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Intersections and Non-Intersections: A Protocol for Identifying Pedestrian Crash Risk Locations in GIS

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Publication: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume: 16 (19)
Pages: 3565
Publication Date: 2019

Intersection and non-intersection locations are commonly used as spatial units of analysis for modeling pedestrian crashes. While both location types have been previously studied, comparing results is difficult given the different data and methods used to identify crash-risk locations. In this study, a systematic and replicable protocol was developed in GIS (Geographic Information System) to create a consistent spatial unit of analysis for use in pedestrian crash modeling. Four publicly accessible datasets were used to identify unique intersection and non-intersection locations: Roadway intersection points, roadway lanes, legal speed limits, and pedestrian crash records. Two algorithms were developed and tested using five search radii (ranging from 20 to 100 m) to assess the protocol reliability. The algorithms, which were designed to identify crash-risk locations at intersection and non-intersection areas detected 87.2% of the pedestrian crash locations (r: 20 m). Agreement rates between algorithm results and the crash data were 94.1% for intersection and 98.0% for non-intersection locations, respectively. The buffer size of 20 m generally showed the highest performance in the analyses. The present protocol offered an efficient and reliable method to create spatial analysis units for pedestrian crash modeling. It provided researchers a cost-effective method to identify unique intersection and non-intersection locations. Additional search radii should be tested in future studies to refine the capture of crash-risk locations.

Authors: Haena Kim, Mingyu Kang, Anne Moudon, Linda Ng Boyle,
Recommended Citation:
Kang, Mingyu, Anne Vernez Moudon, Haena Kim, and Linda Ng Boyle. 2019. Intersections and Non-Intersections: A Protocol for Identifying Pedestrian Crash Risk Locations in GIS. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 16, no. 19: 3565.

Freight and Bus Lane (FAB) Data Collection and Evaluation Plan (Route 40)

The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) was approached by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to complete a review of proposed evaluation criteria and propose a data collection plan in preparation for the implementation of a Freight and Bus Lane (FAB) Lane in Fall 2024 for King County Metro’s Bus Route 40.

This project would effectively produce the follow-on scope of work for the UFL to complete during the actual implementation (pre/post/post phase). UFL will build on the findings from the Urban Freight Lab’s Freight and Transit Lane Case Study completed in 2019. With the completion of the Route 40 TPMC project in Fall 2024, FAB lanes will be tested as a pilot in select locations and evaluated before permanent installation.


  • Refresh literature review on freight and transit lane studies
  • Meet with key stakeholders from SDOT and Metro to understand data collection tools and methodologies
  • Propose a technical evaluation plan for this pilot that includes data collection and metrics and communication strategies

Revenue-Related Strategies for New Mobility Options

The Urban Freight Lab (UFL) is partnering with ECONorthwest and Cityfi to develop a research product for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) on the topic of revenue strategies for new mobility options. The team will analyze the public sector’s potential role in using revenue-related strategies to encourage or discourage new mobility options in personal mobility and goods delivery.

Transportation services often operate in publicly owned and publicly managed spaces, make use of public rights-of-way, and produce mobility benefits for a broad array of users. The public sector is responsible for managing and pricing those rights-of-way and delivering services in an equitable way. Recovering the public costs of management and provisioning from private transportation services and their users is essential for maintaining public benefit. And sometimes the public sector needs to help private services to thrive.

The research methodology for this project is designed to be iterative: activities and research will build on previous research and activities. We will begin with the development of a revenue framework informed by a broad review of the literature, a policy scan, and workshop sessions with transportation and other public agency representatives that regulate and collect revenue from new mobility services. The framework will include revenue-related strategies based on:

    • (a) identifiable need
    • (b) nexus to cost responsibility
    • (c) policy outcome
    • (d) other factors such as access to technology and ease of administration.

We will then take a deeper dive into each personal mobility mode and goods delivery market segment to apply the framework. We will also provide examples to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of a variety of revenue strategies. We will also conduct additional workshops with public agency representatives, industry representatives, and other transportation stakeholders. Finally, we will create a spreadsheet-based Revenue Calculator that allows interested individuals to estimate how much revenue could be generated using different assumptions and strategies. The work will culminate with the development of a Toolkit that will be submitted to NCHRP and made available for wider distribution.


The objective of this research is to develop a toolkit for transportation agencies that addresses how revenue-related strategies (e.g., taxes, fees, and subsidies) support policy objectives and shape the deployment of new mobility options. The toolkit will assist agencies to develop, evaluate, implement, and administer revenue-related strategies for new mobility options that transport people and goods.

