RESEARCH - Understanding and Using New Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities

Wise OwlWe are seeing significant changes to city streets that create more room for transportation modes other than the automobile. Your opinion of these changes likely depends whether you are inside or outside of that automobile. Is it an informed opinion? Where do you find information on how these things work? Good questions!

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets standards that Canada generally rubber stamps and follows. The agency has created a document that is a literature review of these new facilities and how the public is informed to interact with them. Our provincial manual, Learn to Drive Smart and the Motor Vehicle Act are still in the process of being updated to reflect the new reality.

In the meantime, it is up to us to learn what to do with the help of advocates and local agencies.

From the Executive Summary of Understanding and Using New Pedestrian and Bicycle Facilities:

Research has explored the benefits of innovative pedestrian and bicycle facilities, such as leading pedestrian intervals, rectangular rapid-flashing beacons, and contraflow bike lanes. However, these facilities are new to many road users. The report provides information on new pedestrian and bicycle treatments and (1) the behavior and knowledge of pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers traversing through, on, and around the new facilities, and (2) law enforcement activity around the facilities, so that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can develop and improve countermeasure programs to help reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities. To meet this goal, the research team conducted a systematic literature review of treatments and their impacts as well as a review of current outreach practices.