Commuters who take scenic West River Parkway in south Minneapolis during weekday morning rush hours — whether by car, bike or foot — are among the happiest in the Twin Cities. Conversely, nearby Hiawatha Avenue between Fort Snelling and downtown Minneapolis “is not a happy road,” said Yingling Fan, a professor in urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Fan took data from a smartphone app developed at the U that recorded the emotional responses of nearly 400 people to their transportation activities in real time to create what she calls the Transportation Happiness Map. It’s her latest effort to explore the notion of happiness — which she defines as one’s well-being — as a useful metric to assess transportation systems and guide policymaking. “If we don’t improve the experience in public spaces, we miss opportunities to make cities more livable and happier places,” Fan said.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the death of George Floyd have brought people out onto the street as never before, showing how much our roadways are no longer just corridors devoted to moving vehicles, bikes and pedestrians as fast and efficiently as possible. Streets have become the places where we increasingly pursue our personal, public and even our political lives, and we could use some new ways of talking about them. We also could use new names for them that more accurately describe how we have come to use them. CTS scholar Tom Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota and School of Architecture professor, offers a few suggestions from an urban design perspective.
University of Minnesota professor Edward Goetz studies issues of race, class and access to affordable housing. “Systemic racism refers to racism and disparate outcomes that are built into our systems. That may have been built into our systems for reasons that have nothing to do with race, but that in fact work now to reinforce racial inequity and inequalities,” Goetz said. For example, in the 20th century, Goetz says there were explicit forms of racial discrimination in housing. It was illegal for some people to occupy certain types of housing and it created great wealth imbalances. Even though those overt acts of racism may not happen now, “What that has created over time is a huge disparity in wealth because there’s been a generation or two of white people who have been able to generate a lot of wealth from their housing and have passed that wealth onto subsequent generations,” Goetz said.
Most residential sidewalks in the Twin Cities are about 5 feet wide — too narrow to maintain a 6-foot buffer when parties pass one another. A once-simple stroll can now feel like a real-life version of the video game Frogger, dodging other walkers and joggers. Although professor Ingrid Schneider studies recreational trail users’ behaviors and attitudes, some of her research might help us better understand these encounters, which she’s heard described as “sidewalk chicken.” Through her work for the University of Minnesota’s Department of Forest Resources, she has been seeing density and spacing issues on trails long before the arrival of coronavirus. Her decade-old survey of Minnesota trail hikers found that nearly half of respondents had experienced conflict from other recreationalists passing too closely or not yielding. Now that the threat of coronavirus has made “a seemingly simple navigation so much more complex,” she recommends that walkers use kindness and common sense and watch the “sidewalk rage.” ... Following a few simple guidelines for sidewalk etiquette should help improve the experience on city sidewalks or parkland trails.
The Midwestern city that has been the site of unrest views itself as embracing multiculturalism. But it also struggles with segregation and racial gaps on education. The legacy of policies discriminating against people of color has lingered. “The racism has been around for a very, very long time," said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “You can see it in the redlining of neighborhoods, the education system, the transportation system and, obviously, policing.”
Race and transportation access have collided before in Minneapolis, said Yingling Fan, a professor of regional planning and public policy at the University of Minnesota. Like many U.S. cities, it is sliced up by major interstates built in the 1960s. These forced out black communities, including the Rondo neighborhood, which made way for I-94 near downtown. “It displaced and destroyed what was a vibrant African-American community with surgical precision,” said Fan, also a CTS scholar.
The nation’s 2 million truck drivers, deemed essential workers in the pandemic, are now viewed by some as heroes — just like doctors, nurses and grocery store clerks. “Truck drivers are getting the credit they’ve long deserved in this crisis,” said John Hausladen, president and CEO of the Minnesota Trucking Association. With trucks moving about 71% of the nation’s freight, the industry “provides the essential goods that we need,” he added. As consumers experience flash shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other seemingly random household staples, they may suddenly wonder where it came from. “It takes a slowdown and stoppage in the economy to change the perspective on how it all works,” said Stephen Burks, a professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
As the novel coronavirus expands beyond major cities and the coasts — and as states start to emerge from shelter-in-place orders — locations with fewer medical resources will need strategies that work for them. “While rural areas are typically under-resourced and disadvantaged as it comes to health and health care, a model like this shows that rural places can be particularly nimble and flexible,” said Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of the University of Minnesota’s Rural Health Research Center. [This story was also published in The Seattle Times: Vashon Island: remote and ready to fight coronavirus’ next wave on May 18, 2020]
While it’s impossible to predict the future, interviews with transportation and public-health experts suggest that the pandemic offers an opportunity to reshape transit systems and revive cities, with the potential to ward off infectious disease and even some chronic illnesses. And while lockdowns have put public transport in a state of crisis for the moment, strategic investment, creative thinking, and new technologies could eventually make people feel safe enough to ride again, says Yingling Fan, an urban planner at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. “There's certainly a lot of challenge, but also there's a lot of opportunity,” she says.
Dairy farmers have felt the pandemic’s effects, too. “Some farmers are dumping liquid milk because schools are closed,” trucking industry economist Stephen Burks at the University of Minnesota Morris told TT. Morris is in a region dominated by agriculture. “There’s just a lot fewer milk tankers that are running.” Plus, getting milk from a farmer to a grocery store, restaurant or cafeteria often involves multiple trips in a tanker truck. “Fresh milk moves from the farm to a processing facility in a tanker, then from the processing facility to the buyers of liquid milk, then eventually to the customer,” Burks said.
Global manufacturing is an intricate ecosystem of specialized players, their fates closely intertwined.... "I tell my students that the supply chain professionals they're becoming are going to be the heroes of the next phase of [the coronavirus] recovery," says Karen Donohue, an expert on supply chains at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. "Right now, the health care workers are the heroes. But supply chain professionals are the ones who are going to have to figure out all these pieces, and how they connect, and how to reconnect them to different sources."
From accelerating existing trends to inspiring technological advances, the COVID-19 pandemic is poised to have a lasting impact on the way future offices and other public gathering places are designed, built and used. That’s a big-picture message from Twin Cities architects and other building experts, who looked at the future of buildings through the lens of the public health crisis.... That trend has already started and the pandemic is likely to accelerate the shift from cubicles to home offices, said CTS scholar Thomas Fisher, professor and director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota.
There's a new COVID-19 tracking app for Minnesotans that breaks it down into neighborhoods. "SafeDistance" uses public data but it will also rely heavily on users to add to the platform. HealthPartners Institute, researchers at the University of Minnesota and Modern Logic have teamed up for this nonprofit project. They hope that through the app, users can learn more about the health of their neighborhood and help them avoid potential COVID-19 hotspots.
Working with researchers from the University of Minnesota, the HealthPartners Institute has launched a free smartphone app intended to help fight COVID-19 by tracking outbreaks at the neighborhood level using crowd-sourced information from anonymous users. The SafeDistance app, which is making its debut across Minnesota this week, is even being touted as a potential strategy to reopen the economy. SafeDistance promises a “hyper-local” view of neighborhood health — both confirmed and suspected cases of the virus — down to the census tract, which is roughly population groups of 1,500 people.
The University of Minnesota and HealthPartners are at work on an app they tentatively plan to call "SafeDistance." What’s less certain is the degree to which privacy advocates and everyday consumers will voluntarily opt into such services when they’re ready for widespread application — or whether government might someday legally mandate that smartphone companies automatically enroll their customers.... Shashi Shekhar, a computer scientist, data engineer and McKnight Distinguished Professor with the University of Minnesota, sees the digital “bread crumbs” that cell phones can share as a more accurate alternative to manual contact tracing — and a possible way to someday limit quarantines to the very vulnerable and to the recently exposed, as opposed to the general population.
The share of Minnesotans working from home rather than going to an office will not return to pre-pandemic levels soon, if ever.... Lee Munnich said he isn’t surprised. Munnich might be called Minnesota’s telework policy guru. It’s a research specialty he honed during 25 years as director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Now retired as director, Munnich continues to conduct transportation policy research.
University of Minnesota researchers have developed an app to warn senior drivers when they are engaging in risky maneuvers and help them pay better attention while behind the wheel. The RoadCoach app provides auditory and visual messages in real time when drivers speed, brake too hard, fail to yield or run stop signs, then encourages them to make corrections. “It’s like a surrogate coach in the passenger seat,” said Nichole Morris, who led the research and study funded through a grant from the Roadway Safety Institute. Morris is director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory.
University computer science and engineering professor Shashi Shekhar writes that smartphone-location-based contact tracing could not only save lives now, but also provide valuable information to public health researchers to improve the understanding of epidemiology and improve intervention methods when it comes to containing future waves of SARS-Cov2 and other communicable diseases. (Co-author: Apurv Hirsh Shekhar, MD candidate, Yale School of Medicine. This essay first appeared on the MIT Press Reader. )
Trucking has seen an upturn, too, as drivers rush the supplies that fill grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies and other critical businesses. But Stephen Burks, an industry economist at the University of Minnesota-Morris, told Transport Topics that trucking likely will see a slowdown, too, as the rest of the economy deals with the lingering effects of the coronavirus. “I think the big question is whether … the current spike can sustain itself, and my opinion is, it’s probably going to be a short run,” Burks said. “There’s been enough effect, contracting parts of the economy, that overall freight demand has to drop at some time. But that will be mitigated somewhat by the change in the freight mix.”
Metro Transit is cutting service, but not as fast as riders are cutting their use of the cities’ buses and rail lines. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro Transit on Wednesday will begin operating most routes at Sunday service levels.... Metro Transit relies on user fares for about a third of its revenue, which is consistent with other public transit systems across the country, said Yingling Fan, a regional planning and policy professor with the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. With much of that revenue drying up, many transit systems could face financial challenges or even insolvency in the coming weeks and months.
Minneapolis and St. Paul recently lowered speed limits on their residential streets to make them safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Researchers have known for years that dropping highway speeds decreases vehicle pollution, but whether lower travel speeds in cities will bring the same result remains unclear, according to national and global reports on the impact of speed reductions.... University of Minnesota associate professor William Northrop said dropping speeds on city streets in and of itself will result in “not much of a difference” in air quality. Northrop directs the T.E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Changing speeds below 40 mph does not make fossil fuel engines any more efficient, he said, because most vehicles operate most efficiently at higher speeds.
In a project sponsored by the Roadway Safety Institute, University of Minnesota researchers have developed a system that uses Bluetooth ‘tags’ to trigger in-vehicle audio warnings when approaching a highway workzone.... “Providing drivers with tailored in-vehicle messages before they arrive at highway workzones has the potential to save lives and prevent many injuries,” explained Chen-Fu Liao, a senior research associate at the UMN’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Keeping roads safe for drivers is a top priority for road maintenance crews. The challenge is using enough salt and sand to keep cars out of ditches, while minimizing its environmental impact. But road salt is also a harsh and permanent chemical when it reaches the freshwater environment. “Duluth’s drinking water comes from Lake Superior, so we’re potentially polluting our own drinking water with all the salt we use in the winter,” explained Chanlan Chun, the lead NRRI researcher on two road salt projects. Her goal is to gain better understanding of the problem to lead to comprehensive solutions. One project, funded by the Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, is researching when and where salt is getting into streams along the south shore of Lake Superior. The second project is funded by the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation to understand environmental impacts and comparative cost of potassium acetate applied as a salt alternative.
City planners and engineers are stumped over why so many drivers can’t handle something as simple as a roundabout. Roundabouts have proliferated around the U.S. in recent years, arriving in some areas of the Midwest and West for the first time. Yet even years after some are installed, driver confusion persists. And with confusion comes fender-benders. Authorities have boosted public education, tweaked signs and modified roadway designs in search of solutions. The federal government is leading a study on drivers’ failure to yield to traffic when entering two-lane roundabouts, a major cause of collisions. State transportation departments from Washington to New York are helping fund the research.... University of Minnesota transportation researcher John Hourdos said he understands why people are leery of two-lane roundabouts. “Either that problem is going to go out with time because people are going to finally get trained, or we’re going to figure it out and change the cues to make people do the right thing without thinking,” he said.
Your drive could soon get a little more high-tech when it comes to navigating work zones in Minnesota. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are working on something they believe could revolutionize your commute: the Statewide Work Zone Information System (SWIS). John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it would be the first of its kind in the country. He said the idea is to put small beacons, which are wired with cellphone technology, Bluetooth radio and a GPS, onto work zone equipment like construction barrels and signs. Those beacons would then communicate with a statewide smart map to give drivers up-to-the-second updates on work zones.
Port leaders in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest ports in North America, say empty cargo containers are stacking up as many factories in China remain closed or are operating at below-capacity levels as a result of the coronavirus. Alarm bells are starting to ring about the economy as the number of coronavirus cases increases domestically, even though some indicators show the economy is proving to be resilient.... University of Minnesota-Morris economics professor Stephen Burks specializes in trucking and supply chain issues. Early in his career in the 1970s, he drove a truck for 10 years before earning his Ph.D. He agrees with Costello that there isn’t enough information to make an accurate projection where the economy will be in two to three months.
Townhouses have the modern look of downtown lofts and touches of urban living, with front porches, alleys and sidewalks.... The suburbs have become more racially and economically diverse, with more adventurous dining and entertainment options. Commuting patterns have shifted as well; more businesses have set up shop in the suburbs near where their workers live, and more people telecommuting or managing flexible schedules mean that fewer workers make the daily rush-hour round trip to the city. “It used to be that the cheap houses were in the city — the suburbs was where you went when you had money. Now that’s flipped,” said Tom Fisher, professor of architecture and director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota. Fisher said that putting more housing on smaller lots will be critical to the survival of suburbs.
The University of Minnesota has started work on what officials call a "Super Ambulance," which they say will be the first of its kind in the country. The Super Ambulance is outfitted with virtual reality technology. Researchers believe it will help save the lives of more Minnesotans. The design team took 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS inside the official mockup Friday. "There's a 3D panoramic view from this camera here," explained John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory and research associate professor at the University's Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering Department. "So it basically sees the whole room and it's like a big IMAX screen." Hourdos has spent the past two years developing the technology so all the equipment and cameras inside the Super Ambulance can transfer their feeds wirelessly and instantaneously.
There’s a tension in transportation news. On one hand, cities are eager to nudge residents away from automobiles and toward modes that pose less danger, both to people and the planet. But the mobility stories that grab media attention often involve launching buzzy plans for hyperloops, autonomous vehicles, MaaS apps, and microtransit startups — innovations that have yet to prove they can reduce driving.... Time spent waiting for a bus feels even longer when there’s no place to sit or get out of the rain. I mean that literally: A study from the University of Minnesota found that a five-minute wait at an exposed, “pole-in-the-ground” bus stop will seem like a 13-minute wait. If the transit agency simply offers a bench and some kind of roof, perceived wait time falls to 7.5 minutes.
Minneapolis-St. Paul held at No. 13 in the 2018 national rankings of the number of jobs workers can get to using public transportation. Twin Cities workers can reach more than 18,000 jobs by train or bus in a half-hour or less and nearly 147,000 jobs in an hour or less, according to the annual survey of the 50 largest U.S. cities carried out by the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota. The Twin Cities also ranked 13th in 2016 and 2017, said study author Andrew Owen.
While debate about rising crime on the Twin Cities’ light-rail lines has emerged at the Capitol this year, there’s been little discourse about ensuring passenger safety at Green and Blue Line stations. The stops serve as entry points to a light-rail system that ferries some 25 million passengers annually. But a renewed emphasis on safety by Metro Transit and state lawmakers could have a positive spillover effect on the light rail system’s 37 stations.... Of the five stations shared by the Green and Blue lines in downtown Minneapolis, the U.S. Bank Stadium stop has the highest incidence of crime — coinciding with a spike in serious crime in the growing Downtown East neighborhood. Yingling Fan, a professor of regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said that in terms of violent crime, “the number is pretty small when compared to other public spaces.”
A dab of taconite tailings. A soupçon of dredge sediment. A pinch of wood-processing byproducts. It's all a part of the process as NRRI researcher Marsha Patelka pursues her goal of turning waste resources into good topsoil.
De-icing salt dumped on roads, sidewalks and parking lots remains the No. 1 culprit, contributing about 42% of the chloride fouling surface waters, according to University of Minnesota research. Farm fertilizers, including manure spread on fields, are No 2. No. 3 is wastewater treatment plants and septic systems — and most of the chloride in those systems comes from the water softeners in homes and businesses. “If your wastewater treatment plant is discharging to a lake, river or stream, your salt is running directly into a lake, river or stream,” said Sara Heger, a research engineer at the U’s Water Resources Center. “The wastewater treatment plant is not removing any of the chloride. There’s really no cost-effective easy way to remove it. We need to stop it on the front end.”
To improve safety at highway projects across the state, researchers at the University of Minnesota (UMN) are working on a tagging and mapping system that can efficiently gather information about the layout of work zones, perform remote inspections, and disseminate warnings to drivers. The goal of the UMN’s Statewide Work Zone Information System (SWIS) is to serve as a real-time database of active work zones from the moment the first advanced warning sign is placed to the time crews pack up.... “We know that speeding and driver inattention are the two main causes for single-vehicle crashes in Minnesota,” explained John Hourdos, director of the UMN’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory and the project’s principal investigator.
A study published by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Harvard Medical School and other institutions in October found 1,200 commercial truck drivers who participated in an employer sleep apnea screening and treatment program saved an average of $441 per month in health costs compared with drivers who were not treated. An earlier study of members of a health plan serving Union Pacific employees also found overall health savings among workers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea and got treatment.
A University of Minnesota professor is trying to re-engineer bike safety by developing a safer bike. “We’re trying to make a smart bicycle that protects itself,” said Professor Rajesh Rajamani from the U of M mechanical engineering department. The bike itself is an electric commuter bike that Professor Rajamani has equipped with sensors, microprocessors and low-density LIDAR lasers.