The research will include:

  1. New and evolving transportation options for people and goods that interact with the existing built environment and travel throughout an area
  2. Incentives and disincentives that result from revenue-related strategies
  3. Policy implications of revenue-related strategies for new mobility options including revenue potential, mobility, travel demand, safety, equity, environment, economic development, infrastructure design, operations, and maintenance
  4. Mechanisms for revenue collection and distribution for different mobility options in different scenarios
  5. The ease and difficulty of implementing and enforcing different revenue-related strategies for new mobility options
  6. Potential roles and responsibilities of governmental organizations and private entities

The Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System: Documenting Loading Bays, Demonstrating Parcel Lockers’ Proof of Concept & Tracking Curb Use in Seattle’s Interconnected Load/Unload Network (Task Order 2)

Part of the Final 50 Feet Research Program, this project contains: a curb occupancy study, a survey of First and Capitol Hill Loading Bays, a pilot test at Seattle Municipal Tower, and the development of a toolkit.

Private Loading Bays and Docks Inventory Study

Taken together with the Urban Freight Lab’s earlier private infrastructure inventory (Seattle Center City Alley Infrastructure Inventory and Occupancy Study 2018) in Downtown Seattle, Uptown, and South Lake Union, this report finalizes the creation of a comprehensive Center City inventory of private loading/unloading infrastructure.

To the research team’s knowledge, Seattle is the first city to maintain a database with the location and features of private loading/unloading infrastructure (meaning, out of the public right of way). This matters because these facilities are privately owned and managed, cities lack information about them—information critical to urban planning. The private infrastructure has been a missing piece of the urban freight management puzzle. The work in this report helps complete that puzzle and advance efforts to make urban freight delivery more efficient in increasingly dense, constrained cities, such as Seattle.

Key Findings from Private Loading Bays and Docks Inventory

Data collectors in this study identified, examined, and collected key data on 92 private loading docks, bays and areas across 421 city blocks in the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, First Hill, and a small segment of the International District east of I-5.  The earlier inventory in Downtown Seattle, Uptown, and South Lake Union had proportionally more than twice the density of private infrastructure of Capitol Hill and First Hill documented in this report. This finding is unsurprising. While all the inventoried neighborhoods are in the broad Center City area, they are fundamentally different neighborhoods with different built environments, land use, and density. Variable demand for private infrastructure—and the resulting supply—stems from those differences.

Researchers found that a trust relationship with the private sector is essential to reduce uncertainty in this type of work. UPS’ collaboration helped reduce uncertainty in the total inventory from 33% to less than 1%.

Curb Occupancy Study

This study gives the city on-the-ground data on the current use and operational capacity of the curb for commercial vehicles, documenting vehicle parking behavior in a three-by-three city block grid around each of five prototype Center City buildings: a hotel, a high-rise office building, an historical building, a retail center, and a residential tower. These buildings were intentionally chosen to deepen the city’s understanding of the Center City; they were part of UFL’s earlier SDOT-sponsored research tracking how goods move vertically within a building in the Final 50 Feet of the goods delivery system.

Significantly, this study captured the parking behavior of commercial vehicles everywhere along the curb as well as the parking activities of all vehicles (including passenger vehicles) in commercial vehicle loading zones (CVLZs.) The research team documented: (1) which types of vehicles parked in CVLZs and for how long, and; (2) how long commercial vehicles (CVs) parked in CVLZs, in metered parking, and in passenger load zones (PLZ) and other unauthorized spaces. (Passenger vehicles in this study were not treated as commercial vehicles, due to challenges in systematically identifying whether passenger vehicles were making deliveries or otherwise carrying a commercial permit.)

Key Findings from Curb Occupancy Study

  1. Commercial and passenger vehicle drivers use CVLZs and PLZs fluidly: commercial vehicles are parking in PLZs and passenger vehicles are parking in CVLZs.
  2. Most commercial vehicle (CV) demand is for short-term parking: 15 or 30 minutes.
  3. Thirty-six percent of the total CVs parked along the curb were service CVs, showing the importance of factoring their behavior and future demand into urban parking schemes.
  4. Forty-one percent of commercial vehicles parked in unauthorized locations. But a much higher percentage parked in unauthorized areas near the two retail centers (55% – 65%) when compared to the predominantly office and residential areas (27% – 30%). The research team found that curb parking behavior is associated with granular, building-level urban land use. This occurred even as other factors such as the total number, length and ratio of CVLZs versus PLZs varied widely across the five study areas.

