NCHRP 07-31 [Pending]
State DOT and Tribal Use of Active Transportation Data: Practices, Sources, Needs, and Gaps
| Project Data
||Stephan A. Parker
In 2018, 6,283 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, 17% of all traffic fatalities and the highest since 1990. This is a 3.4% increase in pedestrian fatalities from 2017. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities increased by 32% in the 10-year period between 2008 and 2017. During that same time period, total traffic fatalities decreased by 0.8%. Studies have shown that pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities represent only the “tip of the iceberg” with respect to all crashes involving these modes. Prior research indicates that more than half of all pedestrian/bike injuries are unreported in the police data systems used by state safety programs. Improved data to measure non-fatal injuries will vastly enhance the validity of the tools applied by state departments of transportation (DOTs) and tribes to prioritize safety investments.
State DOTs and tribal agencies use data to inform decision-making processes from statewide, tribal, and regional planning, to project-level planning and development, to the evaluation of completed projects. However, data sources are not always available for a variety of reasons: agencies have not set up systems or prioritized data collection for these modes to the same level that they have for driving, existing data that are mainly utilized for other purposes have not yet been identified as usable for active transportation purposes, agencies have not prioritized collecting and stewarding their data, or agencies have not gone in search of sources to supplement what they could be doing themselves. Data could be a powerful tool for agencies when determining which bicycle and pedestrian corridors/projects are most critical and, once built, clearly quantifying their effects and potential maintenance requirements to allow sustainable usage. When states and tribes collect their own information, they may gather, clean, maintain, update, store, and publish their data.
State DOTs and tribes need up-to-date geospatial data that indicates where sidewalks, bicycle facilities, accessible public transportation stops and stations, and other infrastructure are located. For active transportation purposes, the condition of the infrastructure is important, including when considering Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines. Periodic analyses of conditions could be collected to determine rehabilitation for usage. Data could also identify populations more likely to utilize active transportation infrastructure and potentially aid in determining latent demand for the construction of such infrastructure. Clear data related to existing active transportation facilities would also help states quantify the effectiveness of these facilities and aid in pre- and post-construction analysis. Data standardization could facilitate peer comparisons and analyses on a state-to-state, tribe-to-tribe, regional, or national level. Active transportation data could also be synergized with other data sets (including those focused on environment, equity, environmental justice, and public health) for additional analyses.
State DOT and tribal active transportation programs and their partners at other state, local, tribal, and territorial organizations are looking to answer questions on data standardization, sharing, and governance such as:
- What innovative, cost-effective data use cases could provide scalable examples among state DOT and tribal practitioners?
- What nontraditional or unusual sources or applications of data (that may be primarily for other purposes) could be adapted or integrated into active transportation analyses (e.g., police and hospital reports)?
- What practices do peer agencies recommend for identifying, collecting, cleaning, utilizing, analyzing, standardizing, storing, publishing, and funding data? How do they address privacy and legal concerns?
- How can tribes and state DOTS exchange data with other tribal, state, and local governments; public transportation; and rural and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs)?
- What data are available on funding, facilities, public initiatives, multi-use trails, bicycle sharing, micromobility usage, standard practices, staffing, maintenance agreements, regional data-sharing partnerships, and regional and interstate connectivity?
- How many lane-miles of facilities exist or are planned per active transportation mode? How do they relate to funding and funding sources?
- Where, specifically, are resources flowing (geographically)? What also may be behind local agencies not matching project costs by state and federal programs which may prevent active transportation enhancements?
- What resources exist in state DOTs, tribes, MPOs, and local governments? What is the bicycle/pedestrian share of funding and staffing?
- How are tribes and state DOTs staffed to acquire and utilize new data?
- What are examples of effective state DOT and tribal practices in the acquisition, use, maintenance, and application of data? How are they structured? How are they funded?
- How do state DOTs and tribes handle cross-border data practices, including cross-state MPOs, urban/rural overlaps, and tribal/non-tribal jurisdictions?
- What injury data monitoring/surveillance systems are in place? Are there opportunities to further enhance the ability of existing systems to document health and safety outcomes, particularly for active travel modes? What barriers or safeguards are there when it comes to sharing this information with state DOTs and tribes?
- What methods and data sources, if any, are used to measure injuries that are not reported in police crash report systems, including falls and crashes not directly involving vehicles that occur in the right-of-way and could be attributable to the built environment or used for safety and health planning purposes?
- What data is currently not being shared among jurisdictions? Why not?
- What data is currently not being collected? Why not?
- How often are data sets re-collected? Are there best practices to draw on in recommending the frequency of data updates?