Sgt. Troy Christianson with the Minnesota State Patrol says you shouldn't use cruise control in the winter months, because even if you think roads aren't slippery, they can refreeze quickly. He warns when a driver's vehicle starts to slide, most react by hitting the brakes. Raj Rajamani, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota, says cruise control estimates vehicle speed based on the speed of all four wheels. "So, if there's a lot of slip going on, it won't know the speed correctly," he said. "So, it's unpredictable what the cruise control will do in terms of how fast the car will go." But more than that, Rajamani says when using cruise control it's harder for drivers to feel what's happening on the road underneath them.
New vehicles can come equipped with new technology aimed at making driving easier, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll make driving safer. Researchers at the University of Minnesota's HumanFirst Lab have been studying how certain new automated technology, like adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist, impact the decision making of drivers. According to HumanFIRST Lab director Nichole Morris, "The risk is, [the systems] can really lull us into feeling like they can do more than what they can ... You should be driving and using the system to support you. But drivers are really seeing it the other way around." Assistant professor of civil engineering Raphael Stern and Humphrey School State and Local Policy director Frank Douma also interviewed.
Sleep is the latest in an ever-growing list of wellness issues — such as weight loss, exercise and nutrition — that firms are targeting to improve workers’ health and lower medical costs.... A study published by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Harvard Medical School and other institutions in October found that 1,200 commercial truck drivers who participated in an employer sleep apnea screening and treatment program saved an average of $441 per month in health costs compared with drivers who were not treated. An earlier study of members of a health plan serving Union Pacific employees also found overall health savings among workers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea and got treatment.
A study published by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Harvard Medical School, and other institutions in October found 1,200 commercial truck drivers who participated in an employer sleep apnea screening and treatment program saved an average of $441 per month in health costs compared with drivers who were not treated. An earlier study of members of a health plan serving Union Pacific employees also found overall health savings among workers who were diagnosed with sleep apnea and got treatment.
Snow and ice are part of Minnesota winters; lakes are part of Minnesota summers. It’s becoming increasingly clear that these Minnesota staples are intricately linked—the future of one is dependent upon the way we deal with the other. When it snows, or even when it is expected to snow, the plows head out with our weapons against dangerous roads: salt and sand. Unfortunately, salt is causing harm in an unintended place—in lakes, streams, wetlands and groundwater.... An estimated 365,000 tons of salt is applied to roads in the Twin Cities metro area each winter. A University of Minnesota study found that 78 percent of this salt is transported to groundwater, lakes, or wetlands.
UMD civil engineering assist professor and CTS scholar Manik Barman writes about a study conducted at UMD that investigated the influence of the fiber geometry and dosage on the post-crack performance of fiber-reinforced concrete. The study compared the post-crack performance of several different types of fibers and established correlations between properties of fibers and the residual strength of the fiber-reinforced concrete, which is an indicator of post-crack performance. (Co-authors: Bryce Hansen, Tom Burnham, and Maria Masten.)
A recent study has found that providing drivers with a sleep apnea treatment program could be good for your fleet’s bottom line. A joint study published in the medical journal SLEEP conducted by Precision Pulmonary Diagnostics, Harvard Medical School, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and the University of Minnesota-Morris has demonstrated that employer-sponsored sleep apnea screening, diagnosis, and treatment yields significant health cost savings in employee health insurance claim costs.
A standardized and universal format for the storage and access of traffic signal data has not yet been developed. To remedy this data challenge, University of Minnesota researchers have compiled intersection control information from traffic signal control professionals throughout the state of Minnesota. John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, provided details about the project.
In the past decade, distraction-related crashes have been sharply rising, and cellphones are a major culprit. But getting drivers to put their devices down isn’t easy, and experts worry penalties aren’t enough—attitudes about technology and safety need to change.... Nichole Morris, a research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, says her team has studied the effects of forward-collision warning systems and in-vehicle messages that alert drivers if they get too close to the car in front of them. The researchers hypothesized these systems would leave drivers more susceptible to distraction. But they found the opposite.
With the goal of reducing bike-car collisions, University of Minnesota researchers have designed a bike that alerts drivers when their car gets close to bikers. Researchers in the Laboratory for Innovations in Sensing, Estimation and Control developed the bike alert system to protect bicyclists from vehicles that get too close to them. The researchers hope the technology will reduce accidents between vehicles and bikes on the road. This is especially important on the University campus, which sees heavy car and bicycle traffic year-round.... Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory, which is involved with the project, said the purpose of subjects riding the bikes for several weeks is to get feedback on how the bikes operate. Part of this involves looking at whether the alert system is sending out the noise signal when it is supposed to.
Requiring drivers to get treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) saved a trucking company a large amount in insurance costs for other health conditions, according to a new study said study authored by Steve Burks, a professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota Morris. People with apnea repeatedly stop breathing and wake partially during the night, resulting in poor sleep that can worsen other medical conditions. Researchers noted that even though OSA has been linked with higher rates of serious preventable truck crashes, the U.S. Department of Transportation does not require commercial vehicle operators to be screened for it. One reason for that is trucking industry concerns about cost.
Eden Prairie is at the front of Minnesota’s charge to bring hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) to the road, both at the city level and for individual consumers.... Will Northrop is a mechanical engineering professor and director of the Murphy Engine Research Lab at the University of Minnesota, where research has pivoted in recent years from a focus on combustion engines to encompass electric vehicle technology as well. While progress on more efficient combustion engines is “incremental” at best, electric vehicle battery research is expanding at lightning speed, he said, allowing electric vehicles to drive further on a single charge. “We’re seeing tremendous gains in battery density capacity,” Northrop said. “It’s not a matter of how much power the vehicle has, it’s a matter of how much range it has.”
A new material developed to repair roads, which is derived from by-products of the mining, is having some favorable results and may soon be commercialized. Larry Zanko, a senior research program manager for the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI), said in a recent interview with the Tribune Press that researchers there began working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation about three years ago on this project, and have since been modifying the formulation. Zanko said he believes the product being developed by NRRI can be very competitive price wise with products that are currently being used by maintenance crews.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth want to hit the road running with a patented repair method that could change the way transportation departments fix potholes and other pavement failures. The method, which has been in field testing for years, uses taconite-based byproducts and microwave technology to repair broken pavements, said Larry Zanko, a senior research fellow with UMD’s Natural Resources Research Institute. Compared with traditional hot-mix asphalt patches, benefits include lower costs, less pollution and more durable fixes, he said. Zanko discussed the technology at a meeting of the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies on Thursday. He hopes to roll out the technology on a larger scale within the next year, even as testing continues.
BioSig is far from the only company to launch or expand recently to take advantage of Mayo’s growing presence. Rochester represents the newest and fastest-growing regional gathering of peer companies, a phenomenon known to economists as industry clusters. Whether its food processing companies gravitating to Jenny-O and Hormel in southern Minnesota, or device-makers launching in the Twin Cities’ famous Medical Alley, there can be enormous advantages for companies locating near even staunch competitors, said Lee Munnich, a senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.... Identifying and building up existing industry clusters is a key strategy for economic development departments and professionals, he said.
Across Minnesota, cities large and small are scrambling to upgrade storm sewers, culverts, roadways and drainage ponds as they find themselves deluged by ever-more intense storms and flash flooding. With global temperatures on the rise, this decade is likely to be the wettest in Minnesota history, according to retired state climatologist and University professor Mark Seeley. All that water is overwhelming Minnesota’s patchwork of stormwater systems, a huge, aging network of tunnels, pipes and culverts — some of it more than 100 years old — that carries water away to ditches, rivers and lakes.
Assistant Professor and CTS Scholar Alireza Khani is asked about money-saving tips for drivers in this overview of driving-friendly U.S. cities.
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. She was the only woman in the group. Twenty-four of the 33 incidents of driver encroachment happened to her.... After Prof. Greg Lindsey shared the study results last week, he started hearing from women with their own stories of close calls, catcalls and hands that reached out of car windows to slap their rear ends as they biked by. The cycling gender gap was on Hennepin County planners’ minds as they teamed up with the university to study how drivers and cyclists behave around each other. Women are more likely than men to cite safety as a concern with biking, Lindsey noted, and the prospect of being crowded or slapped on the butt doesn’t make the exercise more appealing.
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. “It compares favorably to those who take transit,” said Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.
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. Although the Top 10 list primarily shows the cities with the highest overall employment, bike infrastructure can have a big impact on cities rankings, say the authors, Andrew Owen and Brendan Murphy.
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.... “Standard tractor-trailers weigh about 80,000 pounds fully loaded,” said Stephen Burks, an economics professor who leads the Truckers and Turnover Project at Morris, and a former truck driver himself. “If a tractor-trailer collides with a car, the car generally loses.”
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. Liao previously developed a signal that uses smartphone technology to send location and signal timing information to a pedestrian using a GPS signal, but he has found that GPS technology is not always reliable, which led him to work on the new system.
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. In a field experiment, we found that drivers were significantly more likely to encroach—i.e. to pass closer than three feet—on a female cyclists than on male cyclists. Our study illustrate the scope and pervasiveness of the gender gap in cycling, confirms female cyclists’ concerns about safety on the road, and underscore the need for greater investment in safer facilities like protected bike lanes.
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. So, it’s a good thing for Morris’s team, and for you, that in April the state legislature finally passed the Hands-Free Law. Come August 1, the bill makes it illegal to hold and use your cell phone while driving.
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. Andrew describes the evolution of the metric and how it has been applied.
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. Murphy Engine Laboratory in Minneapolis, has spent months working on this technology in the lab, but on that field in Morris, he watched the modified diesel tractor at work for the first time. He and his colleagues are confident the system will eventually be able to replace at least half of the diesel fuel that typically powers a tractor, cutting back on the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that have long been a byproduct of agricultural production.
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.
The students were among the participants in the inaugural Construction Career Day at the fairgrounds. MnDOT presented the event in partnership with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. About 125 metro area students in grades 8-12 attended the all-day event. It was designed to expose young men and women to career opportunities in construction, with a specific focus on transportation infrastructure. Gina Baas, associate director of engagement and education for the Center for Transportation Studies, said the Construction Career Day is unusual because of its emphasis on transportation.
How practical are electric vehicles, really, given limits on far how they can go on a single charge, especially in Minnesota’s bitter cold winters? The short answer is that cold temperatures do degrade electric vehicles’ performance. Electric vehicles perform at their peak in temperatures between 50 and 80 degrees, when the lithium-ion battery’s power can focus on propelling the vehicle down the road and not be diverted using energy to heat or cool the cabin. The vehicles perform just as well as their gas-powered counterparts when it comes to traversing through snow and ice, but the cold drains batteries and impacts how far motorists can drive before they need to recharge, said William Northrop, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota.
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have become popular by offering a convenient alternative to crowded public transportation and stressful city driving. But a new study conducted in San Francisco adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the services come with a significant downside: increased traffic congestion.... “When the cost of something decreases, people typically (perhaps always) do more of it,” Andrew Owen, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies in Minneapolis, who wasn’t involved in the new research, told NBC News MACH in an email.
Walter Q. Bear Banks, Jr., interviews Nichole Morris, director of the University of Minnesota HumanFIRST Lab and CTS Scholar, about pedestrian safety when dealing with motor vehicle traffic.
The Truckers & Turnover Project, led by Stephen Burks, with the University of Minnesota Morris, has earned the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies 2019 Robert C. Johns Research Partnership Award for researching commercial drivers and untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In the study, the research team identified that non-adherent drivers had a preventable crash-risk five times higher than those who treated their OSA. Burks answered questions on how programs for diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea correlate with preventable tractor-trailer collisions.
State Rep. Raymond Dehn has introduced a bill authorizing MnDOT to study phasing in a mileage tax, also known as a mileage-based user fee, as a replacement for traditional fuel taxes. It’s a way of charging people for using the roads. With the advent of hybrids and higher-mileage cars as well as electric vehicles it would give us a truer indication of the road use. Peak pricing becomes an option, as well as discounts for helping with congestion. "If you are collecting data it in a way that you can know when someone’s driving and where they’re driving, you can create incentives for them to drive at a different time of day or on a less congested road," Frank Douma of the Humphrey School told KARE. But he noted a mileage tax does raise more privacy concerns.
The recent American Coalition for Ethanol fly-in was the latest battle in a multimillion-dollar influence war between two behemoth interest groups — the corn industry and the petroleum industry. For scientists like Jason Hill, this is a conflict with no good outcome. The environmental damages caused by either gasoline or ethanol are each bad enough to warrant a new direction in renewable fuel policy, said Hill, a professor of bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota. "The best gallon of fuel is the gallon you never use," he said. If we have to drive, "the best, most cost-effective option is to reduce fuel use with efficiency. If we could improve mileage by one mile per gallon, we will have done as much for reducing gasoline use as producing the billions of gallons of ethanol we produce each year."
As a leading expert on pavement design and maintenance, the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Manik Barman has more than a passing interest in a topic that’s causing so much angst for local motorists: potholes. Barman, an assistant professor at UMD’s Swenson College of Science and Engineering, had a big hand in developing a 2017 manual for pothole repairs on asphalt pavements, and is currently researching ways to make pavements last longer.
Improved shared transportation options and expanded transit systems are coming to the Twin Cities, according to University of Minnesota researchers. While current legislative actions support the expansion of light rail and bus rapid-transit systems, the University's Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering is looking into the impact of shared transportation. A research team is working to improve efficiency of transit, especially connecting suburban regions. Alireza Khani, a University transportation researcher, said the team hopes to show the benefits of integrated stations — a more cost-effective plan that would connect mass transit and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft.
Researchers in northern Minnesota say they're closing in on what could be a new solution to a common problem on area roads and highways, especially at this time of year. Potholes. The team at the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute have been working for years on a new type of fill for the common driving hazard, said Larry Zanko, the senior research program manager. He added that their compound makes use of materials found in Minnesota's iron mining industry, including magnetite, one of the main iron ores.
Amid one of the worst pothole seasons for Duluth streets, researchers say an experimental patch mix using taconite tailings held up over the winter. Standing at the corner of Truck Center Drive and Chestnut Street Thursday morning, Larry Zanko, a senior minerals researcher with the University of Minnesota Duluth's Natural Resources Research Institute, kicked and poked at several of the test patches set last summer and fall. "Overall, I'm satisfied," Zanko said. "But I know that we can do better." [Related Duluth News Tribune opinion piece from March 23, 2019, featuring CTS scholar Manik Barman)
A long winter has led to a bumpy spring. Potholes can be found on roads all across the state. But researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth have come up with a longer-lasting method to patching up potholes and they're encouraged by recent results. Larry Zanko, senior research program manager at UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute, said the rapid patching material is made up of mostly taconite tailings. Zanko described it as "iron cement."
Faced with languishing ridership, Metro Transit is cleaning up its trains, adding more police on the light-rail lines and improving its technology to make riding the bus more reliable. In addition, the transit agency said its new plan to improve service quality includes investing in promising new bus routes and launching an anti-harassment campaign rewarding passengers who exhibit “positive behavior.” ... “Mass transit needs the mass to be successful,” said Yingling Fan, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “It’s a vicious cycle, if it’s underutilized then it’s underfunded. That’s why the choice rider is so important,” she said.
Duke University may have dealt the final blow to Durham’s $3-billion light rail plans when it refused to enter into mediation with transit leaders last week, citing a “lack of workable solutions.” But recent history in other cities with light rail lines near university research centers shows there is a simple workable solution to this problem. In Minneapolis and Seattle, for example, concerns raised by universities about the very same issues were overcome using a special vibration-absorbing construction add-on called a “floating slab.” As a result, the University of Washington and University of Minnesota communities enjoy huge benefits in terms of transit access
Arizona prosecutors said Tuesday that they had not found evidence to charge Uber with a crime in connection with an accident in which one of its autonomous cars hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe a year ago. The crash raised questions about the safety of the technology as well as the comprehensiveness of the rules governing it. Few such federal or state rules exist. “It’s not very well trod at all,” said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. “To my knowledge, there is not any sort of real bright-line statement about who’s liable when.”
The sharing economy is becoming mainstream with the anticipated stock listings from services such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, signs that the trend is gaining momentum and impacting multiple sectors. The IPOs suggest that the sharing economy is ready for prime time, said Saif Benjaafar, director of the University of Minnesota's Initiative on the Sharing Economy. Benjaafar noted that Uber and Lyft have piled up huge losses while Airbnb has been profitable, they revolve around the same concept. Yahoo News! version.
Frank Douma and Erin Petersen came to Fergus Falls Monday selling an idea for an idea. Representing the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the pair gave a power point presentation before members of the Fergus Falls City Council with the not-so-succinct title "Planning for an Autonomous Vehicle Demonstration."
News video from The Weather Channel, featuring Dan Gullickson of MnDOT on the uses and benefits of snow fences in Minnesota.
A recent study found that pedestrian safety is a critical but underrecognized issue on reservations, with residents who walk to get to their destinations at a greater risk of getting struck by a car than those living in other rural Minnesota communities. Kathy Quick, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and anthropologist Guillermo Narváez spent four years analyzing national transportation safety data and interviewing residents on four of the state’s 11 reservations — Leech Lake, Red Lake, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs. The study was conducted for the Roadway Safety Institute, a consortium of Midwestern universities that researches issues related to traffic safety. Nationally, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury for Indians under the age of 44 — a rate higher than any other ethnic or racial group in the United States. In Minnesota, the state’s Department of Public Safety said it only has limited data related to pedestrian crashes on reservations, so it wasn’t able to release specific statistics on the issue. Even so, Quick said, nationally, crashes on reservations are vastly underreported.
