View Samples
View Samples

Vulnerable Road Users: Mapping Our Way to Safer Communities

Learn how advanced transportation feature data and geospatial analysis are being leveraged by planners to enhance pedestrian safety for Vulnerable Road Users.

ICYMI - on September 14th, 2023 Ecopia's Troy Simpson, AICP hosted a compelling session about transportation equity and Vulnerable Road Users. This deep dive webinar explored how a single, comprehensive transportation network dataset can be used to analyze conditions for a multitude of Vulnerable Road User types, empowering planners to maximize public investments for a safer and more inclusive transportation system for all. 

Keep reading to learn more about this can’t-miss session for transportation planners, civil engineers, and other geospatial professionals improving pedestrian safety in US communities, and check out the recording.

Transportation safety & the role of geospatial data

The last decade has been marked by a troubling increase in the number and rate of pedestrian fatalities in the US. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 7,388 pedestrian fatalities on US roads in 2021, the highest number observed in 40 years. That figure comes to a death rate of 2.2 per 100,000 people, the highest observed in 30 years. 

While some attribute these figures to increased pedestrian activity and vehicle speed during the COVID-19 pandemic, this is not an experience shared globally. Only three OECD member countries reported increased pedestrian death rates in 2020 following initial pandemic lockdowns: Ireland, Switzerland, and the United States. 

This is not the first time in history that nations have seen a significant increase in pedestrian deaths. Rapidly increasing rates of automobile ownership coupled with inadequate infrastructure controls in the industrial era US led to the First National Conference on Street and Highway Safety in 1924

The November 23, 1924, cover of the New York Times
The November 23, 1924, cover of the New York Times

The potential infrastructure solutions laid out by this initial work would still be familiar to modern transportation planners, including pedestrian refuge islands, uniform signage, as well as separation of conflicting traffic speeds and purposes, among others. At that time, pedestrians dominated the national share of travel modes and were a prime focus of safety analysis, a focus which shifted toward drivers in the following decades. 

The lasting impact in the age of geospatial data has been a proliferation of federal and navigational map data and standards tailored to comparative analysis of motorized transportation. By contrast, the nation’s sidewalks and bike lanes have been recorded haphazardly and, more often than not, voluntarily. In response to increasing death rates, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides a definition for these Vulnerable Road Users and an opportunity to close the data equity gap they face. 

Significant growth has occurred in the last decade in location-based data services supporting analysis of pedestrian movement, though basic geospatial data coverage on pedestrian networks and the environment still lags. 

Tune in to Vulnerable Road Users: Mapping Our Way to Safer Communities

January 2023 OpenStreetMap bicycle and pedestrian network data (left) and Ecopia extracted network displayed by width (right) in Baltimore, Maryland
January 2023 OpenStreetMap bicycle and pedestrian network data (left) and Ecopia extracted network displayed by width (right) in Baltimore, Maryland

Ecopia is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and high-resolution geospatial imagery to close this gap in a big way, having created the first full pedestrian network inventories for over 25 metropolitan regions across the US, including Chicago, San Francisco, and Baltimore. Check out the recording of our free webinar from September 14, 2023 at 11am EDT to see this data in action and learn how to leverage IIJA funding to enhance pedestrian safety in your community.

About the host

Troy Simpson, Associate, Public Sector
Troy Simpson is an urban planner with experience managing federal programs and performance measures for surface transportation, serving to further Ecopia’s impact in the space. He began his career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied GIS in conjunction with Urban and Regional Planning. While working for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, he leveraged prior experience with travel models and GIS workflows to develop objective ranking criteria to reduce political influence in project selection as well as high quality active transportation infrastructure data to ensure consideration and improvement for all modes. Troy enjoys living in the Great Lakes region and can be found exploring them by bicycle, even in the winter.

Learn more about Ecopia's transportation planning solutions

Ready to get started?

If you're ready to leverage groundbreaking advancements in artificial intelligence, let's chat.

Let's talk