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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Improving Pedestrian and Motorist Safety Along Light Rail Alignments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14327.
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Page 8
Page 9
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Improving Pedestrian and Motorist Safety Along Light Rail Alignments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14327.
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Page 9
Page 10
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Improving Pedestrian and Motorist Safety Along Light Rail Alignments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14327.
×
Page 10
Page 11
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2009. Improving Pedestrian and Motorist Safety Along Light Rail Alignments. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/14327.
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Page 11

Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

8Research Problem Statement Many major metropolitan regions in North America are currently planning, constructing, or already have LRT systems. Although these systems have excellent overall safety records, collisions do occur, and public perception often runs counter to the statistics. TCRP has produced several reports dealing with pedestrian and motorist safety along LRT alignments. The reports include TCRP Report 17: Integration of Light Rail Tran- sit into City Streets; TCRP Report 69: Light Rail Service: Pedes- trian and Vehicular Safety; and TCRP Research Results Digest 51: Second Train Coming Warning Sign: Demonstration Projects. In addition, TCRP has a number of ongoing safety related studies. These include TCRP Projects D-9, “Transit Vehicles and Facilities on Streets and Highways,” and D-10, “Audi- ble Signals for Pedestrian Safety in Light Rail Transit Envi- ronments.” TCRP Reports 17 and 69 led to the development of Chapter 10 of the MUTCD. Chapter 10 is intended as a reference for LRT designers and operators. These research efforts, and others, looked at a number of systems, identified safety measures, and proposed safety enhancements, but they did not include a systematic approach for evaluating existing safety improvement measures. New safety issues have emerged, or are likely to emerge, and these issues also need to be evaluated. A review of the effectiveness of the safety measures identified in the previous research based on actual experience could provide before-and-after examples that affirm or disprove the safety benefits of the rec- ommendations made. However, the complete data required to conduct definitive studies of the effectiveness of LRT safety measures are not readily available. In addition, it is currently very difficult to assemble com- plete and meaningful safety data in a time-efficient manner. Safety studies conducted by individual transit agencies have usually been local and ad-hoc, and often not coordinated or conducted according to consistent procedures. The results are not available to researchers in a centralized repository. To facilitate the compilation of safety data, guidelines are needed to enable transit agencies to report comparable safety data in a consistent and comprehensive fashion that will support research and help to improve LRT safety. Research Objectives The TCRP established three objectives in the Research Proj- ect Statement. These objectives are addressed in this report in the chapters identified in brackets. The objectives are: • To develop a framework or template for collecting data to be used to improve pedestrian and motorist safety along LRT alignments [Chapter 7], • To identify and summarize pedestrian and motorist behav- iors [Chapter 2, Chapter 3], and • To document best practices for improving pedestrian and motorist safety along light rail transit alignments [Chapter 2, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6]. The activities of this project were organized in two Phases, and framed by 12 Tasks defined by the TCRP. The original Phases and Tasks are reproduced below. The chapters that address the tasks are included in brackets. Some tasks are ad- dressed briefly in the text followed by more in-depth analysis or results in the appendices. Phase I Task 1 Collect, review, and summarize published and unpub- lished information from U.S. and foreign LRT systems rel- evant to safety measures, devices, and practices on LRT alignments including at-grade crossings and stations that will enhance safety for pedestrians, motor vehicles, and LRT passengers [Chapter 2]. C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

