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Traffic Injury Impacts of Streetcar Systems: Police, EMS, and Contextual Data from Multiple Cities

Abstract: Our presentation will describe lessons learned from collecting data across multiple communities to investigate how new streetcar systems impact transportation-related injuries. New roadway designs and slower automobile traffic speeds associated with streetcar development may reduce the chances of injuries, but new rail tracks, lane configurations, and a more complex mix of pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles could introduce greater risk to streetcar corridors. Using Milwaukee and at least four study communities (e.g., Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, Dallas, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Tempe, Tucson, or Washington, DC) and two similarly-sized control communities, we will compile traffic injury, multimodal traffic volume, and roadway design data to test the change in incidence, rate, and geographic distribution of injuries after streetcar projects are implemented. Injury and exposure data will be collected for streetcar corridors and surrounding streets from a three-year period before streetcar construction and a three-year period after the beginning of streetcar operation.

Traffic injury data will come from two primary sources: police traffic crash reports and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) injury records. Importantly, EMS data include some injuries that are not captured in police-reported crashes, such as bicyclist falls caused by streetcar tracks. Vehicle volumes and pedestrian and bicyclist activity data will be gathered to control for exposure and assess injury risk. However, these data are often created using different methods and seldom cover all study corridors, so we will use extrapolation and other approaches where necessary to generate useful exposure estimates. We will be collecting data between May and July 2018, providing a timely example of multi-jurisdiction data collection for transportation injury analysis. Our presentation will assess challenges, including obtaining data, ensuring consistency of police and EMS data records between jurisdictions, and creating comparable geographic data coverage across communities. It will also present preliminary findings about traffic injuries in streetcar corridors to illustrate the types of comparative analysis that are possible using data from multiple communities.

Dr. Robert Schneider  -  Associate Professor in the UW-Milwaukee Department of Urban Planning, has more than 15 years of experience in the pedestrian and bicycle transportation field. His research focuses on three interrelated areas of multimodal planning: travel behavior, safety analysis, and performance measurement. Dr. Schneider’s safety research has developed a new method to classify pedestrian and bicyclist crashes, identified roadway design and pedestrian behavior characteristics associated with driver yielding at crosswalks, and modeled the relationship between intersection design characteristics (e.g., median islands, designated right-turn lanes) and pedestrian crashes after controlling for pedestrian and motor vehicle volumes. Dr. Schneider is the current chair the Transportation Research Board Pedestrian Committee, providing national and international leadership that bridges the academic and professional community.



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