*Public works defends traffic-control work to committee *
WINNIPEG’S public works department responded publicly for the first time
Thursday to allegations of financial mismanagement within the traffic
signals branch at a special meeting of the city’s finance committee.
Chairman Scott Gillingham (St. James) called the session in response to the
recent Free Press investigative series Red Light, Green Light, No
Oversight, based on the findings of independent traffic researcher
Public works director Jim Berezowsky disputed allegations his department
has engaged in widespread patterns of financial mismanagement and wasteful
construction practices dating back more than a decade.
“We believe there is an explanation for each and every Google picture,”
Berezowsky said, referring to Sweryda’s research, the result of hundreds of
hours spent analyzing Google Street View images and cataloguing changes to
traffic infrastructure in Winnipeg.
Berezowsky said he stands with department staff and is proud of the work
they do, expressing displeasure the matter was aired publicly by the media
and councillors before city staff had an opportunity to respond.
The Free Press reviewed Sweryda’s research and shared it with several
experts in the field. The newspaper repeatedly offered to walk city staff
through Sweryda’s research if Berezowsky and David Patman, manager of
transportation, were made available for interviews.
Those requests were declined.
Sweryda — who has been studying traffic-related issues in the city since
2009 — delivered a summary of the information he provided to councillors
When he was done, Couns. Janice Lukes (Waverly West) and Kevin Klein
(Charleswood-Tuxedo) suggested there are good people doing good work in the
public service but there are systemic issues with administrative turnover
Engineer Roger Petursson explained the department’s justification for
changes made to traffic-control infrastructure at a handful of the
intersections Sweryda highlighted and discussed the impact road renewals
can have on the lifespan of traffic-control equipment.
Berezowsky defended the department’s record-keeping practices, and said
design drawings and work orders will justify changes to traffic-control
infrastructure in the council-ordered investigation conducted by city
auditor Bryan Mansky.
Public works chairman Matt Allard called for an audit after the Free Press
series was published.
After the meeting, Coun. Sherri Rollins (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) said
it felt, at times, like a “kangaroo court,” but she was happy public works
staff had been able to respond to the allegations and “speak truth to
Jason Schreyer (Elmwood-East Kildonan) and John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort
Garry) are the other members of the committee.
ryan.thorpe(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @rk_thorpe
Health reporter Andre Picard wrote an excellent opinion piece in todays
Globe and Mail;
How the pandemic spurred more traffic violence
The COVID-19 pandemic has, in addition to the obvious ravages caused by the
novel coronavirus, affected public health in many unexpected ways.
One of the most concerning consequences has been a sharp increase in traffic
violence, from pedestrian deaths to motor vehicle crashes and road rage.
When the first lockdowns began, most commuters stayed home. In cities across
North America, large swaths of streets were closed to traffic to make way
for an influx of pedestrians practising physical distancing. Bicycle sales
soared as people embraced the quiet streets.
There were bold predictions that traffic deaths, which were already far too
high, would fall sharply. Some urbanists dreamed aloud that we would finally
start rethinking the design of our car-centric towns and cities.
But, after a brief respite, something strange happened. Beginning in the
summer of 2020, traffic deaths soared. That trend continued through 2021 and
shows no signs of slowing down as the return to normalcy continues.
The United States recorded
est> 42,060 road deaths in 2020, up sharply from
<https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/overview/introduction/> 39,107 in
2019, according to the U.S. National Safety Council.
The number of pedestrian deaths
202019> climbed to 6,721 in 2020, up from 6,412 in 2019, according to the
Governors Highway Safety Association. While thats a modest increase, when
you consider that the miles travelled were down sharply (by 13 per cent),
that translates into a 21-per-cent increase based on vehicle miles
travelled, a commonly used metric.
In addition, the GHSA only catalogues deaths on major roadways. A
significant number of pedestrians are also killed in parking lots, driveways
and such about 1,500 annually.
As with COVID-19, the burden of traffic violence falls disproportionately on
low-income residents and elders. They are more likely to walk, and have a
greater dependence on decent pedestrian infrastructure.
The economic cost of traffic violence is around
ntatives-commi> US$463-billion annually, again according to the National
Safety Council. That includes property damage, medical costs, and wage and
Those are U.S. numbers. The trend is a bit different in Canada. In 2020,
fatalities were down one per cent to 1,745; serious injuries down 12 per
cent to 7,868 and; personal injuries down 28 per cent to 101,572.
