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Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook

August 21, 2014 Comments off

Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 770: Estimating Bicycling and Walking for Planning and Project Development: A Guidebook contains methods and tools for practitioners to estimate bicycling and walking demand as part of regional-, corridor-, or project-level analyses.

The products of the research include a guidebook for practitioners on a range of methods for estimating bicycling and walking activity and a CD-ROM containing a GIS Walk Accessibility Model, spreadsheets, and the contractor’s final report, which documents the research and tools that operationalize the methods described in the guidebook.

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DHS OIG — Implementation Status of the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services Program

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Implementation Status of the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services Program (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

The National Protection Programs Directorate (NPPD) is primarily responsible for fulfilling the DHS national, nonͲlaw enforcement cybersecurity missions. Within NPPD, the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications is responsible for the implementation of the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program. Our overall objective was to determine the effectiveness of the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program to disseminate cyber threat and technical information with the critical infrastructure sectors through commercial service providers.

NPPD has made progress in expanding the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program. For example, as of May 2014, 40 critical infrastructure entities participate in the program. Additionally, 22 companies have signed memorandums of agreement to join the program. Further, NPPD has established the procedures and guidance required to carry out key tasks and operational aspects of the program, including an inͲdepth security validation and accreditation process. NPPD has also addressed the privacy risk associated with the program by developing a Privacy Impact Assessment. Finally, NPPD has engaged sector-specific agencies and government furnished information providers to expand the program, and has developed program reporting and metric capabilities to monitor the program.

Although NPPD has made progress, the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program has been slow to expand because of limited outreach and resources. In addition, cyber threat information sharing relies on NPPD’s manual reviews and analysis, which has led to inconsistent cyber threat indicator quality.

NICB’s Hot Wheels: America’s 10 Most Stolen Vehicles

August 20, 2014 Comments off

NICB’s Hot Wheels: America’s 10 Most Stolen Vehicles
Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) today released its annual Hot Wheels report, which identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. The report examines vehicle theft data submitted by law enforcement to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and determines the vehicle make, model and model year most reported stolen in 2013.

Also in today’s release is a list of the top 25 2013 vehicle makes and models that were reported stolen in calendar year 2013.

For 2013, the most stolen vehicles* in the nation were (total thefts in parentheses):

1. Honda Accord (53,995)
2. Honda Civic (45,001)
3. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size) (27,809)
4. Ford Pickup (Full Size) (26,494)
5. Toyota Camry (14,420)
6. Dodge Pickup (Full Size) (11,347)
7. Dodge Caravan (10,911)
8. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee (9,272)
9. Toyota Corolla (9,010)
10. Nissan Altima (8,892)

Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This publication presents statistics relating to vehicles which were registered at 31 January 2014 with a motor vehicle registration authority. Motor vehicle registration statistics reflect the information as recorded in registration documents.

Statistics are provided on vehicle types comprising passenger vehicles, campervans, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and motor cycles. Vehicle characteristic information includes make of vehicle, year of manufacture, type of fuel that the vehicle was registered as using, and Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combination Mass for trucks. The size of the motor vehicle fleet is also compared with the estimated resident population.

CRS Insights — Shale Gas Gathering Pipelines: Safety Issues (August 1, 2014)

August 13, 2014 Comments off

CRS Insights — Shale Gas Gathering Pipelines: Safety Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The recent expansion of U.S. natural gas resources extracted from unconventional sources, primarily shale, has resulted in a glut of U.S. natural gas supply and the lowest domestic gas prices in over a decade. Absent any new constraints, unconventional gas is projected to become the dominant source of the U.S. natural gas supply by 2040. This unprecedented growth of natural gas production is driving massive infrastructure investments by the U.S. gas industry. Such infrastructure includes new roads to access gas fields, well sites, drilling equipment, gathering pipelines to collect produced gas from the wells, processing facilities to separate the natural gas from other products, transmission pipelines to transport the gas long distances, and natural gas storage facilities. Of these infrastructure investments, new pipelines have received particular attention among policy makers because they are widespread and essential for transporting natural gas from producing regions to consuming markets.