Research is needed to summarize existing literature on active transportation data, catalog relevant sources and data sets related to active transportation, identify data needs, and identify data gaps.
The objective of this project is to develop a playbook for state DOTs and tribes on the use of active transportation data. At a minimum, the research team shall: (1) determine how state DOTs and tribes are using data; (2) identify data sources, gaps, and recommendations on the next steps to integrate and develop the data and tools state DOTs and tribes need; (3) assess the state of the practice regarding pedestrian and bicycle injury and death reporting and integration systems; (4) critically examine existing methods; (5) demonstrate best practices; and (6) identify future data improvement needs.
Potential tasks include but are not limited to:
- Review and summarize/synthesize current research on active transportation data practices.
- Through targeted outreach to state DOT and tribal staff, collect information on concerns, priorities, interests, and information gaps related to current and anticipated uses of active transportation data, including effective practices, case studies, checklists, example position descriptions, and scopes for consulting contracts.
- Describe data exchange practices and policies, including both (a) how state DOTs and tribes access data from MPOs; rural transportation planning organizations (RTPOs); tribal, state, and local agencies; and (b) how state DOTs and tribes share or publish data. Describe the current state of data sources and uses, including barriers to accessing data. Potential examples include Florida’s geographic information system (GIS) layer on bike lanes, right-of-way (ROW) data and update basis, utilities (particularly as they affect project costs), and design speed/posted speed.
- Describe to what degree tribes and state DOTs are aware of and adhering to the Consensus Recommendations for Pedestrian Injury Surveillance and using similar or standard and comparable definitions of pedestrians, bicyclists, and assistive mobility device users for non-fatal injury reporting. For emerging travel modes where standard definitions do not exist (such as e-scooters and other forms of micro-mobility), what definitions are being used to track non-fatal injury reporting? How are facility data ingested into injury and fatality reporting so that contributing factors can be understood and addressed?
- Summarize tribal and state DOT data unmet needs, sorting them into larger buckets, such as condition ranking for active transportation infrastructure; assets; presence or absence of sidewalks and their condition; Americans with Disabilities Act (including Accessible Pedestrian Signals); safety [including signalization, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP), and cost-benefit analysis (CBA)]; equity; and Public Rights-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG).
- Catalog public and private active transportation data sets including facility and usage data. Identify common attributes and uses, including both well-known sources (e.g., American Community Survey) and less utilized sources (e.g., police reports; hospital reports; bicycle/pedestrian cameras; counters on paths; intersection cameras; crowdsourced data (including facility maintenance requests, crash reporting, and usage); gray literature (e.g., Masters theses and PhD dissertations); and identified gaps in demographic data on bicycle/pedestrian facilities availability and use, quality of bicycle/pedestrian networks, and associated maps.
- Conduct a gap analysis between the data and resources that tribes and state DOTs need/want versus what is currently available/being used. Unmet needs include the identification of problem areas/geographic locations; disparate or disproportionate availability of facilities; and public availability of data/maps. How is the lack of infrastructure in minoritized communities being assessed? What factors are there that detail the lack of infrastructure in underserved socio-economic zones (e.g., lack of staffing and economics to match grants)? What are key metrics for equity in bicycle/pedestrian facilities and operations? What gaps are due to data restrictions (e.g., HIPAA)? How might they be overcome?
- Develop recommendations on the next steps for developing, standardizing, maintaining, and storing the identified data, information, models, and/or tools; policy options for bicycle/pedestrian data parity with roads, bridges, and transit; metrics used; funding; and project selection decisions. Are there pilots that can be broadly adopted after a successful demonstration? Are there examples of rapid deployment from pilots?
- Develop a draft national standardized format for data from MPOs (and other entities) to be ingested into state DOT and tribal data systems addressing safety; accessibility; equity; assets and asset management; state of good repair; equity in performance measures; and access to meaningful destinations. Include a basis for measuring and reporting how such data are being meaningfully applied to funding decisions.
The final deliverables will include but not be limited to:
- A Playbook for State DOT and Tribal Use of Active Transportation Data. Include case examples of current agency best practices around fatal and non-fatal injury data monitoring and linkage that demonstrates the value of investment in data linkage and highlights how agency practices leverage data improvements for various purposes.
- A stand-alone technical memorandum that identifies implementation pathways, key implementers of the results, and well-defined scopes of work for further dissemination and pilot implementation of the draft standard and Playbook. The technical memorandum should provide adequate detail about how state DOTs, tribes, and other agencies can implement the results of NCHRP Project 07-31.
- A report with the following:
- Documentation of the research activities;
- Key findings;
- A draft standardized format for data; and
- Other topics identified during the project.
STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.