9Task 2 Conduct a survey of U.S. LRT agencies to gather informa- tion on the type of data that is collected after an LRT collision. This effort should include, but not be limited to, a description of the type of collision data provided to the state safety over- sight agency, as well as the collision information provided to FTA and other regulatory agencies [Chapter 2, Chapter 3]. Task 3 Collect and review collision data for the past 10 years from North American LRT systems, including root cause and con- tributing factors. Information should be gathered from pub- lished and unpublished data reports as available from transit agencies and industry professionals [Chapter 3]. Task 4 Conduct a survey of LRT systems in North America to iden- tify innovative control devices, applications, and unique oper- ating environments and practices related to light rail safety that have been implemented, including enforcement and educa- tional practices. Collect information on the effectiveness of each application and operational practice including before-and-after studies or other analyses that may have been conducted. In ad- dition, identify applications or practices that have been discon- tinued after their initial application, and the reasons for their discontinuation [Chapter 2, Chapter 5]. Task 5 Based on the survey conducted in Task 4, identify elements from Chapter 10 of the MUTCD that have been adopted by the LRT systems. Of those elements that have been adopted, describe the LRT system results of their implementation. Of those elements of the MUTCD that have not been adopted, explain why not [Chapter 5]. Task 6 Identify new technologies (e.g., variable message signs, GPS, audible devices, train control systems, and in-pavement light- ing) that may have an effect on light rail safety applications [Chapter 2, Chapter 5]. Task 7 Using information gathered in Tasks 1 through 6, produce a detailed Phase II work plan to assess the effectiveness of existing and innovative devices and practices of LRT systems, including at-grade crossings and stations. The work plan should: • Identify the devices or practices to be evaluated; • Describe the methodology to be used; • List possible factors contributing to LRT safety, such as align- ment type, engineering design, light rail vehicles characteris- tics, type of control devices, and operating environment; and • Include focus groups or other means of testing to identify pedestrian and driver attitudes as they approach an LRT alignment. Task 8 Submit an interim report that summarizes the findings of Tasks 1 through 7. Phase II Task 9 Assess the effectiveness of existing and innovative devices and practices of LRT systems, including at-grade crossings and stations, using the approved Phase II work plan [Chapter 5]. Task 10 Develop a methodology to perform risk analysis for safety measures at LRT alignments [Chapter 6]. Task 11 Using the information gathered in Task 3 and the results of Task 9, develop recommendations to facilitate the compila- tion of collision data in a coordinated and consistent manner across LRT systems in the United States. The data should allow for a meaningful comparison of collision rates across trans- portation modes as well as for a more rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of safety measures, devices, and practices that could be implemented on LRT alignments. The recommen- dations should indicate the type of collision data that should be collected by the LRT agency and describe the best format for delivery to regulatory agencies [Chapter 7]. Task 12 Submit a final report that documents the entire research ef- fort. Develop guidelines that: • Identify successful elements and new technologies used to improve light rail safety [Chapter 5], • Assess the effectiveness of existing and innovative devices and practices used to improve LRT safety [Chapter 5], • Describe possible factors (including pedestrian and mo- torist behavior) contributing to LRT safety [Chapter 3, Chapter 4],

10 • Describe a methodology to perform a risk analysis for safety measures at LRT alignments [Chapter 6], and • Recommend ways to facilitate the compilation of collision data in a coordinated and consistent manner across LRT systems [Chapter 7]. Research Issues LRT is becoming an increasingly important mode of trans- portation for residents of major metropolitan regions of the United States and Canada. While streetcars have been in use in a number of cities for many decades, the concept and operation of the modern LRT is quite new in many locations. The operating characteristics of the LRV and the common practice of keeping LRT operations in close proximity to con- ventional street activities of motor vehicles and pedestrians introduces a new set of safety issues to the urban environ- ment. As more urban areas choose to invest in LRT, it is increasingly important to understand the resulting safety challenges and the mitigation measures available to maintain and improve safety along LRT alignments. There are several key issues. These include identifying the safety problems that may be present in a certain setting, select- ing corrective measure(s) that should be implemented to improve safety in specific settings, and assessing their likely safety benefits in a meaningful way. Improved collision data that are assembled in a consistent format and linked directly to the physical and operating circumstances of the LRT are essential for conducting valid LRT safety studies. Research Approach The work was undertaken by iTRANS Consulting with support from Herbert Levinson and TRA Inc. under the guidance of a TCRP panel. Various activities were required to fulfill the project and task objectives, and some of the origi- nal project tasks overlapped. In Phase I, the team undertook the following activities: • Literature review of LRT safety issues, safety measures, devices, practices, and new technologies relevant to LRT alignments [Tasks 1, 6]. • Survey of North American LRT agencies [Tasks 2, 4, 5, 6]. • Initial assembly and analysis of basic LRT crash data from federal, state, and local transit agencies. Note that, for a number of reasons, data were difficult to obtain at this stage. The reasons will be described later in the report [Task 3]. It should be noted that the words “accident,” “collision,” and “crash” are often used interchangeably in the literature and elsewhere to refer to a traffic incident that involves at least one vehicle impacting with another road user or object, usually resulting in injury or property damage. In recent years, the trend in the traffic safety field has been to favor “crash” and avoid “accident” as “accident” implies an event that cannot be prevented. It remains a common practice, however, to use the term “accident” in much of the litera- ture and also in the industry, so the term “accident” some- times appears in this report. • Summary of all information gathered, and preparation of the Phase 2 work plan [Tasks 7, 8]. Using the results of Phase I and the guidance of the panel, the project team designed a revised approach to Phase II. The second phase focused on preparing a final report that would successfully meet the project objectives. Phase II included the following activities: • Consultation with representatives of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), State Safety Oversight (SSO) agen- cies, and local LRT operating agencies. Follow-up re- quests for data at the agency, state, and national levels [Tasks 3, 9, 11]. • Site visits to selected LRT agencies. The site visits included system observation and stakeholder consultation. The vis- its allowed for the collection of further information about data collection, collision records, the use of the MUTCD, and LRT safety issues. The visits provided valuable oppor- tunities for detailed discussion of the effectiveness of treat- ments, risk assessment, data gathering, and data processing [Tasks 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11]. • Further review of LRT safety data, including compilation and analysis of newly available data; review of data collec- tion and storage procedures; and development of recom- mendations concerning data collection and processing [Tasks 3, 9, 11]. • Assembly of profiles for various LRT-related safety treat- ments [Tasks 9, 12]. • Development of a risk assessment methodology [Tasks 10, 12]. Structure of Final Report The final report is organized into seven chapters. The chapters summarize the findings of the activities described above, and provide recommendations for transit agencies, SSOs, the FTA, the NTD, and other groups involved in LRT safety. A large amount of supporting technical and detailed information is included in the appendices. The seven chapters are: • This chapter, the Introduction. • Chapter 2, State of the Practice Methodology and Sum- mary, which provides an overview of the present state of the practice concerning LRT safety, focusing on the system as a