University researchers are using smartphone technology to automatically collect travel behavior data and provide recommendations for alternative transportation methods. They hope the app influences drivers to take more sustainable methods of transportation. "Our idea is that if we can shift people who drive cars towards autonomy transportation, such as biking, busing and walking, then potentially we can manage travel demand," said Yingling Fan, principal investigator for the research. The project, which began collecting data in 2018, received most of its funding from a $300,000 grant from the Metropolitan Council, according to the project's proposal. The project also received $75,000 from Metro Transit.
In October, the U received a three-year $1.75 million Smart and Connected Communities grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study the potential impact of driverless cars and trucks on communities. The U’s initiative is one of 13 nationwide to receive the award. The faculty involved in the AV project, nearly all of whom are supported by endowed chairs that give them the time and latitude to dive into such timely topics, come from the Center for Transportation Studies as well as the College of Design, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and CSE, bringing a range of perspectives. Interviewed: Tom Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center; Saif Benjaafar, director of the Initiative on the Sharing Economy; Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program; and Yingling Fan, a professor in the Humphrey School.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota want to know how people are going to interact with driverless automobiles. They have one of the most advanced simulators in the country to test how automation influences a driver’s behavior. The University recently got a couple of federal grants to study how the coming of autonomous vehicles is going to transform commutes and communities. Engineers at another U of M lab, are testing a sensor that’s being used to help guide automated car prototypes. Grad students that are on a career path to be the city planners of tomorrow are trying to figure out how communities are going to have to redesign themselves to tackle the transition to self-driving vehicles. Interviewed for the story: Nicole Morris, Director, HumanFirst Lab; Tom Fisher, Director, Minnesota Design Center; Ginny Crowson, Director of Research Administration, Center for Transportation Studies; and Max Donath, Director, Roadway Safety Institute.
After the crops are harvested and the snow falls on the southern Minnesota fields, there is little to stop it from blowing across the landscape and onto the road, where it forms drifts and icy patches. But by working with farmers, transportation planners have found what may be the most convenient way to block more snow from reaching roads: Just leave the corn up. Several rows of cornstalks can do a decent job as sentinels, acting as a living snow fence.... Gary Wyatt, a Mankato-based University of Minnesota Extension educator, said these volunteer groups can be an effective way to get farmers to participate, but finding volunteer groups has been a challenge.
Today we kick off our annual “Streetsies” competition, that time of year when where we look back at the year and remember the stories that really had an impact on urban transportation progress. Among those cited was St. Paul for using signs (right) to help encourage people to yield to pedestrians during an experiment led by University of Minnesota researcher Nicole Morris. The signs are intended to evoke social pressure for drivers to obey yielding laws. The concept comes from the field of “human factors psychology,” which Morris is trying to use to promote safe driving behavior.
Grad students at the University of Minnesota are imagining a day when Shakopee residents wake up every morning and order a driverless car for their morning commute or the residents of Belle Plaine get into cars that park and stop themselves at the grocery store. For this year’s group of Urban Planning students, this is no Jetsonian future, but one that may arrive by 2040. Professor Fernando Burga’s Land Use Planning class is taking a close look at Scott County’s future with connected and autonomous vehicles, known as CAVs.... On Friday, Burga’s class presented seven case studies, six of which are based in Scott County, to a crowd of Public Affairs and Urban Planning students and Scott County officials. Burga said the student’s work is cutting-edge, keeping pace with work currently being done by Minnesota’s Department of Transportation.
"The distance to the refinery and the distance to the distribution centers. Both refineries are located in the Twin Cities, so, you tend to see lower fuel prices,” said Jerry Zhao, an associate professor for the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.... When looking at gasoline prices, other factors involved range from population density to the amount of taxes. Regarding the latter, the federal excise tax on gasoline has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, while the Minnesota gas tax is at 28.5 cents per gallon. The state of Minnesota also has a requirement for gasoline to have 10 percent ethanol. Aside from those, U of M Center for Transportation Studies Professor Alfred Marcus said supply, demand and competition all play a part.
Now that construction of the $2 billion light-rail line has begun, that kind of one-seat public transit trip to the Capitol City, once unfathomable, isn’t so far-fetched.... Metro Transit estimates more than $1 billion in development has occurred near Southwest’s 16 stations, and more projects are likely now that ground has been broken for the line — an extension of the existing Green Line that begins in St. Paul. Passenger service is expected to begin in 2023.... Research from the University of Minnesota indicates development falls more quickly into place once public funding for a transit line is assured, according to Jason Cao, an associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Cao and researcher Dean Porter-Nelson studied development patterns along the existing Green Line light rail, which connects the downtowns of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joins us this week. Frank has been tracking self-driving vehicles for years. The technology for them is out in fields right now, Frank says, and MnDOT demonstrated self-driving buses last year already. We can expect more demonstrations, including in Greater Minnesota. But what about people with jobs as drivers right now?
This holiday shopping season, there’s a good chance you’ll be heading to one of the “-dales” – Rosedale Center, Southdale Center, Ridgedale Center. The names are unique to Minnesota. So, how did we end up with them? Good Question. Southdale came first in 1956, followed by what used to be Brookdale Center in 1962. Rosedale was the third in the family in 1969 and Ridgedale came last in 1974. Tom Fisher, a professor of urban design at the University of Minnesota, is quoted. He said the names are based both on geography, location and existing city names.
A University of Minnesota research team is working in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to carry out a project related to Minnesotans’ knowledge about and perceptions of snow control measures along state highways, and a small “invitation-only” event was held Tuesday at Crookston’s City Hall. U of M graduate student, Collin Motschke, and his advisor, Director of the Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management Dean Current, met with city leaders, local law enforcement, and area stakeholders.
In an attempt to combat winter road conditions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation teamed up with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management and Extension to expand the living snow fences program. The state-sponsored efforts place natural barriers, created by wildflowers, woody vegetation and plants some 100-200 feet from the side of highways to reduce snow blowing across highways. Dean Current, program director of the University's CINRAM, is quoted.
How does Minnesota’s gas tax compare to other states? Good Question. According to Minnesota’s constitution, the state’s tax on gasoline can only be used for roads and bridges. “Right now, the gas tax is the workhorse that we need to rely on to pay for our transportation system,” says Lee Munnich, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. “Part of the issue is that the public doesn’t really know how much it pays for the gas tax.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the national average for state gas tax is 28.6 cents per gallon. That’s almost exactly the same as Minnesota’s – 28.5 cents per gallon, which ranks the state right in the middle at 25th in the country... According to an analysis by Humphrey School professor Jerry Zhao, Minnesota’s gas tax pays for about 21 percent of Minnesota’s transportation revenue. The federal gas tax accounts for 17 percent, car tab fees at 14 percent, and car sales taxes at 8 percent. Local efforts (39 percent) make up the rest.
The University of Minnesota’s next vice president of research, slated to start next week, will face a challenging environment for funding. Chris Cramer will lead the Office of the Vice President for Research, which oversees the University’s $900 million of research spending. Cramer said the University remains a prime location for research. The University has a budget among the top 10 public research institutions in the country, according to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey. Research awards from business and industry, which make up 11 percent of external funding, have increased 76 percent since fiscal year 2013. Cramer said he hopes to continue working with business and industry partners for research funding. Additionally, Cramer said there's an opportunity for more collaborative and interdisciplinary research on campus. The OVPR oversees several interdisciplinary programs, such as the Center for Transportation Studies and the Institute on the Environment.
A pedestrian safety study at the University of Minnesota is trying to improve how often drivers stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. With 28 pedestrians killed in Minnesota so far in 2018, the HumanFIRST Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical Engineering aims to bring awareness to pedestrian injuries and fatalities through education, engineering and enforcement. Their project, which was overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will finish data collection this month on the percentage of cars that stopped when pedestrians used crosswalks. Nichole Morris, the project’s principal investigator and director of HumanFIRST Lab, is quoted.
The latest research updates for an annual study overseen by the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota estimates the impact of traffic congestion on access to jobs indicates that Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are now the top three U.S. metropolitan areas for “loss in job accessibility” due to traffic congestion. This year’s report – Access Across America: Auto 2017 – is based on data from 2017 and ranks access to jobs by car for the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. Cars, trucks, and other private motor vehicles are used for an estimated 86 percent of U.S. commuting trips, making it the most widely used commute mode. The rankings focus on accessibility – a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems – and factors it against how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time, explained Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory, in a statement.
Traffic fatalities have been cut nearly in half since the Toward Zero Deaths initiative was founded 15 years ago. But state law enforcement and transportation officials leaders said Tuesday they are going to need to be more creative to make Minnesota's roads even safer. “We've had a great 15 years,” said Stephanie Malinoff, an executive with the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. “We're seeing that (road deaths) trend line moving in the right direction. But we're starting to see that trend line plateau.” The center is hosting its annual Minnesota Toward Zero Death conference Tuesday and Wednesday in Mankato. The conference brings together members of law enforcement, emergency medical responders, road engineers, educators and others to share strategies for preventing fatal and serious injury crashes on Minnesota roads.
Unlike ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft, where customers are driven to their destinations, car-sharing involves patrons driving themselves to wherever they need to go. Hourcar’s model — for now — involves customers picking up a vehicle at one of its 50 hubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and returning it to the same place.... Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and CTS Scholar, said car-sharing “only works in certain places. We don’t have the density of Boston or [Washington, D.C.] or San Francisco.”
A ground-breaking experiment in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows a shocking pattern of dangerous and aggressive behavior towards pedestrians. But also how solvable the problem is given the right attention and policies. For most of 2018, researcher Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has been measuring driver yielding at crosswalks around St. Paul.
The University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul are teaming up to try to change drivers' behaviors. The St. Paul Police Department has been working on the study at eight treated intersections since May.... Nichole Morris with the University of Minnesota said initially some of the intersections had as few as 18 percent of drivers stopping for walkers. Now the average is 75 percent.
The Destination Medical Center initiative in Rochester has been chosen to participate in a University of Minnesota research project concerning the use of autonomous vehicles. The National Science Foundation grant will provide the U of M with $1.75 million over three years to work toward the possible development of what’s termed a “smart cloud commuting system.” Proponents envision community’s using large pools of shared autonomous vehicles to provide inexpensive transportation services to everyone. Initiative on the Sharing Economy director Saif Benjaafar is quoted.
University of Minnesota researchers received a $1.75 million grant to continue studying the future impact of self-driving vehicles. The 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation will research connecting communities with self-driving cars through shared data and will recommend guidelines for future transportation projects. Researchers will partner with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit which are also studying the potential effects of self-driving vehicles in Minnesota.
Urban design experts at the University of Minnesota are redrawing what city blocks could look like in a world of driverless vehicles. Roads of the future will likely be narrower, greener and easier to share with pedestrians once autonomous vehicles evolve from the drawing boards and testing roads of automakers and tech firms to widespread use on city streets. The move to wrest the controls from human drivers is gaining traction. The U has just received a $1.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation to further study autonomous vehicles and the future of transportation services. State agencies are testing the technology, and Minneapolis and St. Paul city officials are factoring in the potential impact of autonomous vehicles as they draft plans to guide development over the next two decades. Thomas Fisher, director of the Minnesota Design Center and one of the lead researchers for the Shared Autonomous Vehicle Street Design study, is quoted.
Duluth streets are known for their potholes, but now a new product that uses a byproduct of taconite mining is being tested to patch city streets. Almanac North interviews UMD Natural Resources Research Institute senior researcher Larry Zanko and Duluth Public Works director Jim Benning. (Segment runs 08:40 to 15:10)
The University of Minnesota announced today that it has received a $1.75 million grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the NSF's Smart & Connected Communities grant program. The University of Minnesota’s project is one of only 13 projects chosen by NSF nationwide. The grant, entitled Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP), supports fundamental research on a critical challenge facing many cities and communities—how to leverage the emergence of self-driving vehicles, also known as autonomous vehicles, to rethink and redesign future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits. Initiative on the Sharing Economy director Saif Benjaafar and participating faculty member Tom Fisher are quoted
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced approximately $22.6 million in Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) awards, supporting 13 projects involving researchers at 35 institutions nationwide, including the University of Minnesota. NSF's S&CC program supports researchers working with communities and residents to identify and define challenges they face and designing research projects to help address them. Teams work together with community partners to conduct use-inspired research that spans technological and social dimensions, and to test innovations in "living labs" within their communities. More about the University of Minnesota project.
Minnesota state law requires motorists to give 3 or more feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist, and the good news is a large majority of drivers obey. In collaboration with Hennepin County, University of Minnesota graduate students looked at how much room drivers allow when passing bicyclists and how often they pass within fewer than 3 feet. Researchers found that the type of bicycle lane dictated how much space motorists gave. The study confirms that road design and traffic planning decisions affect how vehicles and cyclists interact, said Greg Lindsey, professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He said the study can help planners installing bike lanes determine the right type of design for the road and whether it’s worth the investment to reduce encroachments.
Using new technology that can measure the distance between bicycles and passing vehicles, University of Minnesota graduate students studied the vehicle passing distance on various types of bicycle infrastructure within Hennepin County. A Minnesota statute requires a minimum vehicle passing distance of 3 feet. Anything less than that is defined as “encroachment,” and can increase the likelihood of a cyclist being injured. Within the nearly 3,000 passing events recorded, researchers Josh Pansch, Isaac Evans and Lila Singer-Berk found varied results depending on road type, vehicle type and even the gender of the cyclist.
The concept is called “backhauling” and it’s been spearheaded by an alliance of the University of Minnesota, a garlic farm and grocery store in Big Stone County, and two grocery wholesalers as part of an experiment aimed at giving local farmers a way to get their produce onto grocery store shelves. “After that last stop, that truck is empty and it’s basically hauling air coming home,” said Duke Harrison, head of transportation and warehousing for Mason Brothers, a grocery distributor in Wadena. “The idea of the project is, how do you utilize an existing freight network without having that high freight cost, because the transportation costs have been on the rise.” Small-town grocery stores are “the end of the global food supply” chain and it’s not always pretty, said Kathy Draeger, who lives a few miles east of Clinton and is director of Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships at the University of Minnesota. Grocery stores receive produce after many miles of travel and it’s rarely in the best condition
Road design and infrastructure are the biggest factors in cycling safety on roads shared by cars and bikes, a University of Minnesota study found. The study was published in ITE Journal, a monthly publication by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Research by UM graduate students Josh Pansch, Isaac Evans and Lila Singer-Berk looked at factors that affect distances cars come within bikes when passing. “The results of this study provide evidence that investments in these types of bike facilities may reduce potentially risky interactions between vehicles and cyclists,” said Greg Lindsey, Transportation Studies Roadway Safety Institute scholar.
A new study by the University of Minnesota finds that drivers are less likely to pass cyclists at a dangerously close distance if there’s a bike lane — particularly if the bike lane is physical separated from traffic. “[It’s] evidence that investments in these types of bike facilities may reduce potentially risky interactions between vehicles and cyclists,” said Greg Lindsey, the University of Minnesota professor who co-authored the study.
Metro Hartford ranked in the Top 10 list of most-improved job access by transit in the country, compiled by the University of Minnesota's Accessibility Observatory.
The Gopher RideShare program, which was launched this fall by the Parking and Transportation Services, aims to reduce car congestion, improve air quality, decrease wear and tear on the road and allow individuals to save money by exploring various transportation options.... Transportation methods such as biking and walking aren't always an option for commuters, resulting in more cars flocking to campus and congestion. “You can always tell when classes start because parking becomes almost unavailable,” said Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy program with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Spaces devoted to parking lots and parking garages take away the opportunity for additional land uses, Douma said.
19. Driving for them is more dangerous than ever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, six teenagers die each day, on average, from auto accidents in the U.S. alone. In fact, University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris once warned, “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death, the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”
High-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes are one of the many tools available to transportation agencies to help them manage traffic demand on congested urban freeways. When managing HOT lanes, roadway engineers must decide whether to allow open HOT-lane access at most points or to close access and only permit drivers to enter or exit these lanes from selected ramps and access points. Researchers at the University of Minnesota Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) have developed a new software tool that will help the Minnesota Department of Transportation determine safe access points for HOT lanes. “While open access can greatly increase mobility by permitting vehicles to access the HOT lane as quickly as they are able after entering the freeway, there may be some safety concerns with allowing lane changes at any point,” explained John Hourdos, MTO director.
In an effort to reduce dangerous right-angle crashes at rural intersections, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has deployed dynamic warning signs at approximately 52 sites throughout the state. Using sensor technologies, these signs provide real-time traffic information to motorists at non-signalized intersections where cross traffic does not stop, warning drivers on the minor road when it is unsafe to enter the intersection. However, a number of sign-related complaints have been received from local road users. To address this issue, a team of University of Minnesota human factors researchers studied the current dynamic warning sign to identify what features or layouts may be problematic and propose safe and efficient alternatives. “We directed special emphasis to the most vulnerable driver populations, such as older drivers and novice teenage drivers,” says Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory and the study’s principal investigator. The study was sponsored by MnDOT.
Today I’m bringing you our 118th episode, a conversation with Dr. Nichole Morris. Dr. Morris is the director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, and is a researcher and scholar who focuses on the intersection of transportation, technology, and behavior. We sat down a few months ago in her office at the University of Minnesota campus to discuss her ongoing research project about pedestrian crossings and driver behavior and street safety in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The economy is booming. The stock market is frothy. Corporations are earning record profits. Yet workers are getting minuscule raises that don’t make up for the rising cost of living. What gives? To understand how this disparity came to be, consider the plight of long-distance truck drivers. They spend weeks away from home, crisscrossing the country to keep store shelves stocked and the economy humming. The trucking industry complains it can’t find enough drivers. And yet the value of drivers’ paychecks just keeps falling over time. ... Because driver pay is low, trucking companies in the truckload segment where drivers like Mr. Oliveira work have a turnover rate of about 95 percent, said Stephen Burks, a professor of economics at the University of Minnesota at Morris. (Mr. Burks also once worked as a truck driver.) Fear of recessions — and being stuck with high labor costs — make many companies reluctant to raise wages even if doing so would reduce turnover.