Seattle Municipal Tower Common Carrier Locker Pilot

The UFL’s 2017 research (The Final 50 Feet Urban Goods Delivery System Research Scan and Data Collection Project) documented that of the 20 total minutes delivery drivers spent on average in the 62-story Seattle Municipal Tower, 12.2 of those minutes were spent going floor-to-floor in freight elevators and door-to-door to tenants on multiple floors. The UFL recognized that cutting those two steps from the delivery process could slash delivery time in the Tower by more than half—which would translate into a substantial reduction in truck dwell time.

This report provides compelling evidence of the effectiveness of a new urban goods delivery system strategy: common carrier lockers that create parcel delivery density and provide secure delivery locations in public spaces. Parcel lockers are widely available secure, automated, self-service storage systems that are typically owned by a single retailer or delivery firm and placed inside private property. In contrast, common carrier lockers are open to multiple retailers and delivery carriers. This pilot, which placed a common carrier locker system in the 62-floor Seattle Municipal Tower for ten days in spring 2018, was intentionally carried out in a public space.

Key Findings from Seattle Municipal Tower Common Carrier Locker Pilot

The common carrier locker both reduced total delivery time by 78% when compared to traditional floor-to-floor, door-to-door delivery method and cut the number of failed first parcel deliveries to zero.


Understanding and Mitigating Freight-Related Impacts from the West Seattle Bridge Closure

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Publication Date: 2022

West Seattle (WS) is a part of the city of Seattle, Washington, but is located on a peninsula west of the Duwamish River. The West Seattle High-Rise Bridge serves as the primary connector between West Seattle and the rest of the city, carrying some 84,000 vehicles on average each day. On March 23, 2020, that high bridge was suddenly closed to all vehicle traffic for safety reasons due to greater-than-expected structural deterioration. The high bridge is now being repaired with a reopening planned for 2022. With the closure, vehicles have needed to take alternative routes to and from the peninsula, including the 1st Avenue South Bridge and the South Park Bridge, located some 2.1 and 3.4 miles south of the high bridge (see Figure 1). After the closure, the number of available vehicle traffic lanes across the river dropped from 21 to 12, with eight lanes on the 1st Avenue South Bridge and four on the South Park Bridge [2]. Before the closure, drivers also used the two-lane Spokane Street Low Bridge under the high bridge to access West Seattle. But after the closure, low bridge use was initially (as of March 2021) restricted from 5:00 am to 9:00 pm to authorized vehicles only, including emergency vehicles, public transit, and 10,000+ pound gross weight freight vehicles.

The unexpected high bridge closure disrupted passenger and freight mobility to and from WS, increasing travel times and creating bottlenecks on the remaining bridges. This has had negative impacts on the peninsula’s economy, as well as its livability. Concerns also persist regarding the environmental and health impacts of traffic detours into Duwamish Valley neighborhoods that are already disproportionately impacted by air pollution and asthma [4]. As traffic demand increases with the gradual recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the negative impacts could worsen. Notably, the timing of the high bridge closure coincided with the start of the pandemic and the resulting economic shutdowns and slowdowns that continue as of this writing. As such, it is difficult at times in this report to entirely disentangle the broader effects of the pandemic from the more specific effects of the bridge closure. This challenge surfaces especially in our interviews with study area businesses and with carriers performing deliveries and pick-ups in the study area: They report definite impacts, but it is not always clear how much of the impact stems from the bridge closure alone versus the bridge closure on top of the pandemic’s myriad ripple effects. That said, this study seeks to:

  • Document the impacts of the high bridge closure on freight flow, businesses, and carriers.
  • Understand current freight movements and quantify freight demand.
  • Identify mitigation strategies for freight flow to/from WS, both during the bridge closure and beyond.
Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2022). Understanding and Mitigating Freight-Related Impacts from the West Seattle Bridge Closure.
Student Thesis and Dissertations

Using Technology to Revolutionize Public Transportation

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Publication Date: 2011

Public transportation could be an important component of a solution to providing mobility while reducing traffic congestion and the environmental impact of transportation. However, from a customer perspective, a mobility choice is only a choice if it is fast, comfortable and reliable. This research looks at the reliability of public transportation and the use of easy-to-access information to combat the inherent unreliability and other barriers to increased use that exist in the system. The first section investigates the characteristics of transit service that are associated with on-time performance. The second and third sections discuss results of a survey and wait time assessment of OneBusAway, a real-time next bus countdown information source. The results of the survey indicate that OneBusAway users have an increased satisfaction with public transportation, as well as a perception of a decreased waiting time, increased number of transit trips per week, increased feelings of safety, and an increased distance walked compared with before they used OneBusAway. The follow-up study finds that for riders without real-time information, perceived wait time is greater than measured wait time. However, riders using real-time information do not perceive their wait time to be longer than their measured wait time. In addition, mobile real-time information reduces not only the perceived wait time, but also the actual wait time experienced by customers. The final three sections discuss other potential transit information tools that overcome the barriers to increased public transportation use. The Explore tool, an Attractions Search Tool, is described. Explore makes use of an underlying trip planner to search online databases of local restaurants, shopping, parks and other amenities based on transit availability from the user’s origin. In the fifth and sixth sections, the Value Sensitive Design process is used to brainstorm and assess additional transit tools from the user and the bus driver perspective. As a whole, this work gives credence to the notion that the power of improved access to information can help overcome the barriers to increased transit use.