However, Canadians cut back on travel far more than Americans, so the
numbers are all up based on kilometres travelled. And its not clear what
happened in 2021 when restrictions loosened.
But there is good anecdotal evidence that the trend toward more death and
destruction on roads is occurring here, too. The consumer group Piétons
Québec, for example, says that a decade of gains in pedestrian safety was
wiped out during the pandemic.
So, whats going on?
The short answer is that quieter roads have not made for safer roads; the
result of open roads has been more speeding and reckless driving.
Three factors account for the majority of fatal motor vehicle crashes:
speeding, impaired driving and a lack of seat belts. But underlying those
human factors is the reality that cars (and trucks and SUVs) are designed to
go fast and make cocooned drivers feel impervious to risks. Roads, too, are
designed for speed, not safety.
During the pandemic, there has been less enforcement of traffic rules (not
that there was much before) as police were urged to minimize unnecessary
Who has not noticed a growing tendency of vehicles to blow through red
lights and stop signs? Road racing seems to have become a popular pastime.
Crossing streets has increasingly become a contact sport for pedestrians and
During COVID-19, alcohol consumption
-covid-19-whys-it-so-hard-to-learn-the/> skyrocketed, and so did
There is also a lot of pandemic anxiety and frustration, and in many
instances weve seen that translate into COVID rage not just on the roads,
but in restaurants, on airplanes and during many other public interactions.
Its all part of a larger problem of fraying social norms and an embrace of
And what better symbol than a big, hoarking truck? The anonymity afforded by
sitting in a large metal box (often with tinted windows) is similar to the
anonymity afforded by social media platforms.
Violence is up sharply in these pandemic times, from
murders, to random attacks, to the gurgling anger in cyberspace. Traffic
violence is part of that disturbing trend.
We have vehicles increasingly used as tools for disruption, from truck
convoys to overt violence. A
rotesters/map/> Boston Globe analysis found at least 139 incidents of cars
driving into demonstrators between May, 2020, and September, 2021.
There is much to be done to counter these problems. But it begins with
taking vehicle violence seriously as a public health issue.
We need to stop blindly worshipping at the altar of the car, and get back to
the instincts we had early in the pandemic to make streets more accessible,
more pleasant and safer.
Its well past time to return urban streets to people, to build a foundation
for healthy, green, liveable cities.
11 Harvard Ave
Winnipeg R3M 0J6
Committee takes step towards citywide crosswalk upgrades
EYE-level lights intended to improve safety at pedestrian crosswalks by
better catching the eye of drivers could soon be installed across Winnipeg.
A new motion calls for the city to ensure low-mounted, eye-level safety
lights are installed at all lighted pedestrian crosswalks “as soon as
It was approved Tuesday by the public works committee but requires a final
“We know these work, we know they’re cost-effective, we know they’re
installed after people die (at crosswalks),” said Coun. Matt Allard, public
works chairman, who raised the motion.
“There’s a blind spot where if you’re too close to a crosswalk, you may not see
the lights, so therein lies the problem… I think it’s not a matter of if,
it’s a matter of when there’s going to be another collision — another
person injured or another fatality.”
The motion follows a recent Free Press series, which noted a traffic-safety
activist has lobbied the city to add more of the eye-level lights for more
than a decade. Christian Sweryda argues overhead lights are more difficult
to see for drivers whose vehicles are close to an intersection, while
eye-level ones are more visible.
While the City of Winnipeg has tested the idea through a past pilot
project, Allard’s motion notes just 25 low-mounted lights have been
installed permanently at crosswalks to date.
He said 158 locations are still awaiting funding to add the lights, while
$145,000 was approved in the 2022 budget to convert 15 more. Allard is
pushing for council to increase that amount to $1.6 million to complete all
of the installations.
The motion also calls for sites to get new crosswalks where city engineers
have deemed they’re warranted. The public works projects could be funded
from the street renewal budget, unspent construction funds and/or reserves.
Jim Berezowsky, Winnipeg public works director, said a clear funding source
is critical to ensure expediting the light installation doesn’t force the
city to postpone other important projects.
“If we’re talking about every single crossing in a specific year… What
then have to fall by the wayside that are just as (important) safety-wise
for all of the citizens of this city?” said Berezowsky.
Allard’s motion does not set a specific deadline to get the work done.