The number of people car pooling is dropping significantly, even though transportation planners have given car poolers tons of breaks, such as the $20 a month charge to park at Minneapolis’ ABC ramps, the Star Tribune reported Thursday. That’s compared to the near $150 a month for people driving alone. ... “People wish they didn’t have to drive alone,” said Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “More than 60 percent of people who drive alone say that it is not their ideal mode.”
According to St. Paul police, over the past five years, 835 pedestrians were struck by vehicles. Those incidents resulted in 17 fatalities and injuries to 747 people, including many children. In addition to stepped up enforcement and placing clearly marked crosswalk signage, police are turning to science. Nichole Morris directs the HumanFIRST Lab at the University of Minnesota. The lab’s researchers measure compliance at 16 crosswalks across the city. That data then gets placed on blue signs to show other drivers how many of them are obeying the law and yielding right-of-way to pedestrians. It is the principle of “social norming.”
A University of Minnesota research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies compares the autonomous technology to mobile phones. “In the '80s, we had car phones,” said Frank Douma, director of state and local policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “They could only be used in the vehicle. Then the phone's range extended to more roads and eventually to no roads. Today, service is ubiquitous. I expect the demand for driverless vehicles will increase, as well. It's available in wider and wider areas.” ... The U of M program director was invited by the White Bear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce to discuss the vehicles and the feasibility of driverless taxi service in the city's downtown. He spoke to chamber members Aug. 1 in Key's conference room.
Despite growing congestion and some deep discounts for carpool parking, downtown Minneapolis commuters are not giving up their solo drives to work. The number of carpoolers has declined at the three large city-run ABC Ramps near Target Center — despite the $20-a-month rate for carpoolers using Interstates 394 or 94 from the northern suburbs. In 2016, just 804 registered carpools used the ABC Ramps that were built 30 years ago to reduce congestion on the freeways and downtown streets. That’s down from 1,253 in 2005 when carpooling hit its peak. Without change, getting around downtown will become increasingly more difficult, said Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The school this week presented results of an 18-month parking study commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
A recent study of remnants from the demolished Highway 169 Nine Mile Creek Bridge in Edina offers proof that an unusual, low-cost repair method used five years ago on the crossing is all that it’s cracked up to be. Researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies and the Minnesota Department of Transportation tested the strength of the bridge’s girders that were repaired with the unconventional method, which sprays concrete onto the repair surface at high velocity and doesn’t require removal of the bridge deck. The result: The repaired girders were “at least as strong” as other beams on the bridge that were deemed to be in good condition, according to the report, which was featured in the Center for Transportation Studies’ July newsletter. “This innovative method works remarkably well,” Carol Shield, a U of M engineering professor and principal investigator in the case, said in a technical summary of the report. “The amount of damage the crews repaired was pretty extensive. In the end, the strength of the repaired damaged girders was slightly more than the strength of the undamaged girders.”
St. Paul has posted new signs at busy intersections without stoplights to remind drivers to stop for pedestrians. According to Minnesota law, cars are required to stop at marked and unmarked crossings when pedestrians are trying to cross. The signs, developed by the HumanFIRST lab at the University of Minnesota, are a reminder of that. They show compliance rates for drivers yielding to pedestrians, comparing last month's record to that of the current month. Nichole Morris, a director at HumanFIRST lab, said that the signs were designed to draw drivers' attention, then inspire them to give pedestrians their right of way.
A University of Minnesota study is taking a closer look at the impact of the ABC Ramps in downtown Minneapolis and how Minnesotans may use them in the decades to come. The ramps were meant to reduce downtown congestion when they were constructed in 1992, but since that time a lot has changed. Researcher Frank Douma said nearly half of the trips coming into downtown start outside of the I-394 corridor. He also said demand for single occupant vehicle parking has increased, while demand for carpool parking has decreased. Douma said it may be time to tweak how the ramps are laid out, making more room for shared vehicles, electric vehicles or bikes.
Drivers in St. Paul need to do a better job stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, and researchers hope blue signs showing the percentage who actually stop will provide the motivation needed to improve. Last fall, University of Minnesota researchers found a woeful 31 percent of drivers citywide yielded to people on foot. Since the signs along eight heavily traveled corridors went up last month, compliance with the law that requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk — marked or unmarked — has risen to about the 45 percent. One week, observations showed that 52 percent of drivers stopped, the highest so far. Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, has sent team members to 16 of St. Paul’s “high-risk” intersections twice a week this summer and had them cross the street 20 times. Team members counted the number of vehicles that stopped, passed or braked hard. The results from the week’s 640 crossings are posted on the signs as a friendly reminder for drivers to look out for the most vulnerable users of the road, she said.
When it comes to getting to work using public transportation, Kansas City is nowhere near the top. A recent study ranked the metro area 40th in the nation for the amount of jobs reachable by public transit. It did note, however, that Kansas City displayed more growth in accessibility than any other city last year. We discussed the transportation and employment measures Kansas City has improved upon, and the steps the metro can take to make more workplaces accessible by bus and streetcar. Participant: Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies.
One of the legacies of the 35W bridge collapse, which occured 11 years ago this week, was a focus on the safety of the nation’s bridges. That includes the bridge that replaced the structure that collapsed. It’s now monitored by 500 sensors. Those insights from the data are helping them better understand how bridges work and they're making them safer. Underneath the vehicles that cross the 35W St. Anthony Falls bridge every day are these sensors. Think of them as automated inspectors. “There are emails that go out every week from the bridge that say the monitoring system is operational,” said Lauren Linderman, of the University of Minnesota’s Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering Department.
In a clash of old and new industries, Wisconsin frac sand producers say their business is threatened by a handful of railroads operating under outdated regulations. Wisconsin produces about a third of the nation’s supply of sand used to extract natural gas and oil through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” ... Tension between railroads and their customers is nothing new. Frank Douma, a transportation researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the current clash can be traced to Hunter Harrison, the late executive who turned around three railroads and established new benchmarks for lower operating costs.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation believes they can save Minnesotans time and money with an innovative method to repair bridges. Bridges in the state take beating from vehicle traffic and corrosive road salt. That's where MnDOT engineers like Paul Pilarski come in. [University of Minnesota MAST Lab video footage and research featured.]
The Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota has put together a report on transit accessibility in 49 of the most populated US metro areas since 2015. The 2017 report released late last month uses the same methodology to look at how many jobs are accessible by transit in a specific time period.
You may have noticed signs like the one above appearing near crosswalks on St. Paul streets, equal parts shaming drivers for not stopping for pedestrians, and challenging them to do better. It's the work of the University of Minnesota's HumanFIRST Lab, which is working with the City of Saint Paul on the "Stop For Me" pedestrian safety campaign it started back in April. As HumanFIRST director Nichole Morris explains on Twitter, her team has been compiling the statistics by crossing 16 crosswalks in the city 20 times, twice a week.
John talked to U of M researcher Frank Douma about the scooters that have shown up in downtown Minneapolis and their impact on the transit economy.
“Our goal was to provide a scientific assessment of pothole repair materials and practices,” said University of Minnesota professor Mihai Marasteanu, the lead researcher. Project sponsors were the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota just completed a study on gentrification in the Twin Cities. Professor Ed Goetz says the focus was primarily conducted on neighborhoods that were vulnerable to gentrification.
That's according to a new study out of the University of Minnesota's Accessibility Observatory, which reviewed transit data from 49 metropolitan areas across the country. The goal was to evaluate each region's accessibility to jobs by transit and walking.
"New York City has the highest job accessibility by transit, with 31% of the city’s commutes being made by transit," reports Jason Plautz, sharing the findings of a new study by the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.
A new report says the Queen City is in the top 10 when it comes to annual growth in the number of jobs accessible by transit, though it trails behind many of the nation's largest metro areas in overall accessibility to work via transit.
The university research team has been publishing the “Access Across America” index since 2013. Here’s a look at this year’s “most improved cities”:
Twin Cities transit riders can reach more than 18,000 jobs within a half-hour when traveling by bus or train, up 7 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to study results recently released by the University of Minnesota.
Twin Cities transit riders can reach more than 18,000 jobs within a half-hour when traveling by bus or train, up 7 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to study results recently released by the University of Minnesota.
Transit accessibility to jobs increased in Cincinnati by 6.78 percent last year, according to the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory report. But that improvement is just a start for a region where most jobs aren’t accessible by public transit at all.
In the not-so-good-news category this morning, Orlando is one of the worst metropolitan areas for commuting on transit, according to a study released last week by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
Tampa Bay is one of the worst metropolitan areas for commuting on transit, according to a study released last week by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
A new report says Cincinnati is in the top 10 when it comes to growth in the number of jobs accessible by transit, but the city still lags behind the Midwestern cities it competes with to land companies and works.
The work commute in Kansas City is getting easier, according to a new study by University of Minnesota researchers.
“This tool is calibrated for the Twin Cities. It takes real-time data and diagrams each location separately for lane changes and reaction time. It took theoretical ideas and made them usable,” said John Hourdos, Director, Minnesota Traffic Observatory, University of Minnesota.
Study: KC's job accessibility by transit growing faster than in San Francisco, Austin
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan...
A University of Minnesota study recently found St. Paul drivers are stopping for more pedestrians at non-signaled crosswalks.
My colleagues at the University of Minnesota just released Access Across America: Transit 2017. The time series here is a big deal, it is now possible to look at change at accessibility systematically from a national perspective, and compare cities. From the page: MOST U.S. METROS INCREASE ACCESS TO JOBS BY TRANSIT
The new study’s broad scope offers climate scientists and public officials valuable insight into metropolises for which local emissions data is sparse or nonexistent, such as Tehran, says Anu Ramaswami, an environmental engineer at the University of Minnesota who was not involved in the new research.
“All of these factors are critical for understanding people’s travel choices,” Fan says. “Daynamica gives us the best of both worlds: It captures many more dimensions of travel behavior data than either GPS sensing or travel surveys can do alone.”
“A number of people moved to other mobile home parks — those were the ones lucky enough to have manufactured homes that could be moved. Other folks, families have split up and people have moved away from the region or moved out of the Twin Cities. Other people went through periods of homelessness afterwards, so there’s a wide range of experiences,” he said.
“Traditionally there are two ways to do this: with either static signage or with dynamic warning signs,” says Brian Davis, a research fellow in the U of M’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
“The information is not even there,” Zhao said. “The country has not even paid sufficient attention to see how much of a problem we have. The gap is big — we don’t know how big it is.”
Lawns need about an inch of water each week, according to Sam Bauer, a turf grass specialist at the U.
Every other day a pedestrian or cyclist is struck by a vehicle in St. Paul, and every other month someone dies. Those statistics, based on averages provided by St. Paul Police, are exactly why an enforcement effort called "Stop for Me" is happening across the city right now. In what has become an annual effort, police officers are targeting different intersections this spring to identify drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. This year, the effort is bolstered by research at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The HumanFIRST Laboratory has been studying 16 different intersections across the city twice a week, and they are still finding many drivers still simply don't stop for pedestrians. "It was a little disappointing because I live in St Paul and I have a lot of pride in the city, but only about 3 in 10 cars stopped for us," said Nichole Morris, Director of the HumanFIRST Lab.
The Southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths workshop was the 14th annual event.
A 12-passenger autonomous bus traveled on a pre-mapped route on the Washington Avenue Bridge at the University of Minnesota Monday, allowing passengers to experience self-driving technology. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been studying this autonomous bus since December to see how the vehicle responds to winter weather and to different locations, like a college campus. ... Frank Douma, the University’s director of the state and local policy program, said the technology could make roads safer.
An overwhelming majority of drivers apparently have missed the memo that state law requires them to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.University of Minnesota researchers crossed St. Paul streets at “high-risk” intersections more than 1,500 times last fall as part of an ongoing study to track driver behavior at crosswalks with pedestrians present. The results were abysmal. Just 31 percent of drivers yielded to those on foot. ... Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory in the University of Minnesota’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, sent teams of researchers to eight high-risk intersections without stoplights. One researcher crossed the street while a second made note of drivers’ reactions. Morris found just 3 in 10 motorists actually stopped.
Research has shown that half of the deaths of roadway work-zone workers are caused by vehicles intruding into the zone. Addressing the nature of these intrusions is an important step for ensuring a safe work environment for crews. But few states have had an explicit method for systematically collecting this work-zone intrusion data. That’s why Nichole Morris of the University of Minnesota and Todd Haglin of the Minnesota Department of Transportation have led a safety-based project to complete the Work Zone Intrusion Report Interface Design. It’s an efficient, comprehensive and user-friendly reporting system for intrusions in work zones. “This work is critical to improving the safety of work zones by taking a data-driven approach to mitigate the contributing factors of intrusions,” explains Morris, the project’s principal investigator. She’s a research scholar for the University’s Center for Transportation Studies and director of the University’s HumanFIRST Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, as well as an adjunct professor.
A MnDOT program encouraging standing corn rows along rural highways in Minnesota is making those highways safer in the winter. For example, farmers who joined together to keep 4.5 miles of standing corn rows along Highway 169 just south of Belle Plaine found that the corn kept at least four feet of snow off the road and ditches this winter. MnDOT has sponsored several U of M research studies into snow control solutions like standing corn rows, including a cost-benefit calculator to help MnDOT calculate the ROI for various snow-control solutions. Blowing Snow Control Tools website
Last week Gov. Mark Dayton created a 15-member advisory council to study how driverless cars will affect Minnesota. This technology will affect not just drivers, but also the way cities are designed, according to Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In an age of driverless cars, he predicts, cities will become more walkable, parking lots and ramps will be replaced with residential buildings and car ownership itself could become a thing of the past. MPR host Mike Mulcahy spoke about the future of cars and cities with Douma, MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle and transportation consultant Mary Smith of Walker Consultants.
"Technology has emerged in the last couple of years, including blockchain and cryptocurrencies, that could in principle take the platform out of the business of payment processing and disbursement and enable peer-to-peer payments," said Saif Benjaafar, director of the Initiative on the Sharing Economy at the University of Minnesota.
From police to public works and in neighborhoods all over St. Paul, pedestrian safety is getting attention. It will increase as the year goes on, and that’s good. ... Behind the attention from city government is research funded by MnDOT and conducted by the University of Minnesota. An initial phase — begun last fall and providing baseline data from thousands of crossings at study sites around town — sheds some light on the state of pedestrian safety in St. Paul. It involved researchers — one person observing and another serving as a “stage” pedestrian — measuring yielding rates in the city. “On average, we have a sense that pedestrian yielding in St. Paul is generally pretty low,” explains Nichole Morris, a research scholar at the university’s Center for Transportation Studies.
Each winter, state departments of transportation work to improve safety and efficiency on their highways while mitigating environmental impacts. In particular, a growing effort targets the negative effects of chlorides from salt use. However, since salt remains so cost-effective it continues as a staple in winter maintenance efforts, along with fleets of snowplows. Throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, though, various strategies and technologies help make the most of available resources. Minnesota’s Living Snow Fences program, including University of Minnesota research, is featured.
To make decisions regarding mass transportation, road conditions and construction, and traffic routes, metropolitan areas use data regarding the travel habits of their inhabitants. Up until now, data in this field has been hard to get and slowly produced, but researchers from the University of Minnesota have broken through with a smartphone application that conveniently and cost-effectively collects this data. Daynamica is a geo-location mobile survey tool designed to log activities and trips of consumers in metropolitan areas using various forms of transportation. Interactions with the smartphone app make it “smarter,” and data is collected without surveys or extra gadgets, according to a pamphlet put together by the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization. ... The U of M research group includes Associate Professor Yingling Fan, Assistant Professor Julian Wolfson, and Professor Gediminas Adomavicius, according to Ghere. Computer science students Jie Kang and Yash Khandelwal also contributed to the Daynamica project.
Mark Seeley is fascinated by anything to do with the weather. As a University of Minnesota professor and Extension Service climatologist, he has become the go-to source. Asked what he’s proudest of from his 40 years at the U, Seeley lists three things. Among them, what he calls “living snow fences,” strategically placed areas of mixed perennial vegetation that interrupt wind flow and prevent drifts from forming on highways. “Road engineers are still using them,” he said. “Anytime you produce something that is still being used 20 years later, that makes you feel good.”
A new report released Wednesday suggests traffic could move at faster speeds in the I-405 toll lanes if the state charged higher rates in the most congested periods of the daily commutes. It recommends lifting the cap on the maximum toll, which now sits at $10, and charging by segment instead of letting drivers lock in a single toll rate for the entire 17-mile corridor between Lynnwood and Bellevue. And it says the state should fix the math used to set rates so higher tolls are charged sooner to more closely match actual traffic conditions. The study was produced by the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The draft will be presented to the Joint Transportation Committee of House and Senate lawmakers Thursday morning with the final version due to the Legislature in January. (The Seattle Times also reported on this story.)
The average worker in the Twin Cities can reach nearly 17,000 jobs within a half-hour when traveling by transit. The metro area's ranking, 13th in the nation, declined 1.6 percent over the past year in annually updated research released this week from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota. The study provides a fascinating glimpse into how transit connects people to their jobs nationwide. "Transit is only half of the picture," explained Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory. "The other half of the equation is where are the jobs and where are the workers."
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
A new University of Minnesota report says that the number of jobs in Greater Cincinnati accessible by transit increased by the highest rate in the nation in 2016, partly because of the opening of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar, according report author Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota are trying to improve the energy efficiency of delivery vehicles. In September, the UMN Thomas E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory announced it had been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the NEXTCAR Program of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. UMN NEXTCAR researchers have partnered with UPS and electric vehicle manufacturing company Workhorse Group Inc. to develop technology to improve the fuel efficiency of cloud-connected delivery vehicles. "We're trying to improve the efficiency of UPS hybrid electric delivery vehicles by 20 percent," said Will Northrop, associate professor and director of the T.E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory.
