Introduction: The Road Less Traveled

John A. Mathews

When I used to think of people biking to work, I pictured sweaty MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lycra) on ultra-light road bikes—riders who finished the Tour de France and then changed for their morning staff meeting. The reality is that not many people who bicycle are professional cyclists. I certainly don’t have an ultra-light road bike and a closet filled with polyurethane fiber. I just have my trusty 15-year-old mountain bike, and a cotton shirt or two.

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Pounds that Kill

Michael L. Anderson and Maximilian Auffhammer

Buying a car can be a stressful process, requiring choices based on quality, fit, and cost. When making this choice, we focus mainly on our own well-being and often ignore the negative effects our purchases may have on others. This illustrates the problem of externalities—public costs and benefits not reflected in the cost of a private choice.

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2017-05-26T21:41:23+00:00Categories: ACCESS 45, Fall 2014|Tags: |

Fuel-Efficiency Standards: Are Greener Cars Safer?

Mark Jacobsen

The United States has strengthened its fuel efficiency regulations several times in recent years in an effort to reduce the environmental, economic, and energy security costs associated with gasoline. These standards encourage auto­makers to increase fuel efficiency by using advanced technology and by manufacturing lighter, lower-horsepower vehicles. But are these new fuel-efficient vehicles safe?

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2017-05-26T21:41:31+00:00Categories: ACCESS 45, Fall 2014|Tags: , |

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Vehicular ad hoc Networks: Storms on the Horizon

Amelia Regan

Researchers and policy makers have long anticipated fully connected vehicular networks that will help prevent accidents, facilitate eco-friendly driving, and provide more accurate real-time traffic information. Today, vehicular ad hoc networks (VANETs) offer a promising way to achieve this goal. Using advances in wireless communications, computing, and vehicular technologies, VANETs rely on real-time communication not only with roadside sensors but also among vehicles and pedestrians. While there are still communication problems to solve within these complex systems, concerns about privacy, liability, and security are the chief obstacles that prevent progress towards large-scale implementation. Download the PDF.

Thinking Outside the Bus

Hiroyuki Iseki, Michael Smart, Brian D. Taylor, and Allison Yoh

In an era of stretched tax revenues, shrinking public sector budgets, and partisan debates over the appropriate role and scale of government, investments in public transit systems have been increasing. While the Great Recession has recently squeezed many transit operating budgets, overall public capital and operating subsidies of transit systems have grown dramatically over the past decade. Why have transit expenditures grown when so many other facets of public expenditure have shrunk?

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Life in the Fast Lane

Eric A. Morris

According to Lee Friedman, Donald Hedeker, and Elihu Richter, repealing the federal 55 mph speed limit in 1995 resulted in 12,545 deaths between 1995 and 2005. That's about 45 percent more American fatalities than we have suffered in 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan combined. And all those human tragedies are due not to weighty national security imperatives but to the fact that we all want to drive a little bit faster.

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2017-05-26T23:30:43+00:00Categories: ACCESS 38, Spring 2011|Tags: |

Fixing Broken Sidewalks

Donald Shoup

Public infrastructure often decays invisibly, and we are shocked when a bridge gives way or a water main breaks. Sidewalks, however, decay right before our eyes and under our feet. Perhaps because sidewalks fail gradually rather than collapse spectacularly, many cities have neglected sidewalk repairs and have let neighborhoods become less walkable. In Los Angeles, for example, 4,600 of the city’s 10,750 miles of sidewalks need some degree of repair at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. Despite this backlog, the city fixed an average of only 67 miles of sidewalks a year between 2000 and 2008. Even if sidewalks miraculously stopped breaking, at that pace it would take 69 years to repair all the existing damage.

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The Intersection of Trees and Safety

Elizabeth Macdonald

For at least 250 years, the finest of streets the world over have been lined with trees. On the best tree-lined streets the trees are planted all the way to the corners. Indeed, in Paris, a city noted for its street trees, if the regular spacing of trees along the street runs short at an intersection, there is likely to be an extra tree placed at the corner. Yet in America, elm- or oak-shaded residential streets and commercial main streets are all too often only memories of good American urban design. In the automobile age, a real concern with safety has resulted in street tree standards that dictate long setbacks from intersections, ostensibly to achieve unobstructed sight lines for drivers. But are street trees the safety problem they are purported to be?

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Comment: Terrorist Attacks and Transport Systems

Brian D. Taylor

Increasingly frequent and deadly bombings of public transit systems have put transportation officials around the world on edge. Buses and trains in London, Madrid, Moscow, Paris, Tokyo, and dozens of other cities have been the unlucky sites for terrorist attacks in recent years. Such attacks, quite understandably, have prompted calls here in the US and overseas for increased efforts to make public transit systems safe from terrorists. Such calls assume, of course, that public transit systems, or transportation and infrastructure systems more broadly, are the focus of the problem and the appropriate venue for policy- making and action. The solution, we are told, is transit security. But are these recent bus and subway bombings a transportation problem, or something much broader?

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2017-05-30T22:18:53+00:00Categories: ACCESS 28, Spring 2006|Tags: |

Keeping Children Safe in Cars

Jill Cooper

Child-safety seats baffle parents, even the most technologically oriented and safety-conscious ones. Selecting the right seat is complicated because seat types change as a child grows. Seats and harnesses must be assembled and installed in the car, and that can be tricky or nearly impossible depending on the car’s age and model. Finally, securing a child in the seat can be challenging, even if she cooperates. If the child is sleeping, wiggly, or impatient, it can be extremely trying. Securing the child and, for some, installing the seat may be repeated several times a day.

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