Authors: Kari E. Watkins
Recommended Citation:
Watkins, Kari E. (2011) Using Technology to Revolutionize Public Transportation. University of Washington Doctoral Dissertation.
Technical Report

Multimodal Intersections: Resolving Conflicts between Trains, Motor Vehicles, Bicyclists and Pedestrians

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Publication: Oregon State Department of Transportation
Publication Date: 2017

This research report investigates the relationship between pedestrians and bicyclists on paths parallel to railroad tracks and with a road perpendicular to the path. The possible conflicts at intersections within these design parameters are of concern to ODOT, and therefore, has been recognized as an opportunity to conduct research that improves this type of intersection. The goal of this research project is to create a Guidebook that suggests appropriate path or road treatments for crossings, while also acknowledging and complimenting the unique site conditions present at the intersection. The report contains an extensive literature review, including existing railroad treatment options, and a description of the conducted field surveys and pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle, and train counts from the video. The report could help future work, such as developing more design solutions for paths parallel to tracks and the road perpendicular to the path. A preliminary guidebook is exemplified in the conducted case studies. It is intended to be a user friendly tool for city planners and engineers to assess a crossing and identify appropriate treatment options to improve the path and road user environment, and overall safety for all users.

Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne V., Edward McCormack, Anna Bovbjerg, and Manali Sheth. Multimodal Intersections: Resolving Conflicts Between Trains, Motor Vehicles, Bicyclists and Pedestrians. No. FHWA-OR-18-04. Oregon. Dept. of Transportation, 2017.

Dynamically Managed Curb Space Pilot

Transportation Network Company (TNC) usage in Seattle has been increasing every quarter since 2015 when the City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) began collecting data. TNC trips exceeded 20 million in 2017, a 46% increase from total reported trips in 2016. This has led to concerns about congestion and pedestrian safety as cars and people take risks to connect at the curb and in the right-of-way. By providing additional curb capacity through increased passenger loading zones and directing customers via in-app messaging, the City may be able to reduce congestion and unsafe vehicle/people movements during peak traffic and late-night hours.

Other cities have attempted to study the impacts of increased usage of passenger loading zones (e.g., San Francisco, Washington D.C.), with varying success, but no standard methodology exists for cities to assess the potential for reallocated curb space and the subsequent impacts of those changes. SDOT is taking a data-driven approach to curb reallocation and traffic network impacts, modeling the work SDOT has done to quantify demand in paid parking areas and set rates accordingly. The main goals of this pilot are three-fold: increase pedestrian safety, minimize congestion impacts on the larger transportation network, and build a scalable methodology for assessment and implementation of curb allocation to accommodate this new mobility service.

The Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center and SDOT will work in collaboration with employers, transit operators, and TNCs to test a variety of strategies to mitigate the traffic impacts of TNC pick-ups on the greater transportation network and improve safety for passengers and drivers. Strategies include increasing the number of passenger loading zones in high-traffic pick-up areas and geofenced pick-up or black-out areas. Curb and street use data will be collected under each alternative and compared to baseline data.


Investigation of Private Loading Bay Operations in Seattle’s Central Business District

Publication: 9th International Urban Freight Conference, Long Beach, May 2022
Publication Date: 2022

Cities need new load/unload space concepts to efficiently move freight, particularly as autonomous vehicles (both passenger and freight) become feasible. This research aims to: understand the importance of off-street commercial parking, understand how off-street facilities are managed, and determine whether off-street commercial parking is an underutilized resource for urban goods delivery.

Researchers determined the locations of commercial and residential buildings in Seattle’s Central Business District with off-street delivery infrastructure, established communication with property management or building operators, and conducted interviews regarding facility management, usage, roadblocks in design/operations, and utilization.

This research finds that overbooking of off-street space is infrequent, most facility management is done by simple tenant booking systems, buildings relying primarily on curb space notes that infrastructure and operations were hindered by municipal services — especially when connecting to alleyways.