It also calls for all new installations of lighted pedestrian crosswalks
with overhead lights to include an additional low-mounted light.
A past city report found the eye-level lights improve safety by increasing
“yield compliance” among drivers.
Allard said the city has added the low-mounted lights at crosswalks after
fatal collisions involving children occurred in the past. He deems his
current motion a major safety priority.
“I think it’s incumbent on us to get these installed because we know
a cost-effective way to improve safety,” said Allard.
The Free Press series noted six crashes occurred at crosswalks with
overhead lighting over a 19-month span from February 2018 to September
2019, which caused four deaths.
That included crashes at crosswalks that killed two children.
In 2019, four-year-old Galila Habtegerish was killed at the pedestrian
corridor on Isabel Street at Ross Avenue. In 2018, eight-year-old Surafiel
Musse Tesfamariam was killed at the pedestrian corridor on St. Anne’s Road
at Varennes Avenue while on his way to school.
joyanne.pursaga(a)freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga
Deeply entrenched practices must be re-examined
AMONG the most oft-repeated rationales for the manner in which public
service-related standards and practices remain stubbornly entrenched are
variations on the following bureaucratic bromide: “We do it this way
because we’ve always done it this way.”
It’s a standard-issue, accountability-dodging cop-out. It’s also
infuriating. And, as a recent Free Press investigative series on Winnipeg’s
traffic-regulation infrastructure has suggested, on occasion it might even
The week-long series titled “Red Light, Green Light, No Oversight” flagged
numerous failures of decision-making and policy formulation within the
traffic division. Based on the voluminous data compiled by independent
researcher Christian Sweryda, the series raised serious questions about the
city’s failure to take seriously the concerns raised by Mr. Sweryda about
processes and equipment whose sole purpose is — or, at least, should be —
keeping Winnipeggers safe when they venture onto or near the city’s
The series examined several shortcomings uncovered by Mr. Sweryda’s
exceedingly thorough research — some have described it as obsessive — in
traffic-division operations, ranging from repeated and seemingly
unnecessary replacement and repositioning of traffic light poles and
to replace missing speed-limit and schoolzone signs, to the persistent use
of inadequate amber-light times at intersections and the chronic
reluctance, despite numerous pleas and warnings, to install
pedestrian-corridor warning lights at eye level rather than high overhead.
Some of the highlighted issues relate to unnecessary work and expenditures
that cost taxpayers untold millions; others expose safety concerns that,
according to Mr. Sweryda’s research, can be linked to fatalities that might
have been prevented by a simple, practical, relatively low-cost solution.
After reviewing the materials that were the basis for the series, lawyer
Kevin Gillese, who specializes in anti-corruption, called the information
“extremely disturbing” and added “they suggest a pattern of either
incompetence or corruption, or perhaps both.”
The Free Press offered to walk the city’s senior managers through the data
if those officials were made available for an interview. The offer was
Such reluctance to confront Mr. Sweryda’s reams of data and related
information suggests a general satisfaction with the manner in which the
traffic division continues to operate. So, too, does a statement from the
city in response to the traffic light-relocation aspect of the series,
which states the city’s traffic engineers “recommend solutions and make
decisions… with diligence, care, and consideration of both best practices
and the context of the location where they are to be applied.”
There are, however, too many unanswered questions that render the “best
practices” defence unsatisfactory. More, and more complete, answers are due
the citizens of Winnipeg.
The series did prompt some elected officials — councillors Matt Allard (St.
Boniface), Shawn Nason (Transcona) and Scott Gillingham (St. James), chair
of the city’s finance committee — to call for a full external audit and/or
a public hearing related to the public-works department and the revelations
in Mr. Sweryda’s findings.
That’s a good place to start. Winnipeggers have the right to expect their
tax dollars are being spent wisely and, more importantly, that the roads on
which they drive, cycle and walk are not deadly dangerous. The city must
justify its spending and planning, as well as its failure, reluctance or
refusal to amend its practices when confronted with clear evidence of
Rather than “because we’ve always done it this way,” the officials in
charge might be inclined to adopt the observation of Carleton University
transportation-engineering professor Yasser Hassan after viewing the
significant shortcomings uncovered in the series: “If there is no
documentation, there is no defence.”
Rising fuel costs reinflate cycling interests
AS gasoline prices rise with no signs of stopping, Winnipeg bike shops are
gearing up to take on new customers.
