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50 Overall Findings Documenting and summarizing current DOT practices for defining, storing, collecting and sharing pedestrian infrastructure data will help agencies tailor the data collection process to build data infrastructure that supports various uses, leading to more consistent and efficient planning and management of pedestrian infrastructure. This chapter provides a summary of overall synthesis findings and includes recommended research for furthering the practice. The conclusions and research recommendations are based on results of the literature review, survey and case example interviews. Defining Pedestrian Infrastructure Data The wide variety of survey results returned indicate that there is no consistent, all-inclusive definition of what pedestrian infrastructure includes or how data defining pedestrian infrastruc- ture should be collected and stored. This lack of consistency contributes to diversity in how each state DOT approaches pedestrian infrastructure data collection and may result in inefficiencies and lost opportunity for collaboration and data sharing across departments. This finding is confirmed in both the literature review and case example interviews. Data Collection and Storage The survey found that 31 of the 40 responding DOTs (78%) report collection of pedestrian infrastructure data. The most frequent infrastructure data use cited was for ADA-related plan- ning. This is logical, given the federal mandate to maintain and implement an ADA transition plan. The survey findings indicate that several state DOT staff include counts and collision data in the discussion of pedestrian infrastructure. This finding was explored further in the case example interviews, where participants indicated that use of the data and departmental structure affected what they consider pedestrian infrastructure data. The pedestrian infrastructure inventories highlighted in the literature review and survey responses found substantial variation in the extent of data and attributes collected. Data about shoulders and sidewalks at both the project level and along state roadways are collected most frequently. Survey findings indicated that trail data are not collected comprehensively. Crossing and signal data, as related to ADA transition planning, were collected with lowest frequency. The extent of the data collected, both in terms of spatial degree and attributes, was related to staff capacity, departmental structure and intended use for the data. For instance, the case examples revealed that a state with greater staff capacity had a more robust data collection program, while C H A P T E R 5 Conclusions
Conclusions 51 an agency with only one staff person had a more limited data collection program. Robust and intentional database design and collection plans are consistent with current best practices. In terms of data collection methods, both the literature review and survey found little con- sistency from state to state. This variation makes aggregation or comparison between states challenging without substantial post-processing. As explored in the case example interviews, not only does the question of dataset consistency affect state-to-state comparisons, it complicates the ability to aggregate data from cities, counties and MPOs in the development of a statewide database. This has implications for various state-level questions, such as project evaluation and selection when state funding is pursued by jurisdictions. There are several examples of states that have developed a standard data dictionary that can be used by local jurisdictions, which is consistent with the current state of the practice. The literature review found that while data collection and processing methodologies differ by location, almost all inventories studied included descriptive methods for data collection and processing. Some also referenced hiring and training staff specifically for this task. This was consistent with several write-in survey answers, though this level of detail exceeds that of questions asked within the overall survey. The case example interviews supported the need for documenting collection methods and maintenance procedures. Due to staff turnover and inter- departmental use of the data, there were frequent remarks about distrusting or not fully under- standing the data and how they can be used. Developing and documenting data processing methods are consistent with the current state of the practice. The survey results revealed that many state DOTs have multiple methods for storing pedes- trian infrastructure data, which can lead to data inconsistency and funding inefficiencies. Mul- tiple methods of data storage likely are related to different data uses. The case example interviews confirmed this assessment. For example, GIS is used to store inventory data, while CAD files and PDF drawings are used by the same agency to store design details. The conversation is further complicated because several states use GIS-based systems as a reference for project- specific design details. This layering of storage systems can lead to confusion about the type of data available and discussions about how they are stored. The literature review indicated that for pedestrian infrastructure inventory, many states and regions use existing GIS data, along with aerial imagery and other computer-based methods, to collect data on pedestrian infrastructure. Few agencies reference fieldwork as a common data collection method. These findings generally are consistent with write-in survey answers. The case example interviews provided further insight into data collection methods, such as use of third-party vendors or coordinated efforts across departments and levels of government. The current state of practice recommends considering future data uses and design of storage struc- tures that accommodate these potential uses, when possible. The state DOT office typically is the source of data collection, though survey results indicate that MPO/RTPOs and other local partners are common sources of supplementary data. MPO/ RTPO partners were infrequently mentioned as the only source of infrastructure data. The lit- erature review and write-in survey answers also mention DOT field or district offices as sources of infrastructure data. Data Sharing The literature review found that many of the pedestrian infrastructure inventories described were available for download. The survey found that 12 of 31 states reporting data collection (39%) made data available to the public. Additionally, nine of 31 states (29%) have no formal mechanism for sharing infrastructure data, which is not consistent with current best practices.