A rite of late autumn in the Twin Cities involves hundreds of cheery green Nice Ride Minnesota bikes being gathered up and packed away for winter storage. But a big change is in the works for bike-sharing here, and it may make its debut as soon as next spring. Instead of pedaling a Nice Ride bike from station to station, cyclists will use smartphone apps to locate and rent "dockless bikes" anywhere and leave them locked wherever they please. At least that’s the theory. The reality could be a bit different.... "Any time you have innovation like this, it raises questions about the right balance between community control and laissez-faire," said Greg Lindsey, a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. "This tension is definitely playing out." [This story also appeared in Governing on November 7, 2017]
As rulemaking has been withdrawn, stakeholder conversation turns to the financial arguments surrounding the trucking industry’s incentives to voluntarily undergo systematic OSA screening, testing, and treatment.... Michael Trufant, business unit manager of industrial markets at North Carolina-based Aeroflow Healthcare, says, "Looking at the facts, we believe if a driver suffers from untreated sleep apnea, treatment can be life changing." He cites a 2016 University of Minnesota study authored by Stephen Burks that found drivers with sleep apnea have a fivefold greater risk of serious preventable crashes. "We believe that a sleep deprived driver is an unsafe driver," Trufant says.
In the U.S., women have historically had less access to cars, but their traditional, gendered family roles have increased their share of household-related trips—think daycare pickup, grocery shopping, and the like. The mismatch between women’s mobility constraints and burdens has, in turn, created significant restrictions in women’s labor market choices. As a result, employed women’s work commute trips were, for decades, shorter in both distance and time than those of employed men. (Author: Yingling Fan, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota)
Congress doesn’t have a reputation for moving fast. On complex topics like health care and taxes, it can take years before lawmakers pass substantive legislation — if they pass any at all. This fall, however, Congress has moved uncharacteristically quickly to advance legislation governing new technology that is moving quickly: self-driving vehicles.... According to Frank Douma, a researcher at the University of Minnesota who studies automated vehicle issues, “the federal government always regulates the hardware, and the state regulates the driver, the human. That becomes tricky when you’re looking at the car increasingly becoming the driver.”
A study by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota led by Humphrey School professor Jason Cao found telecommuting increased travel for one-worker households, especially for non-work related trips. Other research indicates that when two drivers in a household share a single vehicle, telecommuting merely frees up the vehicle for the other person.
Urbanization might be the trend for much of the population, but not everyone craves the bright lights and crowded spaces of the big metropolis. For those who appreciate more wiggle room, fewer degrees of separation and shorter commutes, small-city life can be tough to beat. And those are just a few of its advantages. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is interviewed as an expert.
University of Minnesota students are turning to short-term rental services like Airbnb to ease living expenses and tuition costs. Student “hosts” say the service accommodates their packed schedules. But recent regulations passed by the Minneapolis City Council could complicate business. “Cash-strapped” college students facing steep housing and tuition costs can recoup some of their money by leasing an extra room, said Saif Benjaafar, a U professor in industrial and systems engineering who heads the school’s initiative on the sharing economy.
University of Minnesota researchers conducted a study to determine if Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) messages could be an effective way to get drivers to pay attention to hazards and workers in roadway work zones... “When we started this project, we saw a potential for drivers to become more aware and responsive to hazards within the work-zone by presenting the information directly to them through in-vehicle messaging technologies,” says Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, who led the project.
“I see the acquisition of TaskRabbit by Ikea as part of a broader trend, where firms enhance the value to their customers by offering additional services, with these services provided by a third party,” said Saif Benjaafar, director of the University of Minnesota’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy.
For a generation, the car has been reviled by city planners, greens and not too few commuters. In the past decade, some boldly predicted the onset of “peak car” and an auto-free future which would be dominated by new developments built around transit. Yet “peak car,” like the linked concept of “peak oil” has failed to materialize.... Overall, 90 percent of Americans get to work in cars. Access to jobs represents a key factor. University of Minnesota research shows that the average employee in 49 of the nation’s 52 major metropolitan areas can reach barely 1 percent of the jobs in the area by transit within 30 minutes while cars offer upwards of 70 times more access. This practical concern does much to explain why up to 76 percent of all work trips remain people driving alone.
As cycling becomes a more and more popular mode of green transportation in cities such from Portland to San Francisco, it’s safe to say that comparatively vulnerable cyclists can use all the help they can get as they seek to share the roads with SUVs and 18-wheelers. A team currently working at the University of Minnesota hopes to create a much-needed warning system to protect bicycles from motor vehicles, providing a respectful and safe transportation environment. Rajesh Rajamani, a professor of mechanical engineering at the school, says just as some cars have collision-prevention systems, there isn’t a reason why there can’t be a corresponding one for bikes.
There's little question that the country's infrastructure needs more investment, and its bridges are no exception. But successfully implementing the necessary monitoring, repairs and other upgrades requires more than money.... In Minnesota, engineers are looking at the performance of an existing structure, the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge replacement bridge. The structure was completed in September 2008, a little more than a year after the deadly collapse of its predecessor. Part of the new span’s purpose — in addition to being a Mississippi River crossing within the Twin Cities area — is to act as a "living, breathing" research and development tool to improve bridge construction and performance going forward, said Lauren Linderman, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, who focuses on cyber-physical engineering systems.
Twin Cities traffic congestion has been getting worse in recent years, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) labeling more than 23 percent of the metro area’s highways as congested. This could be a big problem in upcoming years, as that lack of free travel typically negatively impacts an area’s economy. “Traffic congestion is going to be a barrier for economic development because it creates friction among activities. It’s going to harm the economy,” Professor Jason Cao told Alpha News. “On the other hand, traffic congestion is an indicator of business activity in itself.” Cao is a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He specializes in urban planning, transportation planning, and sustainable development. Cao noted that in weaker economies, traffic congestion on the whole decreases.
A group of Minnesotans from government, tech and academia peered into the future of our roadways Friday at a self-driving car symposium — of sorts.... A recent University of Minnesota report estimated that fully autonomous, “Level 4” cars could hit the market by 2025.... University of Minnesota researcher Frank Douma, who studies self-driving cars, was more bullish on solving the wintry problem. "Half the country gets snow," he said. "There’s not going to be a market for these vehicles if they don’t figure it out."
The floods of Houston and Mumbai represent a human tragedy in terms of the number of people who died or who have become homeless in their wake. These floods, though, also represent an opportunity to explore smarter and more adaptable ways of living in such flood-prone places, an opportunity that we should not miss. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
Self-driving vehicles are seen as the way of the future in Otter Tail County and all across the state and nation. To that end, county board members invited Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota, to address the county board August 22 in Ottertail at the county operations center. "Dealing with the unexpected when it comes to self-driving vehicles is the real challenge," said Donath. "For that reason, we're not there yet when it comes to widespread use of self-driving vehicles." A version of this story also was published in The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
City officials have been holding back downtown parking construction for years. Lately they have doubled down, investing in bicycle lanes and approving new apartment buildings with few parking spaces that encourage people to find ways besides cars to get around.... Authorities on urban parking are looking further ahead, to a future with self-driving, self-parking cars, although it’s a future that is admittedly a ways off, said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. "Until we get to the day of self-driving cars, we’ll probably have to provide some parking for some people," he said.
Privacy objections have already stalled another gas-tax alternative — a tax based on how many miles a vehicle drives in Minnesota. The 2008 transportation bill authorized a study of a mileage-based tax that the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota concluded in December 2011. The 25-member study group’s recommendation: More study.
We know distracted driving is a problem but what are we doing about it? What can we as a society do about this growing epidemic? It's been an ongoing discussion at KARE 11 and we are hoping it's a discussion you continue to have at home. KARE 11's Alicia Lewis sat down with a panel of experts on distracted driving for our #eyesUP day at the Minnesota State fair.... Dr. Kaz Nelson: Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Minnesota. She discusses the teenage brain and why we do the things we do when behind the wheel.
Three medical professional groups have expressed disapproval over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s and the Federal Railroad Administration’s Aug. 4 decision to withdraw a proposed rule on obstructive sleep apnea.... A March 2016 study from the University of Minnesota, Morris determined that drivers who do not follow their prescribed treatment for OSA are five times more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers without OSA.
When systems don’t have funds for the most basic of needs, like maintenance, workers who rely on public transit to travel even short distances may find their commutes grueling, unpredictable, and sometimes even life-threatening.... And our country’s unemployed, underemployed and lowest income populations, who can’t afford vehicles but can afford bus and subway fares, are put at an even greater disadvantage. In some cases, lack of access to public transportation can feel like the cruelest of jokes. Take Minnesota’s Twin Cities, for example. A recent study by the University of Minnesota found that the largest concentration of unemployed workers in the region lack fast or frequent transit service to available jobs. Researchers noted that disadvantaged jobs seekers are often qualified for entry-level positions located in the suburbs, but have no way of actually getting to those jobs.
"The biggest issue for Uber is how to generate enough cash to fund internal investments," Evan Rawley, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, and an expert on corporate strategy and entrepreneurship, told HuffPost in an email earlier this year. "If they have to go back to the capital markets with so much red ink flowing, the current investors will take a huge haircut on their investment."
Will the rise of car sharing diminish the need for the parking ramps on the edge of downtown Minneapolis? Humphrey School researcher Frank Douma comments.
Static and digital roadside signs conveying minimal information often are the only notice to warn motorists approaching a construction zone to slow down and be cautious. Drivers get so used to seeing the signs that they don’t pay attention to them and behave as if all work zones are the same, said Chen-Fu Liao, a senior systems engineer at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory. What if there were a better way to alert drivers and get their attention? This summer Liao and a research team are developing and testing the Work Zone Alert app, which would deliver messages directly to drivers in their vehicles through their smartphones or vehicle’s infotainment system.... The U’s Human First Lab found those who relied on audio from their phone had less mental workload.
Last fall Los Angeles County voters approved Measure M, a sales tax increase that will provide billions of dollars for transportation projects. Some of the money is given to cities in the form of “local return” funds, and some is devoted to highway upgrades. But two-thirds of the proceeds are slated for public transit improvements and subsidies.... According to a 2014 study by the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies, Los Angeles ranks third nationwide, behind only New York and San Francisco, in the share of its residents who relied on public transit to get to work. And in another category, the area ranked first: transit agencies here have a higher percentage of low-income riders than anywhere else in the nation.
After the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minnesota a decade ago, the monitoring systems took on greater importance and have been more widely used on vehicle and railroad bridges, according to experts.... The smart bridge is outfitted with systems that read such factors as bridge temperature, movement and stresses. The sensors located inside the concrete measure strain and temperature, while others fastened onto the outside of bridge look more closely at strain and vibration. MnDOT joined forces with the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities to monitor data from the sensors.
While “toot-toots” and “hooooonks” are part of the sound fabric of cities such as New York and Chicago, Minnesota drivers rarely sound off with their horns — even in the face of the most egregious, selfish driving maneuvers. When you’re Minnesota Nice, honking comes with internal conflict. “Honking feels hostile in Minnesota,” said researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota. “In other places, it’s totally acceptable to honk and nobody gets too bent out of shape about it.”
A 4.3-acre parcel tucked into a popular St. Paul neighborhood could be a blank slate for a creative developer. The St. Paul Board of Water Commissioners last week sent out a request for proposals to develop the site of a defunct 18-million-gallon water reservoir site along Snelling Avenue in the Highland Park neighborhood.... One consideration might be what happens with the redevelopment of the Ford manufacturing site about a mile west of the reservoir, said Carissa Slotterback, a professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Urban and Regional Planning Program at the University of Minnesota.
An electronic monitoring system on the new Interstate 35W St. Anthony Falls bridge uses vibrations to help monitor the bridge’s structural integrity. By analyzing the vibration data, MnDOT is working to develop monitoring systems that could detect early structural defects and ultimately allow engineers to improve bridge designs. A research study, led by University of Minnesota assistant professor Lauren Linderman, was completed in February.
Congratulations to soon-to-be Dr. Jessica Schoner for successfully defending her dissertation: ‘Mutually Reinforcing Relationships Between Bicycling Infrastructure’ before a standing room only crowd at the University of Minnesota campus on 21 August 2017.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has released a report that analyzes the performance of turfgrasses under road salt. This report addresses three areas: pre-establishment soil amendments, planting date, and watering during establishment.
The Minnesota Freight Advisory Committee (MFAC) invites all individuals interested in freight to participate in an open forum in Duluth. It will be an opportunity for MFAC members and the regional freight community to discuss the shipment of goods in and out of Northeastern Minnesota. The event will focus on the Duluth area transportation network, land-use plans, and how Duluth-area freight and transportation professionals work together to provide safe and efficient movement of goods. The forum will be held on Friday, September 8, 2017.
Last month, Eagan-based Sun Country got a new CEO. This week in a memo to staff, all signs are pointing to Sun Country changing course. The airline is going from a pretty cozy carrier to an ultra low-cost carrier. Good move? "Airlines are a good way to lose money so the joke has always been an airline is an industry where you start as a billionaire and you wind up as a millionaire," said George John of the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.
There are many major societal trends for which architects can contribute health-promoting improvements: obesity, housing and social inequities, an aging population, hazardous chemical exposures, urbanization, nature contact deficit, energy poverty, water shortages and excesses, natural disasters, and climate change. For example, an architect can design an attractive stairway that invites use. Providing daylighting in a school or workplace offers mental health and productivity benefits as well as energy savings for lighting. Creating a transit-oriented development encourages its residents to walk and use transit more and to drive less, with benefits that include increased physical activity, improved air quality, and fewer motor vehicle injuries. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
The annualized driver turnover rate at large truckload fleets was 74 percent in the first quarter and the industry was short about 48,000 drivers at the end of 2015. That shortage is expected to balloon to almost 175,000 by 2024, according to the American Trucking Associations. “Every truckload carrier is always scrambling to fill their trucks,” Stephen Burks, an economist at the University of Minnesota Morris who used to be a driver, said in an interview.
Growing suburbs’ strategy of paying for new roads and other infrastructure by charging builders fees for development could be upended by a legal challenge before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.... John Adams, a former University of Minnesota professor who has studied the fees, said the initial property taxes paid by new homes aren’t typically enough to cover the extra road costs. Without the fees, he said, the burden for paying for the city’s expansion falls on existing residents.
Today, Minnesota’s new I-35W bridge is outfitted with a “Smart Bridge System,” which includes sensors that constantly track stress. It is monitored by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
On Thursday, August 10, consultant Alyssa Schmeling, a student with a Center for Urban and Regional Affairs program at the University of Minnesota, presented photos and images of ideas that came out of a previous meeting of the Wright Park Planning Committee. Schmeling, who previously has worked in recreation and parks and is currently working on her master’s degree in community development planning, is consulting on Wright Park design ideas as part of a student project, which ends on August 21. The Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership also includes U of M professors Daniel Handeen and Virajita Singh, who have assisted Schmeling and the Wright Park Planning Committee in planning design ideas and plans for future implementation of those ideas.
A 2016 report that looked at ways in which a health system can implement design thinking identified three principles behind the approach: empathy for the user, in this case a patient, doctor or other health care provider; the involvement of an interdisciplinary team; and rapid prototyping of the idea. To develop a truly useful product, a comprehensive understanding of the problem the innovation aims to solve is paramount. “Design thinking is useful for when we need a paradigm shift, for instance when something is fundamentally broken about a service,” said Thomas Fisher, one of the authors of the report and the director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota. “It allows for the creative, multidisciplinary thinking around solving the issue.”
Natural assets – “green infrastructure” – can provide communities with invaluable ecosystem services that clean our air, filter our water, mitigate natural disasters and improve our quality of life.... Our research team has explored one way that communities can cut costs and promote better infrastructure: Let property owners buy and sell credits based on their stormwater runoff. We have also used this approach to encourage a partnership between urban and rural communities. By funding the latter to take some land out of farm/agriculture production, we can protect valuable surface water and animal habitat. (Authors: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota. Madeline Goldkamp is a graduate student of landscape architecture at the U of M.) Also published in MinnPost, August 10, 2017.
The collapse of the 35W bridge on August 1, 2007, provides more than a textbook case of design failure. It's become a powerful teaching tool. That's especially true in Minnesota, where some colleges are using pieces of the salvaged bridge wreckage to reinforce lessons on professional responsibility.... At the University of Minnesota, parts of the collapsed bridge were molded into a basketball-sized chromed ring placed atop an unfinished steel plate. A plaque describes exactly where it all came from: "Steel from the I-35W Mississippi River truss arch bridge, #9340, Minneapolis, MN." School officials had contemplated using the steel for an on-campus memorial but said this made a stronger point. Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering head Joe Labuz said graduates place their hand through it while a stainless steel ring is put on their finger. The Order of the Engineer ceremony reminds them of a solemn duty.
Eric Roper at the Strib writes: Minnesota planners begin to envision driverless future. My fuller response to Eric Roper: Do you think we’re planning enough for the arrival of this technology? It seems like there’s enough unknowns that folks like the Met Council don’t have much to say about how it will affect land use. And I’ve gotten some vague answers from Minneapolis, which is looking into it. (Comments by David Levinson, the lead author of the U report)
Minnesota is beginning to confront what promises to be the biggest shift in urban living since cars arrived in cities a century ago: The moment drivers let go of the wheel for good. Self-driving cars are leaving the realm of science fiction and creeping into discussions about the future of transportation in the Twin Cities. Researchers say the technology could be required in new cars by 2030, leaving its mark on everything from parking ramps and road design to exurban sprawl and mobility for people with disabilities. Frank Douma (Humphrey School of Public Affairs State and Local Policy Program), Tom Fisher (Minnesota Design Center), and David Levinson (Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) comment.