Jeff Nespiak sells used bikes and offers repair services at Southside Cycle
Works in South St. Vital. The industry — already in high demand since the
start of the pandemic— will likely see a renewed surge in interest should
fuel get even more expensive, he said.
“I think that it’s probably going to drive up the cost on what will be
available, but I think that there will definitely be a larger shortage this
year,” Nespiak told the Free Press Friday.
“That’s what I’m predicting, especially with gas (prices) across the
country… I think it’s just going to continuously drive up the market, and I
think a lot more people are going to turn to (bikes) for transportation.”
If it does, it won’t be the first time in recent years. Like most local
industry retailers and service providers, Nespiak has had trouble keeping
bikes and parts in stock since the start of the pandemic, as Winnipeggers
looking for safe, socially distant outdoor activities took to bike trails
“I found that people were actually digging out, say, if they had an old
mountain bike sitting in their backyard for the last 20 years and it’s got
weeds and grass growing through the wheels… They were actually taking it
out and having it fixed just because they couldn’t find anything decent for
sale,” he said.
Such demand will likely present itself in the commuter bike market, Nespiak
said, and lightweight bikes with more gears will become tougher to find.
At Woodcock Cycle Works on St. Mary’s Road, those lightweight commuter
bikes can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $1,000.
It’s a price many are willing to pay for the right high-end-but-everyday
bike, general manager Jon Carson said, adding the long-running business is
hoping a silver lining for gas costs is it gets more people thinking of
“I certainly am emphasizing more riding, personally, because the prices of
gasoline are pretty outrageous,” Carson said. “We’re hoping that it will be
just another incentive in this sort of bike boom we’ve experienced and,
hopefully, another reason to see it keep going.”
Recent demand hasn’t reached the fervour of peakmonths in 2020-21, but
Carson said it appears more people are buying bikes during this off-season
than nearly any other year.
Woodcock has been pre-selling bikes set to come in from distributors around
Europe and Asia, and supply chain issues that began with the pandemic and have
yet to return to normal are still affecting supply.
“It’s pretty amazing how fast (bike) orders fill, and how quickly our stock
allocates… There’s still delays. I don’t think it’ll be fixed anytime soon,
it’s a big chain of things that have been affected,” Carson said. The
situation is similar at Olympia Cycle & Ski, co-owner Robb Massey said.
“We’ve got certain bikes that were ordered 20 months ago that still haven’t
arrived, so that continues to be a problem,” he said.
“I mean, right now, our supply is really good. But as soon as we have that
first nice day in spring, we’re going to have lineups again and we’re going
to have disappointed people.”
Massey said he’s concerned that if there is a boom in interest in cycling
in tandem with gas costs, new cyclists will spend hundreds of dollars on
mass-produced big-box store bikes not designed to last and become
discouraged from the practice.
He hopes people deciding to hop on a bike for the first time pursue the
programming and support services available at the local level.
“The price of gas might be $5 a litre, and people still aren’t going to
ride their bikes because they just don’t feel comfortable on the roads… To
me, it’s bigger than the pain point of watching the price of gas go up,”
“Because we’re going to get used to it, and then we’re going to go back to
unhealthy habits unless you’ve got help and support to (not) do that.”
Navigating city sidewalks is unsafe, almost impossible, for people with
ISOLATION during winter is a fact of life for many Winnipeggers.
This year, repeated heavy snowfalls have buried city sidewalks for weeks on
end, forcing people to trudge on narrow paths trampled by trailblazers or
climb over large windrows of snow and ice.
It’s a nuisance for most people, but city folk with mobility problems find
themselves in a huge bind.
In Manitoba. 234,190 people 15 and older have a disability, data from a
2017 survey shows. About 40 per cent of that group has mobility issues and
22.1 per cent are visually impaired.
Accessibility advocates raise the issue every winter, and little seems to
They hope during this winter, which has been especially troublesome, fellow
citizens and politicians try to understand how limited life can be when
faced with such hurdles.
Brian Thorkelson inched his foot forward through the mound of snow on the
sidewalk. Had he not lived there in the summer, he might not have known
there was a sidewalk. His guide dog hesitated.
“The dog is totally not confident in guiding, because he perceives the snow
mountains as obstacles and there’s no way to get around them,” said the
38-year-old who has total visual impairment.
