Different Modes = Different Experiences
While the transportation network is meant to accommodate a variety of transportation modes, the experience varies for users of each mode. Cyclists and pedestrians face a greater risk of injury or death when involved in a crash as compared to drivers/passengers of motor vehicles. Crashes involving active travel modes are most likely to occur at an intersection, therefore it is imperative to understand what characteristics make any given intersection safer or more dangerous.
Expanding the Geographic Scope
The goal of this research was to build upon the findings from a pilot study of Salt Lake County (2012) to examine which characteristics of the built-environment, roadways, and signal programming have the biggest impact on safety and crash rates for active travelers. This phase of data collection examined intersections in Weber, Davis, and Utah Counties.
Collecting the Data
Using data from the Utah Office of Highway Safety and UDOT, crashes involving at least one pedestrian or cyclists were highlighted within the study area. Intersections with the highest numbers of incidents were then further evaluated on 83 distinct criteria. Intersections with very low crash rates were also evaluated and included in the analysis for comparison.
What Makes an Intersection Dangerous?
The analysis found that incorporating longer signal lengths, reducing the presence of left turn arrows, and limiting non-residential driveways within 100 meters of intersections can significantly reduce the number of non-motorized accidents. Additionally, road construction at intersections was shown to significantly increase the number of non-motorized incidents; particularly those involving cyclists.
System Improvements Benefit All Users
Addressing these issues and enacting appropriate improvements will not only improve safety conditions for non-motorized users, but will likely also provide an enhanced travel experience for automobile travelers and result in additional external benefits of traffic calming and improved flow.
A follow-up to this research is currently underway, and will examine intersection safety off the Wasatch Front in Cache, Tooele, and Washington Counties, as well as in Moab City.