The St. Croix Crossing dedication Wednesday — opening the sleek, nearly-mile-long bridge near Stillwater — comes at the end of a long road, one littered with seeming dead ends and disagreements about fiscal, transportation and environmental policy, as well as the structure’s size and cost.... What might we expect? In general, “the fact that you can have more people moving through a certain area creates a market for new places for people to live or shop or whatever the land-use regulations will allow,” explains Frank Douma, a transportation researcher and director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Minnesota is beginning to confront what promises to be the biggest shift in urban living since cars arrived in cities a century ago: The moment drivers let go of the wheel for good. U researchers say fully autonomous vehicles that can operate without driver interaction may hit the market by 2025. But cars with self-driving features are already on Minnesota roads. Once automation is fully implemented, however, U researchers believe it could dramatically reduce car-related deaths. David Levinson, the lead author of the U report; Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and Minnesota Design Center Director Tom Fisher provided comments.
Beginning this fall, Twin Cities’ transit fares will rise after a plan for the increase was approved Wednesday.... Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School’s State and Local Policy Program, said since not everyone can drive or afford a car, public transit is needed to give some mobility for everyone in society. Yingling Fan, associate professor with the University's Urban and Regional Planning Area program, said in an email the Met Council’s fare increase won’t help the regional transit system in the long run because price hikes can hurt ridership and affect those with low-income who need it the most.
Local jobs are a major casualty of what analysts are calling, with only a hint of hyperbole, the retail apocalypse. Since 2002, department stores have lost 448,000 jobs, a 25% decline, while the number of store closures this year is on pace to surpass the worst depths of the Great Recession. The growth of online retailers, meanwhile, has failed to offset those losses, with the e-commerce sector adding just 178,000 jobs over the past 15 years.... Southdale set the tone for most malls," says Thomas Fisher, a professor of architecture at the University of Minnesota.
Several car companies, including Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW, Nissan and General Motors have deployed semiautonomous car technology on the roads. This is the beginning of autonomous – or driverless – cars. Many of those cars are now being tested on closed courses and open roads by companies like Google, Uber and Tesla. Frank Douma, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota, says driverless cars are expected to be common by 2030. Many car manufacturers have promised them by 2021. Right now, about 35,000 people die in car accidents in the U.S. each year. Douma says 90 to 95 percent of them are caused by human error.
Fundamental to framing the “right” problem is to start with the problems that need to be solved in the first place. These are those problems that do not lend themselves well to more linear problem-solving methods and are usually those problems that 1) cannot be well defined and/or 2) have persisted over time regardless of attempts to solve it in the past. These are good indicators that the problem is a wicked problem and requires a different frame. One of the keys to becoming more creative and effective at framing problems, is to find ways of making the familiar unfamiliar. To do so, we have outlined several proven design approaches that do not require special skill sets and can be deployed in your day-to-day practices with little to no additional time commitments. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)
Minneapolis-St. Paul is one of only a few metro areas that became more dense, rather than more sprawling, since 2010.... In the last decade, high-rise apartment buildings have changed the face and composition of neighborhoods across the Twin Cities, from Uptown and Dinkytown in Minneapolis to West Seventh in St. Paul. It’s not just demand for these multifamily homes, a national trend, that’s driving density in the Twin Cities. Policies here have also favored denser development, said Ed Goetz, director for the center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul are consciously working to grow their populations after losing residents for decades since the mid-20th century, he said. (Story also published in Twin Cities Business, July 13, 2017)
The Shared-Use Mobility Center, a nonprofit that promotes “shared mobility” services, introduced an action plan to Minneapolis City Council Tuesday to lay out its goals and plans for the future of Twin Cities ride sharing.... Local advocates and University of Minnesota researchers expect positive changes to flow from added shared mobility. Frank Douma, director of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ State and Local Policy Program and a research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies, said new ride sharing services might challenge status quo options, like taxi services and city-owned metered parking spaces, which car sharing services would reserve.... Saif Benjaafar, director of the University’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy, said in an email the relatively low costs of cars in the U.S., taxes on them and their fuel have led to their prevalence. However, Benjaafar said evidence shows consumers are willing to share rides with strangers given the right incentives and safeguards.
The X Games are the first in a series of mega-events for U.S. Bank Stadium that include the Super Bowl on Feb. 4, 2018, followed by the Final Four in 2019. This year, both ABC and ESPN will broadcast more than 18 hours from the X Games.... Minneapolis drivers will need to show some agility of their own during the games with a number of street closings near the stadium Thursday through Sunday.... Researcher Nichole Morris, who studies driver behavior at the Human First Lab at the University of Minnesota, said drivers should use wayfinding apps and consider going to a “happy place” by using a safe driving distraction such as an audiobook.
Yingling Fan is Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning and the Director of the Global Transit Innovations program at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on developing novel land use and transportation solutions to improve human health and social equity. Her interdisciplinary work has appeared in many leading academic journal across multiple fields.
A wrenching debate is playing out among state officials trying to stretch limited transportation money to fix or replace as much roadway as possible. In Minnesota and in many other states, transportation funding has lagged as road conditions have deteriorated.... Asphalt is a feasible and economical solution, even if it means going back and doing the work sooner than if new concrete were put down, said Adeel Lari, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a former senior manager at MnDOT. “You can build with concrete to last a very long time, but it is very expensive,” Lari said. “You have only so much money. It’s like our personal budget. You can buy a new car, or fix the one you have and have it last another three years. Those are the kinds of decisions MnDOT is making.”
Missourians in Kansas City spend less time in traffic than their friends in Detroit, but the 18 hours could be avoided with some forward thinking public transportation ideas. A 2014 study from the University of Minnesota found that Kansas City was the tenth worst municipality reviewed in the analysis of accessibility to public transit. Professors David Levinson and Andrew Owen used public transportation schedules and pedestrian access to the workplace to determine the level of accessibility per city.
Some intersections are riskier to cross than others, but looking at the number of pedestrian injuries alone doesn’t tell the whole story. A new RSI-funded study combines crash data with pedestrian counts to deliver a more nuanced picture of traffic dangers for people on foot.
Late Monday night, several parallel white-striped crosswalks across the University of Minnesota campus area switched to the more visible zebra pattern. The change is part of Minneapolis’ plan to convert most existing crosswalks into thick, rectangular lines, otherwise known as zebra crosswalks.... Ron Van Houten, a researcher with the U of M Roadway Safety Institute and a professor of psychology at Western Michigan University, said some research shows zebra crosswalks can reduce crashes by 40 percent.... Greg Lindsey, also an RSI researcher and professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who teaches urban and regional planning, said a city doesn’t arbitrarily switch to a new striping system without deliberate planning.
Congestion on metro area freeways has reached record levels, and a Twin Cities think tank says bad public policy and not regional growth is to blame. In a report called "Twin Cities Traffic Congestion: It's No Accident," author Randal O'Toole squarely points the finger at the Met Council and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, claiming the agencies have shifted their priority away from congestion mitigation to encouraging commuters to use public transportation and other alternatives to driving.... "It's much more complicated," said Yingling Fan, a researcher with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. "Congestion is not just related to traffic lanes. People need to consider other dimensions when looking at transportation problems."
A U.S. Department of Agriculture grant issued last week will fund an initiative that could help small-time farmers, rural grocery stores and wholesale food distributors simultaneously, simply by making the delivery system more efficient. The method, called "backhauling," will be tested with garlic in Big Stone County in far western Minnesota. ... The benefit for rural grocery stores is they would be connected with local producers, and could be paid for acting as a dock for farm-grown produce. University Applied Economics professor Hikaru Peterson will be co-leading the study with Kathryn Draeger, statewide director of Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships.
The University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies has developed an app that will pair directly with technology in construction zones. Researcher Chen-Fu Liao calls it "a Bluetooth beacon." Workers can send messages to drivers as they approach construction zones. The idea is not to look down at the app or the phone but to have it speak to drivers. ... The U of M's Human First Lab tested the app for driver distractions. Researcher Nichole Morris tracked and analyzed the eye movements and responses of 100 different drivers as they navigated several simulated construction zones.
Nearly a quarter of adults in Minnesota ride their bikes at least once a week, and that number is even higher for those under 18. Seven in 10 walk daily in their community. Advocates are asking lawmakers to keep that in mind as they debate the active transportation bill. Increased funding for pedestrian and bicycle trails in the state has stalled for the past three years and Dorian Grilley of Bicycle Alliance Minnesota says a University of Minnesota study funded by the Department of Transportation found bicycle commuting in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area alone prevents 12 to 61 deaths per year because of the increased health benefits riders get.
Truck drivers are everywhere on our highways, undergirding the American economy, but most of us know little about their work and personal lives beyond musty stereotypes from the days of CB radio. Most truckers were quick to disabuse me of any notion that life on the open road holds romantic allure. ... A couple of truckers who are now college professors were helpful to me. Stephen V. Burks, an economist at the University of Minnesota at Morris, calculated that his pay as a union driver in 1979 would be the equivalent of $101,600 today. Since that era, trucking has been deregulated, and the Teamsters union has all but disappeared from the Interstates. As a result, truckers earn less than half of what they once did.
As the school year comes to a close, so too does a major project in Brooklyn Park that will shape the city's future. The nine month collaboration between the city and the University of Minnesota is called the 'Resilient Communities Project.' Nearly 300 students completed work on two dozen projects, and the students' findings will be used to implement city policies for years to come.
University of Minnesota grad student Jargalmaa Erdenemandakh put her public policy major to work in Brooklyn Park this semester. For months, she’s been researching how Minnesota’s sixth-largest city can assess its rebranding efforts. Her findings are part of the U’s Resilient Communities Project, which connects students with communities chosen each academic year through an application process. Students complete projects across a broad array of topics and turn their findings over to city leaders, who can use them to guide policy and urban planning. Students in dozens of university courses tackled income disparities, transit issues, obstacles to healthy food, police diversity and nature-based play options at parks, among other topics.
The day after a section of an Interstate 85 bridge in Atlanta collapsed, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority saw a 21 percent increase in ridership. Nearly a month later, the growth in new riders is slowing down. ... Michael Iacano worked with his colleagues at the University of Minnesota at the time to study the impact of the collapse using two years’ worth of data from Metro Transit, the largest public transit agency in the area. Four months after the bridge collapse, the agency saw a 6.6 percent increase in monthly ridership system-wide. “We think the bridge collapse led some people to temporarily switch modes to public transit, especially for the ones that worked in downtown," Iacono said. “There was this offsetting effect as Metro Transit decided to ramp up service in response. They started providing additional frequency on existing routes, and providing additional temporary park and ride capacity on some outlying locations.
Those familiar thick carpets of blue salt crystals could soon be a thing of winters past on Minnesota roads. Instead, expect to see more brine. Liquid anti-icing agents, like salt brine, are the current stars of the winter maintenance world, while granular anti-icing agents -- like sand and rock salt -- get used more sparingly and for specific purposes, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, academic researchers and environmental consultants. ... Lawrence Baker, a research professor in bioproducts and biosystems engineering at the University of Minnesota, said even if we significantly reduce our salt use now, it might be decades before we see overall decreases in groundwater contamination. The best medicine, according to Baker, is prevention – keeping the chloride from getting into the environment in the first place.
The city of Ramsey will partner with University of Minnesota students as it updates its long-term plans on issues including community development, water conservation, community engagement and more. Now in its fifth year, the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project, through a competitive process, chooses one community each school year to give university students and a chance to work on a multitude of projects. And it gives the city some extra input as it explores some big topics.
We often identify as Minnesotans or Midwesterners, citizens of the Twin Cities metro area, or simply our various hometowns. But did you know you're also a resident of Laurentide? This is just one of the unofficial designations that researchers, regional planners and other experts have for the Twin Cities and its surrounding areas as they redraw the United States to better reflect how cities currently connect with each other and will do so in the future.... Tom Fisher and David Levinson comment.
In Washington, one of freshman Rep. Jason Lewis’ first legislative moves was to introduce a bill that he claims will limit the power and scope of the Met Council, the Twin Cities metro area planning organization. Lewis’ bill would overturn an obscure, 11th-hour rule from Barack Obama’s administration regarding metropolitan planning organizations, or MPOs, of which the Met Council is one of about 400 around the U.S... Frank Douma, an urban planning expert at the University of Minnesota, said that the bottom line is that the DoT rule “would not have an impact on the way that planning is done in the Twin Cities.”
Richard P. Braun, 91, a longtime public servant who was commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation from 1979 to 1986, died this week.... In 1986, Braun stepped down as MnDOT commissioner to lead what is now the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota.
As construction ramps up along I-94 in Minneapolis, a team of University of Minnesota researchers is urging caution. Minnesota Traffic Observatory research shows a particular stretch of I-94, roughly from the 35W/I-94 merge to just past Portland Avenue, has the highest crash rate in the metro area with more than 150 crashes per year. That amounts to about one crash every two days. Which makes it even more important for drivers in that area to remain focused on the road. "People are not perfect drivers. Even the people who claim to be perfect drivers are not perfect drivers," MTO director John Hourdos said.
Tourism specialist and extension educator Xinyi Qian spoke to John Hines live on WCCO-AM radio about a recent state report on the economic benefits of commuting by bike.
In 1987, a new research center opened at the University of Minnesota that would begin a decades-long mission to catalyze innovation in all facets of transportation, from traffic flow and safety to pavements and bridges. This year, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) celebrates its 30th anniversary, capping three decades of developing new tools to help agencies across the US improve transportation systems and provide objective data to inform elected officials on matters of transportation policy.
A new report pegs the economic impact of cycling in Minnesota at $780 million annually. The study finds more than 13-percent of Minnesotans commute by bike, at least once in a while. The state Department of Transportation commissioned the study, which also found about 5,500 jobs tied to the biking industry. The Star Tribune reports Minneapolis leads the nation in the concentration of bike lanes and paths, with near six per square mile. Researchers at the University of Minnesota surveyed bikers and businesses and used public health data and computer modeling to compile the report.
Biking isn’t just a fun way to get around Lake Calhoun or a cheap way to get to work—it’s also an economic and health boon to the state. That’s according to the findings from a report by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, which said that Minnesota’s bike industry contributed $780 million in economic output in 2014. It also helped support 5,500 jobs and over $200 million in labor-related income.
For many Minnesotans cycling is nothing more than a Sunday frolic, but a new report finds that the state’s bike industry produces $780 million in annual economic activity, 5,519 jobs and millions of dollars in health care savings because of reduced obesity, diabetes and heart disease. And get this: Fully 13.6 percent of Twin Cities residents commute by bike, at least once in a while.Those are the results of the first major investigation into the health and economic effects of the state’s bicycling industry, commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to help measure the financial return on taxpayers’ investment in biking infrastructure. The study was compiled by researchers at the University of Minnesota through surveys of bikers and businesses, crunching public health data, and computer modeling.
A measure introduced at the Legislature would exempt car-sharing firms like Car2Go from paying motor vehicle rental taxes and fees in Minnesota. If the bill passes, its supporters hope Car2Go would come back to the Twin Cities or its competitors would enter the market.... Car2Go pared back its Twin Cities geographic service area in 2015, saying it preferred to concentrate on places that resulted in the most use. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School, said the Twin Cities are “density challenged." Douma said this phenomenon will change when self-driving cars become more ubiquitous.
In September, Lyft CEO John Zimmer declared the world to be on the cusp of the "third transportation revolution," when self-driving cars push us one step closer to "Star Trek" utopianism.... In the Twin Cities, there are scattered efforts to engage with the technology, and University of Minnesota research and researchers are in the thick of them. Frank Douma, with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and Tom Fisher, the director of the Metropolitan Design Center, are cited along with buses and snowplows outfitted with advanced driver assist systems.
Minneapolis Tree Advisory Committee has called for the city to plant about 25,000 new trees each year. That sounds like a lot, but New York City planted 1 million trees in eight years, over five times the rate in the Minneapolis recommendation.... Imagine Minneapolis a couple of decades from now, with a green canopy covering almost half of the city and an evergreen forest along our highways. We would have cleaner air and water, cooler summers, less windy winters, higher land values, and a healthier population.
Last month, the University of Minnesota’s annual State of Research report highlighted a research enterprise that continues to grow, driven by greater diversification of funding sources and enhanced public-private partnership. The report, produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research, also highlighted several ongoing research projects that are advancing knowledge across a wide variety of fields. These efforts are shedding light on youth brain function, boosting computing technology, exploring new mining processes and improving transportation systems. ... The Accessibility Observatory, a program of the Center for Transportation Studies and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering within CSE, received a five-year, $1.6 million award to collect and map data on city residents’ access to jobs by car, public transit, bicycle and walking.
LA Metro, the Los Angeles rail and bus transit system, is the third most comprehensive system in the entire USA, according to a study by the University of Minnesota. Local online magazine LAist describes it as technically the “best accessible” transit system in the country, while the city's integrated bus system is “robust” and “incredibly extensive."
Whether it's winter or summer, it's clear to see bicycling is popular in Minnesota. Now, there are numbers to show just how beneficial the activity is to our state thanks to a new study conducted by the University of Minnesota, and funded by MnDOT. MnDOT tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this study is the first of its kind. Officials at MnDOT say Minnesota is one of the most bike friendly states in the country, but now there are numbers to back it up.
How well does your city’s transit system connect people to jobs? A new report from the University of Minnesota lays out how many jobs are accessible via transit in major American cities. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and D.C. offer the best transit access to jobs, the authors concluded. In addition, Seattle and Denver are two regions that punch above their weight, according to co-author David Levinson, a University of Minnesota civil engineering professor.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota-Duluth may have the answer to our pothole problem. "I think everybody recognizes that road deterioration and potholes are a real problem. It's a huge cost to consumers and to motorists on an annual basis just for damage to their vehicles," said Larry Zanko with UMD's Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). Zanko, principal investigator, is part of a team fine-tuning two new ways for pavement patching and repair--both taconite-related. Zanko believes both technologies, 10 years in the making, are promising and provide a quicker and more permanent fix, leading to a more cost-effective solution.
