2018 - Research

Accessibility evaluations for nighttime walking and bicycling for low-income shift workers

Key takeaway:

  • This research fills a gap in transportation research by developing a methodology to guide practitioners and planners in evaluating the nighttime accessibility of transit stops and areas around transit stops for pedestrian and bicyclists.

Results:

  • The authors develop two simple scores: nighttime accessibility score for walking (NASW) and nighttime accessibility score for bicycling (NASB) to evaluate nighttime infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists in order to help improve walking and bicycling infrastructure for people commuting at night, particularly low-income shift workers.
  • While sidewalks and transit stops are fairly well distributed across El Paso, bicycle lanes are not as evenly distributed. There are 1,000 miles of sidewalks in El Paso but only 500 miles of bicycle lanes, which indicates inadequate bicycling infrastructure.
  • The burden is higher for nighttime commuters who travel via bicycle to/from low-income shift work because they do not own a car and/or public transport does not service their journey. There may be poor street lighting and visibility along bicycle lanes, more vehicular traffic, and fewer people walking or cycling around, which can make nighttime cycling commutes more dangerous.
  • Low or poor nighttime accessibility (by walking or bicycling) is characterized by a lack of sidewalks or bicycle lanes connecting employment to transit stops.
  • To fine-tune NASW, factors associated with quality of sidewalk network (i.e., driveway crossings, cross slopes, level irregularities, clearance widths, and protruding objects) should be incorporated.
  • To fine-tune NASB, bike lane and curb lane widths should be included.
  • The accuracy of both NASW and NASB could be improved by incorporating waiting time at transit stops at night.

 

Methods:

  • The authors evaluated nighttime walking and bicycling accessibility of shift workers in the retail trade, accommodation and food services, and health care and social assistance industry sectors in El Paso, Texas via data analysis and mapping. They gathered and analyzed three types of data: (1) employment data for low-income households, (2) transportation network data for sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and bus transit stops, and (3) locations and distribution of streetlight poles along sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

 

Chandra, S., Jimenez, J., and Radhakrishnan, R. (2017). Accessibility evaluations for nighttime walking and bicycling for low-income shift workers. Journal of Transport Geography, 64.