52 Availability and Use of Pedestrian Infrastructure Data to Support Active Transportation Planning Twelve of 31 states (39%) reported few concerns with public data sharing, and about the same number reported no known concerns. Liability was a concern for only six states (19%). Case example participants provided more detail for these findings. Specifically, formal data-sharing mechanisms were less likely to exist for CAD- or PDF-based documentation, while GIS data were more readily available via an online portal. Public data requests were noted as one method of public access. Further, data-sharing concerns most often were related to liability, particularly in the case of project as-built documentation and ADA-related data, while privacy and contrac- tual concerns were noted by states using third-party vendors. Data Maintenance and Funding The survey found that 12 states (39%) have a data maintenance plan in place, and several others are developing similar offerings. Write-in survey results and case example interviews show that data maintenance and update strategies vary with each dataset, indicating a nuanced practice within many agencies. These results generally appear to be consistent with findings in the literature review. Case example participants indicated that data maintenance often was funding-dependent and, while data maintenance plans are in place for many states, they may not always cover pedestrian infrastructure data elements. Survey results indicate that most data collection and maintenance efforts are funded through multiple sources. Both the survey and literature review found that federal funding is most com- monly used. The survey found that funding frequently is provided through a larger line-item budget (e.g., the maintenance budget). Project-specific funding (e.g., dedicated funding for an inventory effort) was cited infrequently. Case example participants noted that project-specific funding primarily was used in terms of developing the as-builts that reflect the project record. Additionally, program budgets may be used to collect and maintain pedestrian transportation data specifically. Future Research Results from this synthesis identified several gaps in current knowledge that could be addressed by future research. The lack of consistency in data collected indicates the need to research development of a standardized data collection scheme and related guidance or ascertain how established data schemes such as MIRE 2.0 can be efficiently leveraged and used by DOTs in expanded data collection efforts. This research could provide information on where to begin, how to define the pedestrian network, and how to fund and maintain these efforts. An estimated research timeline is 18 months. Additional research into current and emerging best practices for collecting and managing transportation infrastructure asset data, specifically pedestrian data, also is needed. Current data collection practices often are built on historical processes, such as relying on as-builts or out- of-date database systems. Alternatively, data collection practices are not carried through staff- ing changes, departmental reorganizations or other structural changes. An estimated research timeline is 12 to 18 months. Finally, the survey and case example interviews indicate the need to research ways to improve understanding by practitioners about the common uses of pedestrian infrastructure data. Specifically, research into the approach to pedestrian network development as it relates to federal guidelines was noted as a topic for research. This could be accomplished through
Conclusions 53 research providing short case examples or a longer, more comprehensive national study. Addi- tional areas for targeted research include: â¢ Use of pedestrian infrastructure data to help prioritize maintenance activities. This study should explore specific data requirements needed to track various maintenance activities, such as surface management, markings and striping, and curb ramp quality. Findings from this study could include recommended frequency and detail of collection, along with possible analysis approaches to better support asset management. An estimated research timeline is 12 months. â¢ Further research into the validity and application of cell phone or Bluetooth-sourced data as they relate to demand. An estimated research timeline is 18 months. â¢ Understanding pedestrian demand patterns that capture a more comprehensive set of user types. An estimated research timeline is 18 months. â¢ Incorporating count information into a larger pedestrian planning process. An estimated research timeline is 18 months.