• Connecting Alaskans: mixed-use safety and accessibility challenges in rural environments

      Sorensen, Carrie L.; Belz, Nathan; Goddard, Scott; Barnes, David (2017-12)
      Connectivity in transportation networks, or lack thereof, is a challenge that many people have to deal with. Alaska has many rural communities that are inaccessible by conventional modes of transportation. In order for people to reach these communities and move between them unconventional modes of transportation are needed. However, very few studies have been done on unconventional transportation modes such as ATVs and snowmachines and the level to which they contribute to connecting people and how to help limit traumatic injuries of users. This study focuses on Alaska and three primary datasets. First, the Pacific North West Transportation Survey developed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Idaho. Second, Alaska Trauma Registry data obtained from Division of Public Health and Safety. Thirdly, publicly available GIS transportation network and populated place data. These three data sets accomplish the following objectives: (1) document preferences and perceptions of mixed-use safety, (2) to better understand the reasons for injuries and fatalities involving ATVs and snowmachines, and (3) to identify potential mixed-use conflict areas by geographic mapping of traumas. From this analysis a better understanding of ATV mode use was discovered. ATVs are used for a variety of trip purposes including: commuting, running errands, chores, and recreation. ATVs are used on and near roadways 24% of the time. There are twice as many ATV-related traumas in connected places than in isolated places, and 3 times more ATV related traumas in highway connected places than secondary road connected places. Snowmachines are used on and near roadways 23% of the time and have 3 times as many traumas in highway connected places than secondary road connected places. Highway connected places have a significantly higher risk of having ATV and snowmachine traumas than road connected places. This indicates that part of the issue could be the amount of traffic in connected areas, or perhaps the frequency of use of ATVs rather than automobiles in non-connected areas leading to fewer mixed-use scenarios.