The dog is trained to take the path of least resistance, but in snow
drifts, he gets confused, said the resident of Quail Ridge Road.
“He’s completely confused and disoriented… I’ve even had times where I’ve
had to pick my dog up, and he’s at least a good 75 pounds, to put him over
the drift,” he said.
Thorkelson said the dog’s ability to guide him could be affected. He hopes
the dog’s training will hold up until spring.
Taking a bus is a nightmare. Recently, a huge snowdrift blocked him from
the bus stop on Sturgeon Road. He wasn’t sure he was at the right place.
After about 20 minutes of trying to orient himself (his dog was unable to
solve the problem), he called a friend on a video chat to ask them to see
what he was dealing with.
“They said: ‘You’re at the sidewalk to walk to the stop, but it’s just
uncleared.’” Thorkelson had to carefully climb, with his dog, over the
This year, he said he’s fallen several times.
“It’s definitely a worry of mine that one time I’m going to fall and not be
able to get back up,” he said.
“If it’s anything below -15 C, I won’t go out. I’ll just stay home, just
because of that danger.”
Wheelchair users in Winnipeg know what it’s like to be stuck in a few
centimetres of snow. Peter Tonge said the tires of his wheelchairs, both
manual and motorized, spin as nothing happens. He’s had to depend on
strangers to help free him.
It’s no easy task pulling a person and their wheelchair from a snowy rut.
“Someone may come along and very genuinely want to help, but they’re not
physically capable of doing so,” said the Grant Avenue resident. “There’s
always that stress level of just getting yourself free.”
He feels that loss of freedom. “I no longer have spontaneous access to do
anything,” he said.
Every winter, and particularly this one, his freedom is limited by slush,
snow or ice.
“It’s not the big things in life, like I won’t be able to get to the
hospital,” he said. “It’s the little things, like being able to
spontaneously pop around and see a friend or run an errand…. If the
sidewalks were clean and clear, you could go: ‘Gee, it would be nice to
have some ice cream with our dessert,’ and you can buzz out and grab it.”
Instead, Tonge is forced to rely on Winnipeg Transit Plus for most of his
errands, which requires two days’ notice to book a ride. When waiting that
long isn’t an option, Tonge can book a wheelchair-accessible taxi — but
Last month, Tonge, who is the executive director of the Manitoba Wheelchair
Sport Association, booked private transit several times.
“I spent over $300 in the month of February,” Tonge said. “For a lot of
people that’s most of their income.”
In a 2017 survey, about 60 per cent of Canadians with disabilities aged 25
to 64 were employed, compared to 80.1 per cent of people without
disabilities. And as disabilities become more severe, the employment rate
drops. That means extra expenses, such as private transit, aren’t
Tonge has spent years advocating for more accessible sidewalks, among other
things. Yet, nothing ever seems to change, he said.
Tonge summed up his experience with a quote he’d once come across: “It
doesn’t matter what direction I turned, it felt like the wind was blowing
in my face.”
Debby McLeod hasn’t always used a wheelchair. For about 20 years, she spent
most days on her feet, rushing around Health Sciences Centre as a critical
equipment specialist. But on Nov. 12, 2020, McLeod’s left leg was amputated
below the knee due to a bone infection.
In these first three winters as wheelchair user, the isolation imposed on
her by snow and uncleared sidewalks has come as a shock.
“Actually, I’m quite surprised. When you’re able-bodied, these are things
you don’t think of,” she said.
Before the operation, McLeod never would have imagined being trapped in her
house, unable to get to work, for three weeks. But that’s what happened to
the downtown Portage Avenue resident in February.
“The sidewalks this year have been absolutely horrific. I understand that
we’ve had an awful lot of snowfall and the city is having a hard time
trying to keep up. But with so much snow on the sidewalks, it makes it
impossible to get anywhere,” she said.
For someone like McLeod, who describes herself as naturally independent,
it’s hurt her mental health.
“My inability to go into work very much affected me,” she said. Even just
the contact with people on the way to work is “like a breath of fresh air,”
People don’t understand how significant the loss of mobility, due to
uncleared paths, is for people in wheelchairs and with other mobility
issues, she said.
“They really don’t. And I was one of them. You can’t comprehend until you
are in the situation. You can understand, you can emphasize, but you
Stuck in a loop
Similar to Tonge, Rosalie Best advocates for more accessible sidewalks
“I’m getting a little tired of doing the same interview over and over
again,” said Best, a power wheelchair user who works remotely for an
accessibility consulting firm in Ontario. “It feels like every year, I’m
getting called, and I say the same things, and nothing changes.”