Commuter Mode Choice and Free Car Parking, Public Transportation Benefits, Showers/Lockers, and Bike Parking at Work: Evidence from the Washington, DC Region

August 13, 2014 Comments off

Commuter Mode Choice and Free Car Parking, Public Transportation Benefits, Showers/Lockers, and Bike Parking at Work: Evidence from the Washington, DC Region (PDF)
Source: Journal of Public Transportation

Municipalities and employers in the U.S. attempt to reduce commuting by automobile through commuter benefits for riding public transportation, walking, or cycling. Many employers provide a combination of benefits, often including free car parking alongside benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling. This study evaluates the relationship between commuter benefits and mode choice for the commute to work using revealed preference data on 4,630 regular commuters, including information about free car parking, public transportation benefits, showers/lockers, and bike parking at work in the Washington, DC region. Multinomial logistic regression results show that free car parking at work is related to more driving. Commuters offered either public transportation benefits, showers/lockers, or bike parking, but no free car parking, are more likely to either ride public transportation, walk, or cycle to work. The joint provision of benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling is related to an increased likelihood to commute by all three of these modes and a decreased likelihood of driving. However, the inclusion of free car parking in benefit packages alongside benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling, seems to offset the effect of these incentives. Benefits for public transportation, walking, and cycling, seem to work best when car parking is not free.

Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending

August 12, 2014 Comments off

Cash for Corollas: When Stimulus Reduces Spending
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research (via Texas A&M)

Cash for Clunkers was a 2009 economic stimulus program aimed at increasing new vehicle spending by subsidizing the replacement of older vehicles. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show the increase in sales during the two month program was completely offset during the following seven to nine months, consistent with previous research. However, we also find the program’s fuel efficiency restrictions induced households to purchase more fuel efficient but less expensive vehicles, thereby reducing industry revenues by three billion dollars over the entire nine to eleven month period. This highlights the conflict between the stimulus and environmental objectives of the policy.

Most older pedestrians are unable to cross the road in time: a cross-sectional study

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Most older pedestrians are unable to cross the road in time: a cross-sectional study
Source: Age and Ageing

Objectives: to compare walking speed in the UK older population with the speed required to utilise pedestrian crossings (≥1.2 m/s), and determine health and socio-demographic associations with walking impairment.

Design: cross-sectional study using Health Survey for England 2005 data.

Setting: private households in England.

Participants: random population sample of 3,145 adults (1,444 men) aged ≥65 years.

Main outcome measures: walking speed was assessed by timing a walk of 8 feet at normal pace. Walking impairment was defined as walking speed <1.2 m/s or non-participation in the test due to being unsafe or unable.

Results: the mean walking speed was 0.9 m/s in men and 0.8 m/s in women; 84% of men and 93% of women ≥65 years had walking impairment. Female gender, increasing age, lower socio-economic status, poorer health and lower grip strength were predictors of walking impairment.

Conclusion: most older adults either cannot walk 8 feet safely or cannot walk fast enough to use a pedestrian crossing in the UK. The health impacts on older adults include limited independence and reduced opportunities for physical activity and social interaction. An assumed normal walking speed for pedestrian crossings of 1.2 m/s is inappropriate for older adults and revision of these timings should be considered.

EIA mapping tool shows which U.S. energy facilities are at risk from flooding

August 8, 2014 Comments off

EIA mapping tool shows which U.S. energy facilities are at risk from flooding
Source: Energy Information Administration

The public now has a new online tool to help inform them about energy facilities’ exposure to flooding caused by hurricanes, overflowing rivers, flash floods, and other wet-weather events. Developed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the Flood Vulnerability Assessment Map, shows which power plants, oil refineries, crude oil rail terminals, and other critical energy infrastructure are vulnerable to coastal and inland flooding.

The mapping tool combines EIA’s existing U.S. Energy Mapping System with flood hazard information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and represents EIA’s latest step in making energy data more accessible, understandable, relevant, and responsive to users’ needs.

A Survey of Public Opinion About Autonomous and Self-Driving Vehicles In The U.S., The U.K., And Australia

August 7, 2014 Comments off

A Survey of Public Opinion About Autonomous and Self-Driving Vehicles In The U.S., The U.K., And Australia (PDF)
Source: University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (via The Atlantic)

This survey examined public opinion regarding self-driving-vehicle technology in three major English-speaking countries—the U.S., the U.K., and Australia. The survey yielded useable responses from 1,533 persons 18 years and older.