whole. The content is based largely on information gathered during the literature review, agency survey, and site visits. The complete literature review, which describes the state of knowl- edge and current practice as published in the available litera- ture, is included in Appendix B. The complete summary of the survey results is included in Appendix C. A series of tech- nical memoranda that provide summaries of the activities and findings of the site visits carried out for this project are assembled in Appendix D. • Chapter 3, LRT Safety Data Available from Local Transit Agencies, SSOs, and the NTD: A major component of the initial tasks and project objectives was to gather and analyze existing LRT collision data. Chapter 3 discusses transit safety data from three sources: the transit agencies, the SSOs, and the NTD. The chapter outlines some of the inconsistencies in the data and some of the challenges that arise when using transit data for statistical analysis. Chapter 3 also presents the main system-wide findings obtained from an analysis of the available data. • Chapter 4, Safety Issues and their Treatment, which provides an introduction to the concepts of root causes and contribut- ing factors, and discusses how these concepts are applied to LRT safety. The chapter continues with an overview of the types of safety issues that are reported in the literature and by LRT agencies. This overview is followed by a summary of four strategies that are key to organizing and implement- ing LRT safety measures. The strategies were developed from the work undertaken for this project and the obser- vations made by the project team. • Chapter 5, LRT Catalog of Safety Treatments, which intro- duces the broad set of LRT safety treatments that are ad- dressed in detail in Appendix A in catalog format. The catalog includes pictures and information about the treatment, impacts of the safety treatment, and examples from agencies that have installed the treatment. The cata- log also comments on the use of the MUTCD for LRT applications. • Chapter 6, LRT Risk Analysis Methodology, which re- views the concept of risk assessment, and presents a checklist for assessing risk through safety audits on LRT alignments. • Chapter 7, Improving the Crash Data Collection Process, which provides an overview of how LRT crash data are cur- rently collected, and recommends a standardized process for gathering, storing, and sharing LRT crash data. The rec- ommended approach is intended to better support the analysis of safety trends and the analysis of effects of safety treatments in the future. 11

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TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) Report 137: Improving Pedestrian and Motorist Safety Along Light Rail Alignments examines pedestrian and motorist behaviors contributing to light rail transit (LRT) safety and explores mitigating measures available designed to improve safety along LRT alignments. The report also includes suggestions to facilitate the compilation of accident data in a coordinated and homogeneous manner across LRT systems. Finally, the report provides a catalog of existing and innovative safety devices, safety treatments, and practices along LRT alignments. Appendices B through E of TCRP Report 137 were published as TCRP Web-Only Document 42.

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