She talks about the impossibility of moving around town as desired; about
the increasing frustration; about looking out the window, seeing huge
drifts of snow and feeling the weight of isolation as she considers the
near-eternity (or so it feels) until they melt and allow her to live life
with some semblance of liberty.
“It’s very frustrating. And it makes winter extremely long,” she said.
She also talks about getting stuck in the snow, needing the help of
strangers to get free, and the anxiety of not being able to find someone —
something Tonge and McLeod mentioned as well.
The Spruce Street resident said when she does get out, which is rare, for a
doctor’s appointment or some other necessity, snow piles often block
loading zones or disabled parking spots, forcing her to park farther away
or in precarious locations. Then, again, there’s the sidewalk to deal with.
Best, Tonge and McLeod agree there is a lack of political will and public
awareness about how poor snow clearing makes their lives so difficult.
“Because people are so isolated, other people who are non-disabled, or
don’t have mobility issues, aren’t seeing people with disabilities out and
about,” she said.
If people with disabilities and mobility issues were more visible in the
community, perhaps the city and its able-bodied populace would better
understand the problem, she said.
“But because of the snow, or because of whatever kind of lack of
accessibility, it becomes this weird, never-ending loop.”
Despite advocates’ calls for a more accessible winter city, there is a
feeling conditions have worsened.
Atlantic Avenue resident Tanis Woodland, who is blind, doesn’t believe the
situation will improve.
“It’s slowly getting worse over the years, in terms of actually plowing the
sidewalks,” said Woodland.
She has had to climb over huge windrows to catch the bus. It’s even tough
to find the stop in mountains of snow on the sidewalk.
“It seems like it’s increasingly worse, seems like they’re cutting a lot of
our services,” said Suzanne Jakeman, who uses elbow crutches, co-owns
wheelchair-accessible taxi company Sunshine Transit Services.
Even though she has accessible transport at her disposal, just getting out
to the street or from a parking spot to her destination is a struggle this
“I’m not a billy goat,” She joked.
---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: TREC <asktrec(a)pdx.edu>
Date: Thu, Mar 3, 2022 at 3:01 PM
In recent years, shared electric scooters (e-scooters) have taken cities
around the world by storm. But how are people using this new mode of
transportation? Seeking to understand the potential impacts of e-scooters
on land use, infrastructure and sustainability goals, researchers have some
new interesting data to share on e-scooter users, exploring the interplay
between demographics, behaviors and trip purposes.
Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC)
and led by Kristina Currans
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Currans/4519> and Nicole
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Iroz-Elardo/11996> of the
University of Arizona and Reid Ewing
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Ewing/4149> of the
University of Utah, the study combines a user survey with on-the-ground
observations to characterize the use and safety of e-scooters. The research
team also included students Dong-ah Choi,
and Torrey Lyons <https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Lyons/9134> of
the University of Utah and Quinton Fitzpatrick
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/education/2019-2020-nitc-scholars> and Julian
the University of Arizona. The final report offers insights into what
drives the behaviors of people using e-scooters, as well as those walking,
biking and driving when e-scooters are present.
Join the research team on June 7, 2022
hear first-hand the results of their research at an upcoming free online
webinar hosted by NITC.
GATHERING DATA ON E-SCOOTER USERS
Along with a literature review and a review of existing agency regulations,
the researchers analyzed results from an online survey, administered
through the City of Tucson in the winter of 2019-2020 (prior to COVID-19
lockdowns later that spring). The online survey gathered information on
stated preferences (e.g. whether people reported riding on the sidewalk, or
at night) and whether e-scooters were substituted for other modes of
transportation. Additionally, they looked for information on how crash
experiences corresponded with demographics and riding behaviors.