  • The main findings (applicable to each of the three countries) were as follows:
  • The majority of respondents had previously heard of autonomous or self-driving vehicles, had a positive initial opinion of the technology, and had high expectations about the benefits of the technology.
  • However, the majority of respondents expressed high levels of concern about riding in self-driving vehicles, security issues related to self-driving vehicles, and self-driving vehicle not performing as well as actual drivers.
  • Respondents also expressed high levels of concern about vehicles without driver controls; self-driving vehicles moving while unoccupied; and self-driving commercial vehicles, busses, and taxis.
  • The majority of respondents expressed a desire to have this technology in their vehicle. However, a majority was also unwilling to pay extra for the technology; those who were willing to pay offered similar amounts in each country.
  • Females expressed higher levels of concern with self-driving vehicles than did males. Similarly, females were more cautious about their expectations concerning benefits from using self-driving vehicles.

In comparison to the respondents in the U.K. and Australia, respondents in the U.S. expressed greater concern about riding in self-driving vehicles, data privacy, interacting with non-self-driving vehicles, self-driving vehicles not driving as well as human drivers in general, and riding in a self-driving vehicle with no driver controls available.

The main implications of these results are that motorists and the general public in the three countries surveyed, while expressing high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology, feel positive about self-driving vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits, and generally desire self-driving-vehicle technology when it becomes available (though a majority is not willing to pay extra for such technology at this time).

See: Why Are Americans so Suspicious of Self-Driving Cars? (The Atlantic)

Rapid Bus: A Low-Cost, High-Capacity Transit System for Major Urban Areas

August 7, 2014 Comments off

Rapid Bus: A Low-Cost, High-Capacity Transit System for Major Urban Areas
Source: Cato Institute

Prompted by federal funding, more than 30 American cities have built or are building new rail transit lines. These expensive lines have debatable value as they put transit agencies in debt and impose high maintenance costs, yet they carry few riders more than the buses they replace and produce minimal, if any, environmental benefits. As an alternative to rail transit, this paper proposes a “rapid bus” system that would offer fast, frequent, and comfortable transportation to most people in an urban area. This paper will estimate the annualized costs of such a system and compare it with the costs of a traditional system of rail supplemented by feeder buses. Based on these estimates, this paper finds that

  • While rail lines serve a limited number of corridors, for less money a rapid bus system can reach nearly everyone in an urban area.
  • A rapid bus system can offer more frequent service at faster average speeds and fewer transfers between transit vehicles, all at a lower cost than rail.
  • Rapid buses also offer more comfortable rides because two-thirds to three-fourths of bus riders can be seated, whereas more than half of rail riders must stand when the rail system is operating at capacity.
  • Rapid bus systems are scalable, with low incremental costs, as downtown employment centers grow from 40,000 to 500,000 jobs. In contrast, rail systems require huge expenditures to start up and expand.
  • While a four-line light-rail system can bring only about 36,000 people per hour into a downtown area, the rapid bus system described in this paper can bring as many as 140,000 people per hour into downtown.
  • While rapid buses cannot cost-effectively replace the long-established subways and commuter trains serving New York City, they could save taxpayers’ money by replacing aging rail transit systems in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington.
  • Urban areas with 40,000–200,000 downtown jobs should expand their transit systems using rapid buses rather than light rail or other rail systems.
  • Urban areas with fewer than 40,000 downtown jobs probably do not need any form of high-capacity rapid transit.

Protecting Civilian Flights from Missiles – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Protecting Civilian Flights from Missiles – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777 en route from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, crashed over eastern Ukraine after apparently being struck by a surface-toair missile. The event has renewed congressional interest in protecting civilian aircraft from missiles, a topic of considerable interest in the context of protection against terrorist threats and risks to aircraft operated in conflict zones.
…..
It is unlikely that a DIRCM system would have offered protection against the attack that brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, as this incident appears to have involved a radar-guided missile. The DHS missile-protection effort did not focus on protections against radar-guided missiles, as these are rarely possessed by terrorists and insurgent groups. There are only two known cases of civilian aircraft encounters with radar-guided surface-to-air missiles. On July 3, 1988, a radar-guided missile launched by the USS Vincennes, a U.S. Navy cruiser operating in the Persian Gulf, brought down Iran Air Flight 655. On October 4, 2001, a Siberia Airlines Tupolev 154 was shot down over the Black Sea near Crimea during a Ukrainian military exercise.

