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Research Recap, May 2: Safe Cycle Tracks, The Value of Accessibility, Surprisingly Active Suburbia
Study concludes Montreal's cycle tracks are safer than roads without biking infrastructure. Photo by Paul Smith.

Study concludes Montreal's cycle tracks are safer than biking in the street. Photo by Paul Smith.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Safe Cycle Tracks

Cycle tracks- physically separated bicycle paths along roads- provide a 28 percent lower risk of injury than on-street cycling, reports a new study by Harvard University researcher Anne Lusk. The study compared the crash rates of six Montreal cycle tracks to the crash rates of nearby streets lacking cycling infrastructure. The full study is featured in the most recent issue of Injury Prevention.

Lightweight Automobiles

A UTS research team successfully developed samples of grapheme paper, a material derived from graphite. Showing promise for automotive applications, like inner and outer car bodies, grapheme holds exceptional thermal, electrical and mechanical properties. The material is also two times harder and six times lighter than carbon steel, a material found widespread in today’s automobiles.

Gas Prices and Traffic Crashes

New research from Mississippi State’s Social Science Research Center offers a silver lining for rising gas prices in its finding of a connection between traffic crashes and prices at the pump. The research found that the rising cost of gas drives a decline in all traffic accidents, including drunk-driving accidents.  The decrease in traffic crashes was found in both the short term (within the same month of the examined gas prices), and the intermediate term (within the same year).

The Value of Accessibility

A new Brookings Institution report explores the concept of accessibility by outlining its place in transportation systems, articulating its value, and providing transportation policy recommendations. The report defines accessibility as the ease of reaching valued destinations, and posits that it can help fund transportation through a virtuous circle: infrastructure creates access, access creates value, and value can be captured to fund infrastructure.

Electric Vehicle Adaptation

The recent popularity of forecasting the future of electric vehicles continues with a new report by J.D. Power and Associates. The study yields the percentages of consumers willing to consider the following alternative powertrain vehicles for their next purchase:

  • Hybrid Electric Vehicles: 51 percent
  • Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles: 37 percent
  • Diesel Engine Vehicles: 31 percent
  • Battery Electric Vehicles: 26 percent

Taking these numbers into account, the report foresees hybrid and electric vehicles as composing less than 10 percent of the US market through 2016.

Researching Electric Buses

The Manitoba government is investing $1 million in a $3 million, three-year project to develop an all-electric transit bus. The project’s other participants include New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Manitoba Hydro, and Winnipeg’s Red River College.

Surprisingly Active Suburbia

Suburban communities have surprisingly high non-motorized transportation rates, suggests a new study on suburban multifamily housing. Conducted by Nico Larco at the University of Oregon, the study uncovered that 44 percent of development residents choose bicycling or walking to other forms of transportation, especially in neighborhoods well-connected to commercial areas.  Across all the suburban multifamily housing studied, 38.7 percent of all trips taken to nearby commercial areas were on foot or by bicycle.