Recommended Citation:
Griffin Donnelly and Anne Goodchild. Investigation of Private Loading Bay Operations in Seattle's Central Business District. 9th International Urban Freight Conference (INUF), Long Beach, CA May 2022.
Technical Report

Characterization of Seattle’s Commercial Traffic Patterns: A Greater Downtown Area and Ballard/Interbay Vehicle Count and Evaluation

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Publication Date: 2021

Seattle now ranks as the nation’s sixth-fastest growing city and is among the nation’s densest. As the city grows, so do truck volumes — volumes tied to economic growth for Seattle and the region as a whole. But many streets are already at capacity during peak hours and bottleneck conditions are worsening. This project is designed to deliver critical granular baseline data on commercial vehicle movement in two key areas of the city to help the city effectively and efficiently plan for growing freight demand.

This timely research from the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) on behalf of the Seattle Department of Transportation produces Seattle’s first complete estimate of Greater Downtown area traffic volumes. And it offers a detailed analysis of commercial vehicle traffic in and around one of the city’s two major industrial centers, the Ballard-Interbay Northern Manufacturing Industrial Center.

These efforts are significant because the city has lacked a comprehensive estimate of commercial vehicle volumes until now. In the Greater Downtown area, the cordon counts (tracking traffic in and out of 39 entry/exit points) alongside traffic volume estimates will provide a powerful tool for local government to model, evaluate, develop, and refine transportation planning policies. This study lays the groundwork for the first commercial vehicle traffic model that will enable the evaluation of different freight planning and traffic management strategies, economic growth scenarios, and application of new freight vehicle technologies. Ballard-Interbay is slated for major infrastructure projects in the coming years, including new Sound Transit stations and critical bridge replacements. This analysis will help inform these projects, which are critical to an efficient, reliable transportation system for goods and people.

One overall finding merits attention as it suggests the need to update some of the freight network element categories defined in the current Seattle Freight Master Plan. The SCTL research team finds that the volume of smaller commercial vehicles (such as pick-ups, vans, and step vans) is significant in both the Greater Downtown area and Ballard-Interbay, representing more than half of all commercial vehicles observed (54% in the Greater Downtown area and 60% in Ballard-Interbay.) Among those smaller commercial vehicles, it is service vehicles that constitute a significant share of commercial traffic (representing 30% in the Greater Downtown area and 40% in Ballard-Interbay.) Among the myriad possible ramifications of this finding is parking planning. An earlier SCTL research paper (1) found service vehicles tend to have longer dwell times, with 44% of all observed service vehicles parked for more than 30 minutes and 27% parked for an hour or more. Given this study’s finding of service vehicles representing a significant share of commercial traffic volume, these vehicles may have a disproportionate impact on parking space rates at the curb.

Comprehensive planning requires comprehensive data. Yet cities like Seattle often lack the detailed data needed for effective freight planning, from peak hours and fleet composition to activity type and gateways of entry/exit. And if cities do have data, they are often too highly aggregated to be useful for management or planning or suffer from lack of comparability or data confidentiality problems.

Currently, urban traffic volume estimates by Puget Sound agencies are limited in spatial and vehicular detail. For example:

  • Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is responsible for recording traffic counts through the year on selected arterial streets in Seattle, providing a seasonally adjusted average weekday total vehicle traffic for all lanes at all count locations.
  • Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) provides annual average daily traffic volumes in select locations of their jurisdiction, including the major interstates and state highways in the Seattle area. This data includes truck volume separated into three types: single, double, and triple units.
  • Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) regional truck model has three levels of vehicle classification: light commercial, medium trucks, and heavy trucks. This is based on WSDOT Annual Traffic Flow’s count locations and additional manual counts for model validation through the Puget Sound Region.

But none of these existing efforts produce enough detail to understand Seattle’s vehicle movements or connect them with economic activity. To fill the gap, Seattle could consider adopting a standard freight-data reporting system that would emphasize collecting and distributing richer and better data for time-series analysis and other freight forecasting, similar to systems used in cities like Toronto and London. Seattle is a national leader when it comes to freight master plans. This study offers a critical snapshot of the detailed data needed for effective policy and planning, potentially informing everything from road maintenance and traffic signals to electric vehicle charging station sites and possible proposals for congestion pricing. That said, Seattle could benefit greatly from sustained, ongoing detailed data reporting.

Recommended Citation:
Urban Freight Lab (2021). Characterization of Seattle's Commercial Traffic Patterns: A Greater Downtown Area and Ballard/Interbay Vehicle Count and Evaluation.