ITE Journal - April 2021 - 42

ƒ	 Planners have leaned on scenario planning as a tool to
accommodate uncertainty. Scenario planning is not enough.
It is necessary to integrate flexibility and adaptability of
investments and operations into decision-making. It may
merit postponing major irreversible decisions until some
uncertainties have passed. For example, expansion projects
highly dependent on work trip commuters for justification
might best be postponed until post-COVID-19 commuting
patterns reveal themselves.
ƒ	 Methodologies for planning for stable or declining travel
need to be developed. Future per capita vehicle travel growth
is not anticipated to be robust and may even decline in some
geographies. Thus, some geographies will be challenged to
maintain current infrastructure and services in the face
of declining demand and weakening economies. Planning
practices need to address this challenge.
ƒ	 Performance metrics for transportation need to be updated
post-COVID-19 (capital and operating costs, capacity,
productivity, energy/emissions efficiency, etc.) to reflect
actual conditions. Many existing perceptions as to attributes
of various investment and service options are dramatically
out of date and reflect historic conditions that no longer exist.
ƒ	 The evolution to far more complex funding strategies with
reduced dependence on user fees has increased uncertainty
regarding future resource availability. This ad hoc funding
of transportation and/or dependence on reoccurring general
fund appropriations undermines historic programming
strategies which may need review.
A comprehensive rethinking of transportation planning is
in order. While this change may be incremental and vary across
geography, COVID-19 should serve as a trigger for an updating
of transportation planning. This does not imply abandoning the
decades of progress, but rather building on that knowledge and
adapting transportation planning to a post-COVID-19 world. If
planning is not significantly updated and redesigned, it will lose its
credibility and relevance to decision making.

COVID-19 and Safety
Transportation safety has historically been the top priority for
transportation stakeholders at the federal, state, and local levels
inclusive of operating entities and private sector partners. The
COVID-19 pandemic has raised new safety concerns and may
influence consideration of travel safety going forward. While roadway
fatalities historically correlate with roadway volumes, the nature of
that relationship has changed during the pandemic. Early evidence
indicates that fatality rates, the single most widely observed safety
metric, increased significantly from 1.17 fatalities to approximately
1.48 fatalities per 100,000,000 vehicle miles during the third quarter of
2020. Exploratory research by the U.S. Department of Transportation
(USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes
fatality rate changes during COVID-19 to a myriad of factors:
Of the drivers who remained on the roads, some engaged in
riskier behavior, including speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and
driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Traffic data
indicated average speeds increased during the second quarter,
and extreme speeds became more common. Other data suggested
fewer people involved in crashes used their seat belts.1
Over time, researchers will gain a richer understanding of the
myriad of safety influencing factors that impact emerging trends
and their persistence after COVID-19. Reduced congestion enables
higher speed travel and more variability of speeds within the traffic
flow. Higher speed crashes increase the probability of fatalities.
Younger, more risk-taking drivers may have been a larger share of
the traveling population. Lockdowns and diminished activity levels
may have motivated careless driving behavior as travelers " escaped "
being confined.
Strategic implications relating to safety may emerge. As more
is learned about post COVID-19 travel conditions and behaviors,
safety strategies and priorities may shift. Critical locations for safety
investment, design features, regulation, education, enforcement,
and other elements in the arsenal of tools to improve travel safety
may merit changes.

Transportation and Equity

SB7/Shutterstock

COVID-19 has affected different population groups in different
ways, and new and existing inequities have been emphasized by
social unrest. Lower income household members, often inclusive
of disproportional shares of racial and ethnic minorities, are more
likely to have been hurt by job layoffs or engaged in high exposure
service or production employment not conducive to telework. They
are also more likely to depend on shared modes of travel with higher
exposure risk. This differential effect of COVID-19 has sensitized the
public to disparities in transportation and a rethinking of the role of
transportation in the welfare of low-income population segments.
42

Apri l 2021

i te j o urn al



ITE Journal - April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ITE Journal - April 2021

ITE Journal - April 2021 - 1
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 2
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 3
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 4
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 5
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 6
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 7
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 8
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 9
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 10
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 11
ITE Journal - April 2021 - 12
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