More and more Americans are biking to work these days. According to a study by the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, the number of Americans who commute to work on their bicycles is up 22 percent over the past nine years. “Though biking is used for less than one percent of commuting trips in the United States, biking infrastructure investments are much more cost-effective at providing access to jobs than infrastructure investments to support automobiles,” Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory, told the University of Minnesota.
The majority of the articles in the May–June 2019 issue of TR News highlight women and gender in transportation. Focusing on and improving transportation for women not only advances the interests of women but also leads to better health, safety, and economic outcomes for all travelers and their communities. [Developed by the TRB Standing Committee on Women’s Issues in Transportationy, led by Tara Goddard and CTS associate director Dawn Hood.]
Minnesota state law requires drivers to give cyclists a wide berth, at least 3 feet, when passing. Most drivers do. During the road test, nearly 3,000 drivers passed the three researchers on bikes. When the team at the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs analyzed the radar data, they found just 33 drivers had broken the law and crowded in uncomfortably close to the cyclists. What shocked researchers and county transit planners was the target of most of these drive-bys. Lila Singer-Berk was one of three graduate students who did the legwork on the 2017 study.
Minneapolis-St. Paul ranks seventh among the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan areas for accessibility to jobs by bicycle, according to a University of Minnesota report released Wednesday. But that’s only for cyclists who are willing to put up with the stress of mingling with motor-vehicle traffic. When it comes to job access via low-stress bike routes that keep cyclists away from cars and trucks, the Twin Cities drops to 12th.... Researcher Andrew Owen said this was the first in what is expected to be a series of annual reports.
With its extensive network of bike lanes and trails, the Twin Cities has long been lauded as one of the top places in the country to ride. Here’s another reason: The metro area ranks seventh in the nation when it comes to the number of jobs a cyclist can potentially reach within 30 minutes. Cyclists can reach an average of 61,500 jobs in about a half-hour, or about the same number of jobs that those who use public transportation can get to in the same amount of time.
In the American cities with the best bike infrastructure, cyclists are able to reach 75 percent more jobs on safe dedicated bike facilities, a new report shows. University of Minnesota researchers mapped how many jobs the average person in every major U.S. metro area is able to reach by biking on both “low-stress” facilities — like trails and protected bike lanes — and “medium-stress” bike facilities, bike regular bike lanes and some minor streets with sharrows.
First-of-its-kind research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via bicycle. According to Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory, “Bike commuting is a cost-effective, healthy, and environmentally sustainable alternative to being stuck in traffic.
The hands-free phone bill that was passed in the Legislature this spring goes into effect Aug. 1. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts, and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota, spoke about what it means for a vehicle to be hands-free, what defines distracted driving and how drivers can use their phone hands-free.
Research from the University of Minnesota, Morris suggests that the sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea is a serious safety problem — not only for the nation’s truck drivers, but for the motorists who share the road with them. That extensive body of research found drivers who did not treat the sleep disorder had a preventable crash risk five times higher than those who sought treatment. Highly publicized crashes in recent years involving drowsy truck drivers and railroad engineers have highlighted the importance of proper rest in the hard-charging industry....
A University of Minnesota researcher is trying to make streets safer for the visually impaired. Chen-Fu Liao, a researcher at the Center for Transportation Studies, is working to create an app that uses a Bluetooth system to help visually impaired pedestrians navigate city streets. Liao will be putting his work to the test in Stillwater this fall by installing the Bluetooth software at multiple intersections. He will begin the installations in the next several weeks.
On August 1, the hands-free bill passed this spring will become law in the state of Minnesota. According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts, and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.
Four members of the Humphrey School community to weigh in on the big question, What transportation innovation is most needed now? Interviewees include CTS scholar Frank Douma, Research Fellow and Director, State and Local Policy Program, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and CTS-Ramsey County intern program coordinator Frank Alarcon (MURP ’18), Transit Planner, Ramsey County.
Summer’s here. You’ve probably seen more people out on their bikes lately, and if you think you’ve seen more men than women, you’re right. Cycling is a gendered activity. Dr. Jennifer Dill, an international authority on the gender gap in bicycling, has shown that “women are far less likely to bicycle for transportation than men,” and she cites concerns about safety as a major reason for this disparity. Recent research here at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs shows that women have real reason to be concerned.
Nichole Morris is a student of the streets—or, more precisely, an adjunct professor. On the day we call, the director of the U of M’s HumanFIRST Laboratory is out of the office, conducting pedestrian field research. On this day, her team is studying how drivers react to people in crosswalks and intersections by walking them and trying not to get creamed, but paying especially close attention to when they almost do. One of the biggest threats to their safety? Distraction, one would think.
Like other cities across the country, Minneapolis knows it has to address the impact of fast-changing mobility tech. Ride hailing, shared scooter and bike services, transportation apps. And as its population continues to grow the city is working to address its most pressing community needs.... Thomas Fisher, director of the University of Minnesota’s Design Center and whose research includes urban design, believes this kind of bottom-up approach to the changing mobility landscape is essential. “The sharing economy in some ways represents a questioning of top-down expertise,” Fisher said.
How easy is it to get the places we want to go? Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, gives us a new way to look at places – through the lens of accessibility. Access to jobs is one of the most widely used accessibility metrics. How many jobs can you reach in 30 minutes – by driving, transit, walking and, coming soon, by bicycling? As Andrew shares on the podcast, accessibility opens up new ways of looking at places, projects, land use policies and mode share. It’s a metric to take to neighborhood meetings or regional planning projects.
Carlton County owns and operates two airports.... The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies Airport Economic Impact Calculator estimates the two airports combined will generate nearly $3 million and more than 35 jobs county-wide in 2019. The calculator uses economic factors like airport revenue, construction costs and the number of visitors to estimate the amount of economic activity and jobs the airport generates.
A John Deere 6400 tractor rumbled through a University of Minnesota Morris research field earlier this month pulling a chisel plow and making some history. On this tractor, the fertilizer has become the fuel. It's running on a blend of 70 percent diesel and 30 percent ammonia — and researchers hope this carbon-cutting technology will eventually become a cost-effective option for farmers. It's part of a larger effort by U of M researchers to reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture. Will Northrop, director of the U of M's Thomas E.
The benefits of biking are many: it’s generally inexpensive, it’s good exercise and, according to new research from the University of Minnesota, commuting by bike makes you happier. But not everyone’s reaping those benefits to the same degree — and not just in the Twin Cities and Seattle. Gender gaps in cycling can be found across in cities around the world. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, men who work were twice as likely to commute via bike as women who work, at 1.2 percent, compared to 0.6 percent.
In Minnesota, 102 people were killed in 2016 and 2017, the most deadly two-year period in almost 20 years. The number of injuries continues to rise year to year. At the HumanFIRST laboratory at the University of Minnesota, Nichole Morris studies driver behavior with a state of the art driving simulator. She recruited four volunteers to test to see how they would react behind the wheel when facing sudden obstacles like a bicyclist darting into traffic. Every one of the test drivers hit at least one of the obstacles.
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