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Research Recap, January 23: Crime Influences Travel, Beijing Air Pollution, Unexpected Road Safety Risks

People living in areas designated as higher crime neighborhoods are 17 percent more likely to take public transit instead of driving private vehicles. Photo by M.V. Jantzen.

Crime’s Influence on Travel Modes

The Mineta Transportation Institute published a free report studying how neighborhood crime affects the way people choose their travel mode. The report finds that high crime neighborhoods tend to discourage residents from walking or riding a bicycle. In fact, the odds of walking over driving decrease by 17.25 percent for work trips and 61 percent for non-work trips when comparing a high crime neighborhood to a lower crime one. On the other hand, the odds of taking public transit over choosing private vehicles increases by 17.25 percent for work trips in a higher crime neighborhood. When it comes to non-work trips, the odds of taking public transit increase by 164 percent.

Stigma of High Density Living

Negative perceptions of high-density living in Adelaide, South Australia are thwarting the government’s plans of building transit-oriented developments over the next 30 years. Results from a study conducted by Harrison Research found that the public tends to perceive higher density as concrete blocks, attracting undesirable and anti-social people. The public also equates higher density living standards with crime and safety issues, a perception left over from a time when high-rise apartments provided cheap accommodations for people with low socio-economic status. The city has a population of 1.2 million and is looking to grow by 560,000 people by 2040.

Intersections of Land Use and Public Health in San Francisco

According to a new study by the Pacific Institute and the Ditching Dirty Diesel Collaborative, 74 percent of Priority Development Areas in the San Francisco Bay region are far enough from freight transport hazards to be suitable for housing and safe from diesel pollution. Using mapping and spatial analysis, the report looks at the conflicts between transport-related land uses and sensitive land uses like housing, schools, parks and health clinics. The report recommends that land located at a health-protective distance from freight-related land uses should be prioritized for new housing and other sensitive land uses, while the remaining areas should be reserved for commercial and light industrial development to create jobs for local residents.

Beijing Air Quality Data

Beijing released hourly readings of PM2.5, recorded from a point 4 miles west of Tiananmen Square. PM2.5 stands for particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. PM2.5 is also referred to as a “fine” particle and poses the greatest health risks due to its small size and ability to get lodged deeply into lungs. According to Beijing’s readings, the PM2.5 level in the city is at 0.015 milligrams per cubic meter, which is considered “good” for a 24-hour exposure at that level by EPA standards. It is important to note that Beijing interprets air quality data through less stringent standards than the U.S. Although Beijing reported the readings as “good,” the same day reading by the U.S. Embassy in the eastern edge of downtown had a reading of “moderate.”

Tired New Dads

According to a new study conducted by the Southern Cross University men suffering from fatigue because of newborn babies are 26 percent more likely to have a near-miss on the road to and from work than someone else. According to the authors of the study, the findings paint a disturbing picture for fathers with babies undergoing worsening fatigue over the first 12 weeks of the baby’s life, due to poor and interrupted sleep with potential consequences at work and on the road. Although most of the men in the study had time off at the birth of their children. As a potential solution, the authors suggest extending parental leave for fathers to later in the baby’s life rather than the first two weeks.

U.S. DOT Grants for Transportation Research

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a $77 million in grants to 22 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing the nation. The UTCs are located throughout the United States and conduct research that directly support the priorities of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Here is a list of universities that received a grant.

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