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Roads knit people, communities and markets together. They are the lifeblood of cities and states—but they are also deadly. The current rates of road fatalities and trauma are of epidemic proportions, and have disastrous consequences for affected families, communities and society at large.

In addition to the issue of transport-related deaths and serious injuries, transportation professionals are also faced with the pressures of increasing urbanisation. This outcome of this unprecedented level of urbanisation is that city transportation—and the space it takes up—will have to do more, with less.

To meet this challenge, the focus of transport planning and investment is rapidly shifting away from car-oriented solutions to mobility and transit-oriented solutions.  The role of streets themselves are similarly changing—from a focus on increasing roadway capacity to improving multi-modal road-user experience for everyone.

However, with this change comes new road safety challenges. City streets are being re-purposed and redesigned as dynamic, multi-modal corridors.  These may include mass transit systems, such as Bus Rapid Transit and light rail/tram systems, an increasing array of individual ride and bike share vehicles, bicycle- infrastructure and pedestrian facilities. They may also provide access subway and heavy rail systems and regular bus services, as well as private and commercial vehicles.

While the introduction of more modes may make streets more efficient by moving more people, it may increase the risk, both in terms of added exposure (i.e. more people) and potential conflicts between modes.

How this challenge is currently being addressed can be divided into two main approaches. The first is through better multi-modal design for streets which is happening gradually through progressive street design programs such as NATCO’s Global Street Design Guide and other efforts.

The second is related to the continued need to measure and address risk for road user groups, which is the focus of research-driven tools such as the iRAP Star Rating.

However, a commonly overlooked challenge is that, as cities move toward integrated transport systems, a person’s journey typically uses more than one mode over a single trip door-to-door. For example—with very few exceptions—a typical transit journey involves a minimum of three parts: from origin to the transit service, the transit trip itself, and the transit service stop to the end destination. The secondary mode of transport from the point of origin to the transit service (primary mode) and from the service to the end destination in inner urban areas is commonly walking or bicycling or for suburban or peri-urban areas, motorcycle or vehicle (via park-and-ride or drop-offs).  The risks associated with secondary modes are often well documented, particularly for more traditional multi-modal journey patterns, such as school transportation.

There is therefore a need for measuring the cumulative risks for multi-modal journeys door-to-door. This approach would recognise that in a single journey, a person’s road user type changes along, with their chosen mode, several times and would distribute that risk across the journey.

This research is to develop a Door 2 Door Star Rating methodology for multi-modal journeys, seeks to address all of these issues.  Firstly, by recouping low risk and high risk journey segments into a single journey risk score, users will have a much better understanding of the overall risk for their journey. Second, the safety risks of transit users will be better understood and able to be addressed, as it relates to the transit’s level-of-service.  Third, the tool would fill a need currently unavailable in multi-modal journey modelling, which could support better business planning of transit systems, thus maximising the efficiency of—and investment in—these systems. Ultimately, it lead to improved funding models and governance of city transit systems and reduce the silos between road and transit authorities.


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The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) is a Registered Charity with UN ECOSOC Consultative Status.
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