Possible Missile Attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – CRS Insights

August 6, 2014 Comments off

Possible Missile Attack on Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 – CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17), a Boeing 777 bound from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed in eastern Ukraine.

MH17’s position was shown on live aircraft tracking websites using the airliner’s automated dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) signal. Its final reported position was near the Russia-Ukraine border at an altitude of 33,000 feet.

Initial reports from the crash scene indicated that the resulting debris field covered a large area. This is characteristic when an aircraft breaks up at high altitude (as opposed to diving into the ground or incidents on landing or takeoff, where the debris field is tightly confined around the point of impact). Inflight breakup can occur for a number of reasons, including metal fatigue (as in the case of two DeHavilland Comet jetliners in the 1950s); onboard explosions, whether caused by bombs or accidental combustion (such as TWA flight 800 in 1996); or external events like a missile attack (as was the case with Korean Air Lines 007 in 1983 and Iran Air 655 in 1988).

Because spontaneous inflight breakup of an airliner is a rare event, the crash’s proximity to an active conflict zone where military aircraft had recently been shot down led to speculation that MH17’s breakup may have been the result of a surface-to-air missile. This was reinforced when, almost immediately, pictures appeared in social media purporting to show Russian-built Buk anti-aircraft missile launchers near the crash site.

An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. — Implications for employees, companies, and the economy

August 4, 2014 Comments off

An Assessment of Paid Time Off in the U.S. — Implications for employees, companies, and the economy (PDF)
Source: Oxford Economics

The United States is one of the few industrialized countries that does not guarantee by law paid time off1 (PTO) for employees.2 However, PTO is still a key part of benefits packages offered by employers to attract high quality employees. Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. workers earn paid time off including vacation and personal days.

This study presents the findings of an extensive survey of 971 employees focusing on how paid time off is perceived and used in the United States. Management and non-management perspectives are explored separately as well as differences between public and private-sector employees, and between small and larger firms.

Survey results are analysed and extrapolated to the U.S. employment base to assess the total opportunity in terms of unused paid time off and the potential economic impacts if this time were converted to travel.

Our research finds that employers and employees perceive significant benefits to taking PTO. For the employer, benefits include more productive, focused and dedicated employees. For employees, time away from work reduces stress with notable benefits to relationships and health. Most employees report coming back to work feeling renewed and refreshed, and ready to focus on work.

However, despite most workers earning paid time off—and an apparently supportive corporate environment—many US workers do not use all of this entitled time. More than 4 of 10 employees finished 2013 with unused PTO.

A Guide to Regional Transportation Planning for Disasters, Emergencies, and Significant Events

August 1, 2014 Comments off

A Guide to Regional Transportation Planning for Disasters, Emergencies, and Significant Events
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 777: A Guide to Regional Transportation Planning for Disasters, Emergencies, and Significant Events uses foundational planning principles, case studies, tips, and tools to explain implementation of transportation planning for possible multijurisdictional disasters, emergencies, and other major events. In addition to the guide, there is a research report and a PowerPoint presentation describing the entire project.

Deloitte Survey: For Millennial Travelers, It’s the Experience That Counts

August 1, 2014 Comments off

Deloitte Survey: For Millennial Travelers, It’s the Experience That Counts
Source: Deloitte

Two-thirds (66 percent) of millennial high-frequency travelers rate “unique rewards” as an important factor when choosing a hotel loyalty program, compared with just 43 percent of their older counterparts, according to a new Deloitte study, Winning the Race for Guest Loyalty.

Three-quarters (75 percent) of millennial respondents also indicate they would remain loyal to a hotel brand even if they lost all their points and status, compared with two-thirds (66 percent) among other travelers.

Additionally, the types of program benefits millennial travelers expect are no longer solely points-focused. Overall, 68 percent of frequent travelers indicate that they consider themselves loyal to the program where they have accumulated the most points. However, millennials highly value “soft” benefits such as VIP treatments and exclusive experiences more than other groups. Two-thirds (66 percent) of millennials indicate that unique experiences matter, compared with half (50 percent) of frequent travelers in other age groups.

