Research Recap, April 25: Water Shortages, Pedestrian Safety, Electric Vehicles and Air Quality
Peru. Need a caption here. Photo by Mario Lapid.

Water shortages are a critical problem for cities, especially in Peru, South America's least water-secure country. Photo by Mario Lapid.

Welcome to “Research Recap,” our series highlighting recent reports, studies and other findings in sustainable transportation policy and practice, in case you missed it.

Water Shortages

One billion city dwellers will suffer from water shortages in 2050, predicts a scientist group from The Nature Conservancy, City University of New York and Stony Brook University. The research team modeled water availability for cities in developing countries with populations greater than 100,000. Their study concluded that global climate change and an anticipated influx of 3 billion urban residents will be the primary precipitators of future water shortages. Despite these haltingly severe predictions, the scientists report that the crisis can be averted through resource management and increased efficiencies.

Pedestrian Reaction Times

A new report by researchers at the University of London, England found that children are not able to accurately judge the speed of vehicles traveling towards them at miles per hour or faster. As a part of a larger project investigating pedestrian accidents, the research study examined the perceptual acuity of roughly 100 elementary school students. “This is not a matter of children not paying attention, but a problem related to low-level visual detection mechanisms,” said John Wann, a professor in the university’s Department of Psychology.

Mileage-Based Driving Fee

Reeling in the reality of higher gas prices, the state of Minnesota is embarking on a new research study to explore the feasibility of implementing a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) to supplement highway funding. The proposed mileage-based user fee would come as either a supplement or replacement to gas taxes. The new research study, conducted by Minnesota’s Department of Transportation, will test technology used to collect a mileage-based fee.

Biofuel GHG Emissions

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) examined the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of bio and synthetic fuels and found a consistent variation in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions each fuel produced. According to the researchers, the study impresses the importance—for both decision makers and the general public—of reporting a range of greenhouse gas emissions for any given biofuel.

Electric Vehicles and Air Quality

Plug-in electric vehicles will positively affect air quality, indicates a new study from researchers at the University of Texas. The study examined the effect of replacing 20 percent of gas-powered light duty vehicles with electric plug-in vehicle’s on ozone concentration. The study found that such an increase in electric plug-in vehicles would cause an increase in ozone during nighttime hours, a decrease in ozone during day hours, and overall, a positive impact on air quality.

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