” sponsored by the Small Urban, Rural, and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM). The primary purpose of this project was to analyze transportation planning and travel behavior of County residents, using data from four travel surveys conducted over the last 20 years.
The survey series collected information from respondents about travel preferences and priorities for regional transportation investments. The research team applied traveler segmentation to classify the survey sample into three modal orientations — Alternative [transportation] Oriented, Car Tolerant, and Car Oriented.
According to the team’s analysis, nearly half (49%) of the respondents fell within the Car Tolerant segment. These respondents use their cars frequently, but also show a high willingness to change their travel behavior, as well as strong support for incentives to use alternative transportation. The team also found that Chittenden County adults would like fewer resources devoted to highways than are currently being allocated, and that support for gas tax increases is higher for non-highway purposes than for use exclusive to highways. These findings may help Chittenden County officials prioritize future transportation investments and develop multi-modal systems that meet a range of public needs.
The full report is available on the project webpage.
WTI has completed a project to create a severe weather index for the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the final report was featured in a recent issue of the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board’s newsletter.
A severe weather index (SWI) is a management tool that can be used to assess the performance and related costs associated with winter maintenance operations – it considers the relative severity of each weather event and the relative severity of weather for that season. On behalf of the Maryland DOT State Highway Agency (MDOT SHA), WTI researchers Laura Fay, Natalie Villwock-Witte, and Karalyn Clouser, in partnership with David Veneziano of Iowa State University, developed and tested an SWI using Road Weather Information System (RWIS) data and input from maintenance managers.
In addition to the development of the SWI itself, key outcomes of this effort include the identification of locations where blowing and drifting snow impacts the road network, the identification of future sites for RWIS stations, survey results describing RWIS use by MDOT SHA maintenance crews, and a detailed review of the RWIS network and data. The final report also provides recommendations to MDOT SHA for improving the SWI and overall winter maintenance operations. “We’re pleased that MDOT SHA is evaluating the tool and plans to implement it in the 2020-21 winter season,” said P.I. Laura Fay; “The sooner it’s used and assessed during actual storm events, the sooner it can be calibrated and refined, which will improve its usefulness.”
The Journal of Safety Research has published an article that examines the influence of traffic safety culture on a driver’s behavior when interacting with bicyclists on the roadway.
“Traffic safety culture and prosocial driver behavior for safer vehicle-bicyclist interactions” is based on a research collaboration between the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) and the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) at WTI. Authors include CHSC researchers Nic Ward, Kari Finley and Jay Otto of CHSC, and David Kack, Rebecca Gleason, and Taylor Lonsdale of SURLC.
Bicyclist safety is a growing concern as more adults use this form of transportation for recreation, exercise, and mobility. Most bicyclist fatalities result from a crash with a vehicle, and the behaviors of the driver are often responsible for the crash. The researchers conducted a survey study of Montana and North Dakota residents and found that prosocial driver behavior was most common and appeared to be intentional. They also found that this intention was increased by positive attitudes, normative perceptions, and perceived control. The findings can be used to develop strategies to increase prosocial intentions and driver behavior, thereby increasing bicyclist safety.
CITATION: Ward, N. J., Finley, K., Otto, J., Kack, D., Gleason, R., & Lonsdale, T. (2020). Traffic safety culture and prosocial driver behavior for safer vehicle-bicyclist interactions. Journal of Safety Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2020.07.003
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors, an international resource with best practices for maintaining, enhancing, and restoring ecological connectivity among and between protected areas. These Guidelines also include 25 case studies that demonstrate current approaches to conserving ecological connectivity and ecological networks for different ecosystems and species. One of the authors is WTI Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament, who has worked in partnership with IUCN for several years on wildlife connectivity issues as part of the organization’s Transport Working Group.