Next came on-the-ground data collection. Researchers and students observed
people riding e-scooters in Tucson in January of 2020; this data collection
effort was soon curtailed by COVID-19 related lockdowns. In Salt Lake City,
the team conducted observations in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, once
e-scooter trips began rebounding. They examined how transportation
infrastructure— specifically bike lanes, the presence of light rail, and
the size of the facility—relates to observations of non-optimal behaviors
for different mode users (e-scooters, bicyclists, pedestrians, and
drivers), and those behaviors for e-scooter users included:
- riding on sidewalks,
- riding in vehicle travel lanes,
- violating traffic signals,
- distracted riding,
- riding without a helmet,
- having two or more passengers on one scooter, or
- leaving a scooter parked improperly (for example blocking the
Researchers also recorded the behavior of cyclists, pedestrians and
drivers. For more details on the observation protocols and the study sites,
see chapter four of the final report
HOW DOES INFRASTRUCTURE INFLUENCE TRAVEL BEHAVIOR?
For both e-scooters and bicycles, the type of infrastructure can affect how
people ride. Based on observations, a few patterns emerged:
- *When bike lanes were available*, e-scooter riders generally used the
- *When light rail tracks were present*, sidewalk riding happened at
similar rates with and without bike lanes.
- *On wider roads*, e-scooter and bicycle users both significantly
gravitated towards sidewalks.
Researchers chose their study sites in order to understand how
infrastructure related to behavior for different mode users. They collected
data at 5 different types of intersections in Salt Lake City:
Table 20 Select Site Characteristics .png
[image: Site 1: 4 way intersection with no bike lanes, no rail transit, and
medium-size road. Site 2: 4 way intersection with 4 way bike lanes, no rail
transit and a medium-size road. Site 3: 4 way intersection with no bike
lanes, with rail transit, and a medium]
The researchers presented a poster on this at TRB 2022: Effects of
Intersection Design on Non-Optimal Behaviors of E-Scooter and Other Users
While the presence of multimodal infrastructure does matter, inadequate
separation from larger automobile facilities may outweigh the use of
"appropriate" facilities in the decision making process. This suggests that
more optimal behaviors are likely to occur *not where permitted, but where
infrastructure provided is perceived to be safe.*
Demographics also play a role: In terms of crash experiences, older
respondents (40-60 years old) were much less likely to have experienced a
crash compared with younger riders (<30 years of age).
OTHER E-SCOOTING BEHAVIORS
With the advent of a new form of transportation, there are many different
behaviors to consider with regards to safety, how users might combine with
other modes, and how to end their trips on these micromobility devices.
Helmets are legally required for e-scooter riders. Not surprisingly
perhaps, the reported use of helmets in the survey (21% at least some of
the time and 13% while riding) far outweighs the researchers' observations
in Salt Lake City (2%) or Tucson (2%).
A substantial portion of e-scooter riding in Tucson appears to be
supporting more recreational travel. In fact, e-scooter trips appeared to
generate new restaurant activities. This finding is commensurate with other
research which indicates that active transportation travelers tend to spend
more money at convenience stores, drinking establishments and restaurants.
See two related NITC-funded studies: *Examining Consumer Behavior and
and *Understanding Economic and Business Impacts of Street Improvements
for Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility*
E-scooter trips that were substituting for transit travel were more
frequent for people with lower incomes or who were older than 30 years of
age, but especially for those older than 60 years of age.
Of the 292 total parked e-scooters observed in Tucson, 76% of all
e-scooters were well parked. 17% were improperly parked, and approximately
7% were questionably parked (meaning either there was ambiguity about the
rules or a lack of context in the photo). Each vendor has their own
mechanisms to educate chargers and riders about properly parking scooters;
it is likely that parking might vary by vendor. Parking may also vary
greatly in neighborhoods without designated parking zones.
IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE
The findings from this study can be used to inform policy and practice in a
myriad of ways. The safety and infrastructure-related findings can help
decision-makers to prioritize and revise regulations and requirements for
new micro-mobility options in mid-sized cities. The information on usage
behavior can help practitioners advance the integration of new technologies
into transportation systems to improve overall safety and performance.