The study also revealed that the average millennial traveler checks 10 online sources before making a travel purchase, and trusts advice from strangers online more than their own friends and family. Roughly one-quarter (24 percent) of millennials check social media or customer review sites before booking a hotel, whereas only 16 percent check with family.

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data

July 30, 2014 Comments off

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The number of commercial truck crossings into the United States from Canada and Mexico was 10.8 million in 2013, 1.1 percent more than in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). That 2013 increase follows increases from 2010 to 2012 after four years of decline from 2005 to 2009, a period that includes the last recession. The truck-crossing numbers are included in the 2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data posted today on the BTS website. The database also includes numbers of incoming trains, buses, containers, personal vehicles, and pedestrians entering the United States through land ports and ferry crossings on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico border. The database shows that there were 163.3 million person crossings into the U.S. from Mexico in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 4.6 percent increase from 2012. There were an additional 62.8 million person crossings into the U.S. from Canada in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 0.5 percent increase in person crossings from 2012.

CRS — “Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues

July 25, 2014 Comments off

“Black Boxes” in Passenger Vehicles: Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

An event data recorder (EDR) is an electronic sensor installed in a motor vehicle that records certain technical information about a vehicle’s operational performance for a few seconds immediately prior to and during a crash. Although over 90% of all new cars and light trucks sold in the United States are equipped with them, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing that all new light vehicles have EDRs installed in the future. Under previously adopted NHTSA rules, these devices have to capture at least 15 types of information related to the vehicle’s performance in the few seconds just before and immediately after a crash serious enough to result in deployment of airbags.

EDRs have the potential to make a significant contribution to highway safety. For example, EDR data showed that in several cases a Chevrolet Cobalt’s ignition switch turned the engine off while the car was still moving, causing the car to lose power steering and crash; the data directly contributed to the manufacturer’s decision to recall 2.6 million vehicles. EDR data could also be used, sometimes in conjunction with other vehicle technologies, to record in the few seconds before an accident such data as driver steering input, seat occupant size and position, and sound within a car.

The privacy of information collected by EDRs is a matter of state law, except that federal law bars NHTSA from disclosing personally identifiable information. The privacy aspects of EDRs and the ownership of the data they generate has been the subject of legislation in Congress since at least 2004. The House passed a floor amendment to the transportation appropriations bill in 2012 that would have prohibited use of federal funds to develop an EDR mandate. This provision was not enacted. The Senate passed two EDR-related provisions in its surface transportation reauthorization bill (S. 1813) in 2012, mandating EDRs on new cars sold after 2015 and directing a Department of Transportation study of privacy issues. The provisions were not included in the final bill.

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity

July 23, 2014 Comments off

Enterprising States 2014: Re-Creating Equality and Opportunity
Source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has released its annual Enterprising States study, offering an in-depth look at the free enterprise policies being implemented to promote economic growth at the state and local levels.

Now in its fifth edition, the Enterprising States study measures state performance overall and across five policy areas important for job growth and economic prosperity. Those five areas include:

  • Talent Pipeline
  • Exports and International Trade
  • Technology and Entrepreneurship
  • Business Climate
  • Infrastructure

The 2014 report relates these policies and practices to the need for collaboration between education, workforce development, and economic development to positively combat the nation’s growing skills gap.

How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations

July 23, 2014 Comments off

How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Legal Research Digest 46: How the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Other Privacy Laws Affect Public Transportation Operations explores whether the privacy and security rules established by HIPAA apply to transit agencies that possess patrons’ health information.

The first seven sections of this digest discuss HIPAA and whether various entities are subject to HIPAA’s privacy and security provisions applicable to the protection of protected health information, as defined by HIPAA. This digest also analyzes how protected health information is defined by HIPAA and discusses HIPAA’s Privacy Rule and Security Rule as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its most recent final rule.

This digest summarizes other important aspects of HIPAA including whether protected health information must be produced in response to a subpoena, discovery request, or a request under a freedom of information act (FOIA) or similar law. The remainder of the digest discusses the privacy of health information under other federal and state laws. The digest also covers industry standards and best practices used by transit agencies to protect the privacy of patrons’ health information.

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