CITATION: Hilty, J., Worboys, G., Keeley, A., Woodley, S., Lausche, B., Locke, H., Carr, M., Pulsford, I., Pittrock, J., White, J., Theobald, D., Levine, J., Reuling, M., Watson, J., Ament, R., Groves, C., and Tabor, G. (2020). Guidelines for Conserving Connectivity through Ecological Networks and Corridors. Gland, Switzerland; International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). DOI: https://doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.CH.2020.PAG.30.en
Two WTI Road Ecologists are authors of a newly published study that explored the use of mitigation credits for transportation projects. Rob Ament and Marcel Huijser, in collaboration with research partners at the engineering firm of WSP USA, led the research for “Valuing Wildlife Crossings and Enhancements for Mitigation Credits,” a project sponsored by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), part of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Mitigation crediting could provide a valuation approach for state DOTs interested in promoting the construction of wildlife crossings and other enhancements to mitigate transportation project impacts.
The report includes extensive information collected from a survey of more than 200 state DOTs and natural resource agencies on valuation methods and mitigation credits that have been used by state DOTs and their partners, as well as potential methods and approaches that could be developed in the future. The study also highlights four case studies of wildlife connectivity mitigation from California, Colorado, and Florida.
The report is available for download from the National Academies Press website. The American Association of Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) also highlighted the publication in its daily newsletter last week.
The West Region Transportation Workforce Center has released the University Partnership Playbook, a step-by-step guide for creating multi-project collaborations between public agencies and universities. The collaborations offer students hands-on transportation project experience within their university courses and provide agencies with added expertise and capacity for community-based projects.
The Playbook uses the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Model, a framework for making university resources (faculty, students, laboratories, specialized and multidisciplinary expertise, etc.) available to public entities to help solve their priority challenges. At the same time, it promotes professional development and career awareness opportunities for university students.
Designed for public agencies and other potential partners who are interested in starting or expanding a partnership with a university, the playbook includes:
- Tried and true implementation steps for organizing a successful university partnership
- Common challenges and fixes
- Adaptations to the model
- Success stories from different locations around the country, which highlight potential outcomes and benefits
The University Partnership Playbook is available to read or download on the WRTWC Resources webpage.
Interested in Road Ecology research? Check out these recent and upcoming publications.
WOLVERINE TRAPPING: The Journal of Wildlife Management has published “The Sustainability of Wolverine Trapping Mortality in Southern Canada,” by Garth Mowat, Tony Clevenger, and their research team. It summarizes the team’s research study, in which they observed wolverines over a large area of southern British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, used spatial capture‐recapture models to estimate density, and calculated trapping kill rates using provincial fur harvest data. The study was also highlighted in a December feature story by the Wildlife Society: “Are southwest Canada wolverines being overharvested?”
Citation: Mowat, G., Clevenger, A.P., Kortello, A.D., Hausleitner, D., Barrueto, M., Smit, L., Lamb, C., DorsEy, B. and Ott, P.K. (2019), The Sustainability of Wolverine Trapping Mortality in Southern Canada. Jour. Wild. Mgmt.. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21787
EFFECTS OF ROADS IN LATIN AMERICA. In 2020, the Environmental Impact Assessment Review will publish “Effects of Roads on Terrestrial Vertebrate Species in Latin America,” co-authored by Tony Clevenger. It summarizes a review to qualitatively and quantitatively assess scientific research papers addressing road impacts on vertebrate species in Latin America. The paper also summarizes research gaps and recommends an approach for future research.
Citation: Pinto, F., Clevenger, A., and Grilo, C. (2020). Effects of Roads on Terrestrial Vertebrate Species in Latin America. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 81 (2020) 106337.
NIGHT-TIME SPEED LIMITS: The National Transportation Research Database (TRID) has posted the final report for the project “Effectiveness of Night-time Speed Limit Reduction in Reducing Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions.” For this project, Research Scientist Marcel Huijser and his partners investigated the effects of speed limit reductions at mule deer collision hotspots in Wyoming. The researchers studied the effects of the speed limits on vehicle speeds, on the interactions between wildlife and vehicles, and on the number of observed collisions.
Citation: Riginos, C., Fairbank, E. Hansen, J. Kolek & M. Huijser. 2019. Effectiveness of night-time speed limit reduction in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions. Report No. FHWA-WY-1904F. Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative, Jackson / The Nature Conservancy, Lander, Wyoming, USA. https://trid.trb.org/view/1659707