According to the Met Council's 2015 Regional Park-and-Ride System Report, there were 19,340 vehicles in the lots when the annual survey was taken in late September and early October 2015. The annual survey tracks facility use to identify emerging travel patterns by park-and-ride users across the Twin Cities region. It also is used by planners to determine where to put new facilities and update service. And that's where another study conducted by University of Minnesota Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering Prof. Alireza Khani could come in useful. While much has been written as to why commuters use park-and-rides, Khani wanted to know what factors influence where they decide to park. Knowing those answers may come in handy when future decisions are made on which park and rides to keep, where to build new ones and where to expand transit service and amenities to maximize ridership.
On too many days, Metro serves up an ample dose of frustration, with breakdowns and repair work snarling travel, but the subway and bus network ranks fourth in the nation when it comes to connecting the dots between home and work. That’s according to the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, which has ranked 49 of the 50 largest cities in the U.S. for the ability to get workers to their jobs via transit.
Growing traffic on U.S. roadways and heavy construction machinery in road work zones pose a critical safety threat to construction workers. At the University of Minnesota, Duluth, researchers are taking a new approach to preventing work-zone accidents by bringing situational awareness to the operators of construction vehicles.
TaskRabbit was founded in 2008 with a big idea. On the company's website and app, people make money by assembling strangers’ Ikea furniture or cleaning their bathrooms.... Saif Benjaafar, who runs the Sharing Economy Initiative, a research project at the University of Minnesota, credits TaskRabbit with helping create a movement.
To help prospective college students winnow their school choices, WalletHub’s analysts compared 415 U.S. cities of varying sizes based on 26 key indicators of academic, social and economic opportunities for students. Our data set ranges from “cost of living” to “quality of higher education” to “crime rate.” University of Minnesota professors John Adams and Andrew Furco are interviewed.
Dodging potholes is a rite of winter and spring for Minnesota motorists, but a research team in Duluth is attacking the annoying roadway craters head-on. Experts from the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute are advancing research on a pair of technologies that, in their view, will put maintenance crews a step or two closer to the “ideal repair” for potholes. Compared with traditional hot-mix asphalt repairs, the technologies lead to cheaper, quicker and more permanent fixes, said Lawrence Zanko, a senior research fellow who is heading up the team.
Dangerous collisions between cars and bikes could be a thing of the past with the help of a University of Minnesota student. At a conference hosted by the University’s Center for Transportation Studies earlier this month, a professor and graduate student presented a system to detect cars in a bicyclist’s blind spot. Mechanical engineering student Woongsun Jeon and Professor Rajesh Rajamani created a method that places sensors on the side and back of a bicycle. The devices alert a cyclist when a car is approaching their side, but they haven’t yet perfected the technology to detect vehicles at intersections.
The first snowfall of the season means adjusting our driving behavior to deal with cold, snow, and ice. HumanFIRST Lab principal researcher Nichole Morris provides tips and insight into safely driving in winter weather.
Researchers in Australia and the United States are now testing what kind of feedback will make young drivers slow down. Statistics show young drivers die at twice the rate of other drivers.... In an American study, newly-licensed teenage drivers were more likely to stop speeding when their parents received text messages dobbing them in for breaking the limit. Road safety expert Max Donath, who visited Australia last month, said most parents trusted their teenagers "much more than they should".
Donald Trump loves the idea of infrastructure. He brings it up all the time. He wants to make an infrastructure bill a priority in his first 100 days as president.... David Levinson, a transportation analyst and professor at the University of Minnesota, brings up a number of other concerns about a plan to set up PPPs that don’t rely so heavily on tolls. PPPs are complicated multi-decade financial arrangements, and not all states and localities are necessarily well-equipped to manage these deals in the public interest.
In June, more than 40 White Earth Nation (Minnesota) students were introduced to a variety of transportation topics in a daylong session offered by the Roadway Safety Institute (RSI).... The Roadway Safety Institute also sponsored a day focused on safety at the second annual National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) hosted by the Center for Transportation Studies in July on the University of Minnesota campus.
University of Minnesota experts are touting automated speed enforcement cameras as an effective way to curb speeding drivers — a top cause of driving fatalities in the state. But some say the cameras could face similar pushback to red light cameras which were deemed a violation to state law nine years ago. Nichole Morris, University research associate at the Center for Transportation Studies, said allowing speed cameras should be a “no-brainer” for state legislation. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the enforcement devices have had success reducing speeds and the amount of crashes in other states.
A new pilot program at the University of Minnesota focuses on working with partners outside the U to create new knowledge and put it into play benefiting the community. In one of three pilot projects, University researcher Diwakar Gupta is working with Metro Transit experts Scott Cady and Christine Kuennen to develop new scientific methods for optimizing its bus and light-rail operations.
Earlier this year, new rules overseeing taxicabs and ride-sharing firms, including UberX and Lyft, were proposed for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Few could have predicted what a wrenching, regulatory journey it would prove to be. Proposed ordinances were retooled along the way, and the most recent version will be voted on by the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) on Monday. If approved, the new regulations will take effect Jan. 1. Airport passengers using smartphone-enabled apps will likely find it easier to hail UberX and Lyft rides should the new rules be adopted.... "When you try to regulate Uber and Lyft at airports, people will find ways around [the rules]," said Yash Babar, a University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management doctoral student who studies ride-sharing. "These laws are very difficult to impose."
State and federal transportation officials, business owners and developers are exploring the notion of “capping” several sections of freeways with wide swaths of land. The idea has been floated around the Twin Cities area from St. Paul to north Minneapolis to Edina. Some view it as a way to add developable space in built-out areas. Others see public health benefits in controlling air and noise pollution.... “We’ve seen, in the last couple of years, a complete shift in thinking about this, from ‘Oh, this is kind of a wacky idea,’ to ‘No, this solves many problems and it should happen,’ ” said Thomas Fisher, director of the University of Minnesota’s Metropolitan Design Center.
The number of pedestrians killed on state roads this year is already at 37 — up from 23 at this time last year. Plus, October, the most dangerous month for pedestrians, is just getting started. This year in St. Paul alone, there have been 117 crashes involving vehicles and pedestrians through Sept. 23, resulting in 91 injuries and three deaths. Those numbers are why St. Paul police and neighborhood groups and organizations such as MnDOT have teamed up to hold 53 crosswalk campaigns throughout the city over the past year with the goal of changing driver behavior.... Authorities consulted the U of M-based Roadway Safety Institute in planning their pedestrian safety campaign.
The rise of online rentals in Rochester, Minnesota, has jumpstarted a policy debate that's playing out in much bigger cities: how to balance the interests of existing, regulated businesses against those operating in the unregulated sharing economy. Big debates around car-sharing services, like Uber, continue to play out in city council meetings.... University of Minnesota design expert Tom Fisher says getting this question right is crucial to realizing the Destination Medical Center vision. Millennials make up roughly 40 percent of the workforce.
A team of researchers has concluded that for every three gallons of corn ethanol that’s being burned under America’s flagship renewable fuel rules, Americans will avoid burning just one gallon of gasoline made from crude. Their findings add to evidence that the mandated use of biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard, which was approved by Congress and is overseen by the EPA, is making the problem of global warming worse — while doing little to ease fuel imports. The researchers, from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, focused their analysis on the “fuel rebound effect.” That’s economist jargon describing an unintended market consequence of rules requiring America’s gasoline industry to blend biofuels into its products. U of M researcher Jason Hill comments.
Most assessments measuring congestion focus on the number of extra hours individual motorists spend stuck in traffic each year. But a new study from University of Minnesota researchers takes a different approach. The “Access Across America: Auto 2015” study looks at how congestion collectively impacts the ability of people to get to and from jobs. In other words, it looks at how many jobs drivers can get to in a specified amount of time and how many they can’t. AO director Andrew Owen is interviewed.
Our decisions about transportation determine much more than where roads or bridges or tunnels or rail lines will be built. They determine the connections and barriers that people will encounter in their daily lives — and thus how hard or easy it will be for people to get where they need and want to go.... according to a study released by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota, a typical resident of the Baltimore-Towson region can reach fewer than 138,000 of our region's 1.2 million jobs in under an hour using public transportation.
Many area farmers are entering the busy harvest season but before cutting down all their crops, MnDOT is looking for farmers to take part in their standing corn rows program. In the winter months, snow might be nice to look at... but for drivers, it's a nuisance they'd rather avoid. That has MnDOT and the University of Minnesota Extension working with landowners to keep the roads clear, especially in some 3,700 problem sites on state highways.... University of Minnesota Extension Educator Gary Wyatt said, "Certainly a golden opportunity for farmers to look at this opportunity, with MnDOT's compensation as well and they could put together a really nice package for 15 years and have a living snow fence protect that highway."
While still in their infancy, two University of Minnesota start-ups will travel to Congress on Tuesday as part of a University event that helps nascent companies secure investment. The two companies, Minnepura and Innotronics, were funded with help from the University’s Venture Center..... Innotronics—launched last year—and aims to market remote sensors for industrial and agricultural equipment. The three-member team first researched sensors for cars that could detect and prevent imminent crashes, said Innotronics Chief Scientific Officer Rajesh Rajamani.
When it comes to earthquakes and other natural disasters, designing structures to be resilient against environmental forces can help limit the resulting damage. Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) Lab can test how structures and building components hold up against the strain of enormous natural forces, from simulated earthquakes to tornadoes to soil pressure. The lab, originally supported for 15 years by grants through the National Science Foundation, is part of the College of Science and Engineering’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering. U of M professor of civil engineering Arturo Schultz, director of the MAST Lab, comments.
As Americans drive more miles than ever before, express lanes are facing a challenge: they are too popular. So many drivers of all kinds are using the lanes that it is increasingly difficult for transportation officials to keep them speedy.... As tolls have climbed around the country, researchers have noticed an interesting phenomenon: Rather than deterring drivers, as they are supposed to, higher prices tend to attract them. David Levinson, a researcher at the University of Minnesota, said that when express tolls rise, many drivers take it as a sign that regular lanes are congested, rather than realizing that it means that the express lanes are especially crowded.
Last week the Metropolitan Council adopted a plan to issue $103.5 million in “certificates of participation” (COPs) to help pay for the $1.9 billion Southwest light-rail project. Because state lawmakers failed to fund their anticipated share of the project, the Met Council was left scrambling for cash. The project faced imminent shutdown—and with $140 million already spent on it.... Jerry Zhao, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, called them “a special kind of revenue bond, with a fuzzy guarantee,” and noted that many state and municipal governments pressed for cash use them because they’re flexible. In some cases, public hearings are not necessary.
Maps and an abundance of other current data and advice for transit and workforce development are part of an impressive report that was released toward the end of the regular session by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies. A distinguished U of M associate professor in transportation policy, Yingling Fan, is the lead author. The report — Linking the Unemployed to Jobs: Integrated Transit Planning and Workforce Development — provides a strong foundation of support for two fairly straightforward propositions.
Minnesota’s Smart Lanes is the brand name of the active traffic management (ATM) system implemented on I-35W and I-94, the two busiest freeways in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The centerpiece of this system, and a novel idea at the time of its installation since no other U.S. city has anything similar, is the implementation of Intelligent Lane Control Signs (ILCS). Minnesota Traffic Observatory director John Hourdos explains.
Research shows left-turning vehicles are more likely to be involved in a collision, because the vehicle must cross in front of oncoming traffic.... Experts say that while there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the hazards, such as better road design and alert drivers, turning left is just inherently more risky. "They are the most dangerous because they are direct conflicts between different movements," said John Hourdos, director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory and an adjunct assistant civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
While he's long been interested in the tangible, physical world around us, University of Minnesota Metropolitan Design Center director Tom Fisher has a new book of essays about "the design of what we cannot see."
In theU.S. overall, there aren’t enough jobs to go around. But that’s not the case in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, where one job opening exists for each unemployed person, according to a 2015 report. The problem, however, is that while these vacancies are clustered in the suburbs, the people who could potentially fill them live in the urban centers. As with many other U.S. metros, prospective workers in the Twin Cities remain disconnected from job-rich areas. A group of researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by Yingling Fan, associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, took a deep dive into this spatial mismatch in a new report. Using GIS mapping, they visualized the potential effect of recently proposed transit expansions in the region.
Many qualified job-seekers in the metro area remain unemployed because they can’t find transportation to work, a new study found. The study, published by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies and released to the public late last month, found urban workers are often qualified for entry-level jobs but have no way of reaching those jobs in the suburbs. Additionally, the study found that urban workers often lack qualifications for jobs close to them — creating what the researchers have coined a “spatial and skill mismatch.” “So our research is looking to lay out an approach to reconcile those mismatches by coordinating transit planning, job training and job placement services,” said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and one of three co-researchers who authored the study.
A recent University of Minnesota study found a “serious disconnect” between unemployed workers and job vacancies in the seven-county Twin Cities area. The culprit? The lack of a dependable car, for one, but also the need for a public transportation system that’s reliable and convenient. As a result, disadvantaged workers who live in urban areas often have no way to reach employment centers in suburbia, the study concludes. And employers hungry for qualified workers can’t seem to attract and keep them. Andrew Guthrie commented.
The absolute best way to reduce cut-through traffic is to transform your neighborhood into a grid. Cut-through traffic “is particularly a problem in areas that try to concentrate traffic onto a few major roads, but leave only a few other routes besides main arterials connected,” says David Levinson, a civil engineer with the University of Minnesota. Streets arranged as connected grids, on the other hand, “tend to distribute traffic more evenly.”
A new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Traffic Observatory shows that drivers are heeding the messages displayed on the high-tech warning signs designed to get them to switch lanes before they reach the point where there is a stall, crash or hazard impeding traffic. But when it comes to mitigating congestion, well, that’s another story.... The signs had the intended effect on driver behavior, meaning vehicles vacated the lanes far enough in advance to minimize traffic disruption, said study coordinator John Hourdos.
Connecting unfilled Twin Cities jobs with workers is a matter of distance, and University of Minnesota researchers Andy Guthrie and Ying Fan say they might have a solution.
The $27 million A Line opened June 11 amid much fanfare among transit and elected officials. ... University of Minnesota Prof. David Levinson recently released an accessibility evaluation of the A Line, part of a broader, federally funded project.
Getting a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage in American culture. But this exciting coming-of-age has instead become a death sentence for thousands of teens each year. Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 16 and 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes. Nichole Morris, principal researcher in the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the Roadway Safety Institute, and research scholar with the Center for Transportation Studies at University of Minnesota, offers expert insights.
In Minnesota, the incidents of traffic deaths among the American Indian (AI) population is 2.5 times higher than the general population and a recent tribal road safety summit in the state highlighted the need for accurate geographical data on accident types and locations. Many incidents occur on dirt roads that are well below normal US standards of construction and maintenance. Professor Kathy Quick, of the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, says “much existing research is at the level of the AI population in the US as a whole. That does not give us a very good picture of what is happening in particular locations.”
Potholes are a world-wide problem. This article highlights new research, including a project out of the University of Minnesota Duluth, that aims to make pothole patching more effective and long-lasting. Led by Larry Zanko, the research team developed an experimental repair vehicle that uses microwaves and taconite to heat up the patch and improve adhesion. More information: Microwaves and taconite improve pothole repair, CTS Catalyst, July 2013
Nichole Morris, a researcher at the HumanFirst Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has startling statistics that should keep parents awake. Morris says the most hazardous years of life for children are between 16 and 17 -- not because of suicide, cancer or other accidents; the cause is driving. Morris acknowledges cars and roads have become safer. The trouble is young drivers make fatal mistakes that should never happen.
Professor David Levinson, University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies and Department of Civil Engineering, discusses the future of Hyperloop as it completes its first test.
University of Minnesota researchers are working to create an algorithm to solve scheduling issues for public transit. A study found that dispatchers manually assign driving jobs to workers on a daily basis, and when bus drivers call in sick or have some sort of emergency, dispatchers must quickly assign jobs to reserve drivers or overtime bus drivers. Project lead researcher and industrial and systems engineering professor Diwakar Gupta, along with other University researchers, designed and tested an algorithm for online interval scheduling that eliminated bias in scheduling and allowed reserve drivers to be assigned to shifts, which could lower costs because overtime drivers are more expensive.
With advancing technology and widely available car-sharing services, getting around without your own car is becoming a reality for big-city dwellers. The need for personal vehicles is dwindling with the rise of self-driving cars and sharing services — such as zipcar, Hourcar and car2go — according to a University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies report published this month. ... Car-sharing service users pay per trip, eschewing usual expenses like monthly loans or maintenance, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and the study’s principal investigator.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is in the middle of an open call for state and local agencies to submit data that it will use to put together a national transit map. ... Many transit agencies have begun to publish their route and schedule data online in a standard, machine-readable format. By combining this data into a National Transit Map, we will be able to better understand and illustrate the role of transit in America, understand where gaps in service exist and help connect more Americans to opportunity. There are many great examples of work that has been done in this space — the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota, the recent collaboration between Transit Center and the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Mapzen’s Transit Land, and so many more.
This spring, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is ramping up its "living snow fence" program, just as farmers begin planting their fields across the state. The program aims to create safer road conditions by paying farmers to leave corn rows, hay bales or silage bags along the side of state-maintained roads to break blowing snow. The program has been around for a number of years, but it really gained steam after the terrible 1996-97 winter (remember that one?). "At that point, we began to ask, 'What can we do to make things better, and reach more people?' " said Dan Gullickson, coordinator of the living snow fence program.