Finally, the insights with regard to modal substitution may provide
evidence to support considering micro-mobility options as a feasible
strategy for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of short-trip travel.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
*Scooting to a New Era in Active Transportation: Examining the Use and
Safety of E-Scooters* <https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/project/1281>
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Currans/4519> and Nicole
University of Arizona; Reid Ewing
<https://nitc.trec.pdx.edu/research/researcher/Ewing/4149>, University of
- Download the Final Report (PDF)
- Download the Project Brief (PDF)
- Register for the June 7 Webinar
will cover findings from this project, along with two other NITC projects
on e-scooters coming out soon:
- Scooting to a New Era in Active Transportation: Examining the Use
and Safety of E-Scooters
- Evaluation of Portland Shared E-Scooter Pilot Program Goals and
- E-Scooters and Public Health: Understanding the Implications of
E-Scooters on Chronic Disease
*This research was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and
Communities, with additional support from the Arizona Board of Regents, the
City of Tucson, Salt Lake City Corporation, the University of Arizona and
the University of Utah.*
*The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is one of
seven U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation
centers. NITC is a program of the Transportation Research and Education
Center (TREC) at Portland State University. This PSU-led research
partnership also includes the Oregon Institute of Technology, University of
Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington and
University of Utah. We pursue our theme — improving mobility of people and
goods to build strong communities — through research, education and
Complaints rise as city sidewalks remain snowed over
Drifts of despair
SNOW-SWALLOWED sidewalks have forced parents to walk their children to
school along icy, rutted roads and to clamber over snowy banks. Others
trudge through deep snow; and many with mobility issues are simply stuck
Winnipeg sidewalks this winter are the worst Daniel Guenther has seen. As
the head of a residents association in the Garden City neighbourhood, he
said complaints have flooded in.
“I would say it’s progressively gotten worse,” Guenther said Tuesday.
“There’s the general feeling that looking around, there’s been major
cutbacks in the snow clearing operation.”
Guenther pointed to a host of issues also noted by residents around the
city, primarily in the northwest. Among them, the footpaths near R.F.
Morrison School are blown over.
“There’s been a lot of these major pathways of sidewalks that have not been
cleared once this winter, and now we’re into March,” he said. “Even when
they do come and clear it, there’s been times were I’ve seen the sidewalk
clearing equipment just stop because they’ve let it pile up — five, six
That’s meant towering snow piles left at those locations.
Guenther said he’s called the City of Winnipeg several times, but it seems
the city is overwhelmed and unable to respond.
City data support that hypothesis, at least in the northern region, where
zero per cent of P3 sidewalks and pathways have been cleared. P3 sidewalks
are the lowest priority, but comprise much of the residential areas.
However, 74 per cent of P3 sidewalks in the city’s eastern half have been
“It’s just disappointing,” Guenther said. “It’s showing the city’s lack of
commitment and a lack of support for pedestrians, and it shows a
prioritization of other areas.”
Of efforts to clear the snow, city spokesman Ken Allen said in an email:
“In response to multiple and back-to-back snow events with high
accumulations of snow and ice, our crews, which are comprised of a
combination of city staff and hired contractors, are working
around-the-clock continuing to plow sidewalks and active transportation
paths by priority.”
In late February, Winnipeg manager of street maintenance Michael Cantor
said city policy states priority 1 and 2 sidewalks should be cleared with
36 hours of a snowfall and priority 3 within five days, but heavy snow and
cold weather has caused plows to break down and delayed clearing.
Garden City residents are far from the only ones with complaints. Patricia
Evans, who lives on Valour Road, said she doesn’t think sidewalk plows can
even get through to her because street plows have deposited huge chunks of
ice and packed snow onto the footpaths.
Rachel Rempel said she’s had to help her child battle stacked snow all
winter on Granville Street in North Point Douglas, just to get him to the
For people with mobility issues, uncleared sidewalks can mean the
difference between getting out of the house and complete isolation, said
Kron, spokesman for Barrier- Free Manitoba, a non-profit that advocates for
disability and accessibility issues.
“They’re locked out of life,” he said. “There’s no safe way for them to get
Kron said seen and heard about an increase number of people resorting to
driving their scooters or wheelchairs along slippery roads. However,
particularly for accessibility advocates, this is an old issue, he said.
“We have this conversation every October after the first snow. But this
year’s been a record breaker. It’s gotten worse and worse.”
Kron said the city needs to develop a system to better system to inform
people of when their sidewalks will be cleared.
While city policy states sidewalks are to follow street clearings, this
year has proven the delay between the two can be unexpectedly long. Kron
wants improved communication, so people who depend on cleared paths to
participate in the community can plan their lives.
Coun. Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said malfunctioning sidewalk plows have been an
issue during his entire time as city councillor. There’s always been
winters with heavy snow, and the city needs to pony up and buy new
equipment if these problems are going to persist, he added.
Coun. Devi Sharma (Old Kildonan) said calls about uncleared sidewalks have
poured in to all councillors, and in response, the public works committee
will be issuing a report on snow and ice control policy later this year.