Could you save by dumping one vehicle? Over the past half-dozen years, new car- and ride-sharing services have revolutionized the way people get around, creating a new set of alternatives. ... If you doubled up only a few times a week, you’re a strong candidate for downsizing, says David Levinson, a civil engineering professor and researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the amount of snow that blows across a road can be 100 times more snow than what's falling from the sky. In 2013, researchers from the University of Minnesota and MnDOT set out to find a new way, a cost-effective way, to keep some of that snow off the roads. It turns out the answer may be as simple as shrub willows. That's right, shrub willows.
The car-sharing service car2go has scaled back its presence in the Twin Cities to concentrate its cars in more high-demand areas. The company downsized its 107 square mile service area — which was the company’s largest service area — to 50 square miles last week. The University of Minnesota area is included in the company’s smaller footprint. ... “[C]ar2go is different than your conventional car rental company because, usually, car rental is done by the day, while car-sharing allows people to rent their car by the hour,” said Frank Douma, University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs director of state and local policy program.
Truck drivers with sleep apnea who don't regularly follow their treatment program are much more likely to crash, a new study finds. "The most surprising result of our study is the strength and robustness of the increase in the crash risk for drivers with sleep apnea who fail to adhere to mandated treatment with positive airway pressure therapy [CPAP]," said study author Stephen Burks. He's principal investigator of the Truckers & Turnover Project at the University of Minnesota.
While many experts says that too much involvement in your teenager's life can be counterproductive, statistics show that advice doesn't apply to driving. NBC's Tom Costello reports for TODAY from a driver's ed program in Potomac, Maryland. University of Minnesota researcher Nichole Morris was interviewed for the story.
In the labyrinth of bus routes, rail lines and commuter arteries that make up a city map, identifying areas that lack sufficient services can be difficult. But a new U.S. Transportation Department initiative would help pinpoint these “transit deserts.” Then, planners say, urban and suburban pockets with substandard train and bus service — or those lacking any transit — could be better connected to a city’s grid. “ ‘Transit desert’ is a very simple way of saying, ‘Let’s look at where and how much service we provide versus what the potential [is],’ ” said Andrew Owen, director of the University of Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory.
Among the people who know what they are talking about, the unanimous message to parents is: You’re not worried nearly enough. Get much more involved. Your child’s life may be in danger. What’s the topic? Teenage driving. “If you’re going to have an early, untimely death,” said Nichole Morris, a principal researcher at the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, “the most dangerous two years of your life are between 16 and 17, and the reason for that is driving.”
In recent years, the economy is shared around the world quietly. Credit Suisse believes that the global economic share in the profits generated from the rise in 2013 of $15 billion in 2025 to $335 billion. As an economic model, share ideas through the adjustment of economic resources to achieve social stock of products and services to maximize use, which continues to stimulate economic growth through new investment in traditional practices brought new ideas. Some analysts believe that sharing economy will gradually enter the fast lane. However, sharing a healthy economy, still need to constantly improve the supervision and management mechanism. ... Singapore University of Technology and Design share economic research organization members, University of Minnesota professor Saif Benjaafar in the interview with this reporter, said that the economic share in the emerging economies has great potential for development, it allows more people to enjoy resources and resources exclusive to bypass the traditional ownership model. (via Google Translate)
The Minneapolis School District's decision to have high school students use public transportation to get to class instead of riding yellow school buses is paying off with better attendance and better grades according to a new study by University of Minnesota researchers. And in a surprising finding, it's also helped their social well being, according to the study of the Student Pass program published in the February edition of Catalyst, a monthly newsletter published by the university's Center for Transportation Studies. Researchers found that absenteeism dropped 23 percent during the 2014-2015 school year according to data collected through surveys of more than 2,000 students and 500 parents. "It's not surprising, that if you miss the yellow school bus you really have no other way to get to school, meaning you miss half the day or the entire day," said Yingling Fan, associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the principal investigator. "With transit, you can always catch the next bus."
In 2013, six Minneapolis public high schools participated in Metro Transit’s student Go-To Card program, which gave students free or discounted passes for unlimited rides for that school year. The following year, the University’s Center for Transportation Studies analyzed how these passes impacted students and Metro Transit, releasing its findings in last month’s edition of CTS Catalyst. Researchers Yingling Fan and Kirti Das provide comments.
MnDOT District 7 is piloting a snowplow driver assist system to combat the blowing snow and fog that often cause zero visibility. The DAS helps snowplow operators see road alignments and features, such as turn lanes, guardrails, and road markings. Even in less extreme winter weather, snowplow operators gain assurance of their lane location using the system. ... The DAS system was designed by the U of M Intelligent Vehicles Lab and deployed by licensee, MTS Systems.
Stearns County is a microcosm of the growing chasm between Minnesotans' demands for a modern, safe, efficient network of roads, bridges and transit, and the available dollars to pay for it. ... But those funding sources haven’t been keeping pace, and drivers now pay about half the amount of tax per vehicle mile traveled as they did in the 1960s, according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies.
Metro Transit is testing its first rapid transit bus line on an urban street. The new A Line is designed to attract more riders by cutting travel time and improving bus service. ... The new bus line plays a different role than light rail or even highway-based bus rapid transit, said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The rapid transit lines "are very much about setting a higher standard of quality for local service."
Bus Rapid Transit lines can generate economic development, attract high-paying jobs, and increase property values, according to a study released last month by the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. The report, which aims to answer questions about economic development near BRT lines by comparing systems around the country, veers into new research territory. “Until very recently, there just hasn’t been much opportunity to do research on BRT in a North American context because there hasn’t been much BRT here,” said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who studies transit systems. Another recent study by Guthrie and co-author Yingling Fan for the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota took a more focused look at economic development and job opportunities for the half-dozen BRT lines currently being planned in the Twin Cities. This story also appeared in Politics in Minnesota Capitol Report (02/05/2016)
Waiting at a bus stop or a subway station, it can feel like the minutes stretch on forever, forever, forever, foooooooorever, for-ev-er before the train or bus finally (finally!) arrives. This isn’t because your local transit agency is conspiring to make your life miserable. Your brain perceives the minutes spent waiting as longer than they actually are. Studies of transit riders’ perception of time have found that people unconsciously multiple their wait times by a factor of 1.2 to 2.5. “People actually consider waiting at the bus stop for buses as among the most unhappy moments of their life,” says Yingling Fan, an University of Minnesota associate professor who specializes in planning and policy.
Metro Transit, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and a half-dozen other partners this week will submit an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, a competition to bring home $50 million to improve transit and transportation. ... Besides the cities and Metro Transit, other local partners include the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the University of Minnesota, Nice Ride, Transit for Livable Communities, the McKnight Foundation and the Shared Mobility Center.
In December 2014, a study was released that claimed that electric cars actually produced “3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than those powered by gas.” Study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, says: “It is kind of hard to beat gasoline. … A lot of technologies that we think of as being clean are not better than gasoline.” In reality, these zero-emissions vehicles are generally fueled by coal.
With a weekday average of more than 276,000 rides last year and a steadily increasing rider population, use of Metro Transit buses and light rail trains has continued to grow since 2005. Last year’s ridership eclipsed 2014’s record numbers by nearly 1.2 million rides. ... When Metro Transit projected the Green Line’s ridership, it was far underestimated, said Yingling Fan, University of Minnesota director of Global Transit Innovations.
Thousands of factors contribute to Minnesota’s vital economy. One of them is the direct Delta Air Lines flight from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Tokyo and the access it provides to Asian markets beyond. But Delta executives warn that this competitive advantage may not last if a proposed agreement between the U.S. and Japanese governments erodes the airline’s ability to compete with United and American, the two other major U.S.-based carriers serving Tokyo. (U of M Carlson School professor Alfred Marcus provided background information for this piece.)
To help repair some of Minnesota’s crumbling roadways and bridges, several state transportation departments doled out $32 million in grants last month for highway projects. The 11 projects are geared toward economic development and job creation. All are funded through the Transportation Economic Development Program and approved by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Department of Employment and Economic Development. ... In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers found that 11 percent of the state’s major roads are in poor condition. Because of Minnesota’s snow and frost cycle, roads need to be repaired more often, said Minnesota Traffic Observatory Director John Hourdos.
Cars will always out speed cyclists, but they could soon zip past at a slower pace if bike advocates have their way. Proponents for lower speed limits are in preliminary talks with local government officials with hopes of creating a safer city for bikers and pedestrians. ... But research shows posting speed limits doesn’t guarantee that drivers will obey them, said Frank Douma, the director of state and public affairs at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
With tens of thousands of new jobs forecast for Rochester under the 20-year Destination Medical Center (DMC) plan, transportation planners have begun plotting strategies to get those workers to the office on time. Far from being a down-the-list detail, transportation has emerged as a core problem to solve, the sooner the better. ... Frank Douma, director of the state and local policy program at the U’s Humphrey Institute, said he was surprised at how detailed the DMC transportation plans got.
If you’re a light rail operator, the final weeks of 2015 were probably disturbing. Within just a few weeks, there were three separate fatal crashes involving a train, ranging from a bicyclist to a wheelchair user to someone crossing a platform. ... “The key is to design things intentionally that really channel attention and behavior through designing from a human-centered systems design perspective," according to Kathleen Harder, who holds a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and directs the Center for Design in Health at the University of Minnesota.
From the imperfect bulges of Earth's surface to the minute geographies of blood vessels, algorithms are only now beginning to truly understand spaces. Geometry is easy to oversimplify and generalize, especially when it comes to computation, but in our GPS-enabled world, simplifications have big consequences. This is the argument, anyway, put forth in this month's Communications of the ACM by University of Minnesota computer scientist Shashi Shekhar: Spatial computing is the future and it's time to make it an interdisciplinary research focus.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is trying something new when it comes to salting the roads. Megan Moeller from the Olmsted County Public Works Department says that a study done by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Transportation found that a majority of the salt on the ground find its way into the water.
The Drive explores when and where U-turns are legal and who has the right-of-way. Work by the U of M's HumanFIRST Laboratory is mentioned.
The region’s first arterial bus rapid transit line will see nine new shelters installed along Snelling Avenue in the coming weeks, bringing the project closer to its early- to mid-2016 operating goal. ... BRT stations include some of the same features of LRT such as fare machines where riders will pay before boarding, stations with light, heat and bike racks, and a real-time Nextrip display with information on the next bus arrival. The Nextrip signs will be a major strength in defining the route as a transit corridor, said Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs who studies transit systems.
The Ontario government is tentatively dipping its toe into a form of tolling, promising a pilot project that would let people pay to drive in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on a stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Way.... “Not everybody has the same value of time, and even some people have different values of time at different times,” said David Levinson, a transportation analyst and professor at the University of Minnesota.
Southwest metro commuters are fed up with the congested Minnesota River crossings they use to get to and from work. Though some efforts are being made to address the problem — including the new County Road 101 bridge that opened last week — estimates suggest those fixes aren’t long-term solutions.... People tend to change their travel patterns in response to new transportation options, said Frank Douma, a transportation researcher at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. But those changes are tough to predict.
U of M professor David Levinson writes that recent statistics from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute suggest congestion is rising. A congested city, compared to exactly the same city where everyone can move faster, has lower accessibility (the number of places travelers can reach in a given time is reduced). This limits people’s ability to interact, and thus reduces economic activity, but congestion is also a signifier of economic activity. All the great cities are congested.
A new report has identified the 50 worst traffic bottlenecks in the country, and none in the Twin Cities area made the list.... Our traffic jams are short-lived compared to metro areas where “they don’t distinguish between morning and afternoon rush hours since they have a constant rush hour from morning to night,” said John Hourdos of the University of Minnesota Traffic Observatory.
Metro Transit's quest to find a speedier option to connect the Twin Cities' light-rail lines and beyond is coming soon. Starting next year, the "A Line," a $27 million bus rapid-transit project with features similar to light rail, will run along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway in St. Paul to connect Rosedale Center in Roseville to the 46th Street light-rail station in Minneapolis. The line will be the first of a dozen bus rapid-transit lines that the Metropolitan Council has proposed in recent years. It comes at a time when more Americans are settling in the urban core, reversing a decades-long trend of moving out to the suburbs.... "It does better than traditional bus service," said Jason Cao, associate professor at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Cao added that BRT would be an improvement to the current bus route's quality.
U of M professor David Levinson writes that when surface-transportation policy was last significantly overhauled in the United States, in 1991, Americans who wanted to travel to an unfamiliar location used paper maps, usually purchased from a bookstore or gas station. If they were on a toll road, they stopped at the tollbooths and rolled down the window. They listened to an AM/FM radio, a cassette tape, or maybe, if they had a new car, a compact disc. The car of the future was equipped with a fax machine.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been operating the "Living Snow Fences" program for about 15 years. Farmers receive a stipend for participation. Using a program developed through the University of Minnesota Extension and Mn/DOT, the program calculates cost-benefit of a clean, safe highway. The farmer’s cost of corn left on the stalk and the money used to mobilize harvesting equipment in the spring.
Distracted driving contributes to one in four crashes in Minnesota, and in 2014, driver inattention or distraction contributed to 61 deaths and nearly 8,000 injuries on Minnesota roads. The risky behavior continues despite strengthened laws that went into effect in August 2015. At the Towards Zero Deaths conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota law enforcement officers struggling to enforce the vast epidemic learn science could be partially to blame. In late October, New York Times reporter Matt Richtel opened the conference with his Pulitzer Prize winning work, examining a biological shift inside the brain of a cell phone user.
Trucking is looking at a significant shortage of drivers -- 48,000 open positions in an industry of 800,000 -- and trying to figure out how it will fill that hole. Is trucking in crisis or is the pendulum about to swing the other way? "It's not clear where the new truck drivers are coming from as baby boomers age out," said Stephen Burks, an economist who studies the trucking industry at the University of Minnesota Morris.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation charges motorists driving alone anywhere from 25 cents to $8 during peak periods to use the special lanes that are otherwise reserved for carpools of two or more people, buses and motorcycles. But just how much a solo driver is charged is determined by an old complex algorithm operated by an outside vendor. That’s about to change. MnDOT has been working with the University of Minnesota Traffic Observatory to develop a new algorithm that will be run in-house and should better set tolls and control how fast prices rise or fall.
Midwestern cities are being forced to find a new, post-blue collar manufacturing identities. Minneapolis and St. Paul are no exception, but unlike places like Detroit, the Twin Cities — less than 12 miles apart — have made a relatively smooth transition, becoming a curious case study for urban renewal minus the upheaval. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School, explains.
Although praised as environmentally friendly in comparison with other bridge types, wooden bridges are prone to deterioration caused by moisture in the wood, as well as by fungi, insects, and mechanical damage. This damage often occurs within the wood, not on the surface, making the deterioration difficult to detect. Several organizations collaborated on a project to develop a comprehensive research and evaluation program to address the evaluation and inspection of timber bridges using state-of-the-art technology to address deterioration and save money. UMD Natural Resources Research Institute and Minnesota LTAP are included in the project.
When Royalston and the other Minneapolis stations remained in the revised alignment, the issue of ridership was set aside. But it provided a glimpse into a perennial conflict in the planning of big and expensive transportation projects: How do public officials figure out how many people will use them? And do the numbers reflect reality — or simply a desire to fulfill the wishes of the project’s supporters? University of Minnesota professor David Levinson explains.
The Transportationist blog by University of Minnesota professor David Levinson points us to data showing the long decline of annual work hours among developed Western nations. CityLab charted a handful of the labor-hour trajectories below. The trends are remarkably consistent across countries: people have been working less and less since the Industrial Revolution, with total hours falling from around 3000 a year toward the 1500-1800 range.
Over the course of the year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation estimates Twin Cities metro drivers sit in traffic for 34 hours. So, what is the best lane for rush hour? Good Question. MTO lab manager Stephen Zitzow says any perturbation, or deviation, can cause a shockwave that slows traffic.
A complete overhaul of the region’s bus signs began Tuesday as Metro Transit seeks to make the local bus, the backbone of the transit system, less mysterious for prospective riders. A $300,000 effort by Metro Transit will add route numbers and other helpful information, and a smartphone app is coming soon.... “It’s especially important in converting nonusers into users,” said David Levinson, a University of Minnesota professor and transportation expert.
The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Historical Society have partnered up through the U’s Resilient Communities Project. A Waconia farmstead is one of 32 proposed projects in Carver County during the one-year partnership. Each year, a city or county is chosen to work with students and faculty from university courses ranging from engineering to environmental sciences.... The U plans to offer a course focused on turning the property into a historic tourist destination, said Mike Greco, Resilient Communities Project director.
There are plenty of other benefits that have nothing to do with drivers.... Other benefits to transit include better overall access to the city (especially jobs), greater mobility for people who don’t drive (for reasons of choice, health, or income), and of course improved sustainability. There’s a basic equity issue here, too, captured by transport scholar David Levinson in a great essay earlier this year at streets.mn explaining why “it warps thinking that the aim of public transit funding is to benefit those non-transit users.”
The University of Minnesota was awarded a $12 million grant from the National Science Foundation earlier this year in order to help scientists at the school create a team of researchers to study how urban infrastructure could adapt to the changing needs of cities. Yingling Fan, an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the Humphrey School, is quoted.
U of M professor Tom Fisher writes about urban planner Joe Minicozzi, who says our poorly maintained streets stem largely from the low-density developments that arose in this country over the past 70 years, resulting in an enormous mismatch between the cost of fixing our extensive infrastructure and the taxes generated by sprawl. Minicozzi makes his case with compelling three-dimensional maps of the data, showing the extent and depth of the problem in all but the most built-up parts of our cities.
Editorial: The city is now partnered with Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota in the MetroLab Network, bringing together city leaders and academics to research, develop and deploy analytical and technological solutions to problems cities face.... The two cities and the U have formalized an agreement to work together, committing to engaging in three projects in 2016. Of about 25 such partnerships around the nation, ours is the only one involving two cities and an academic partner.
At the University of Minnesota researchers are teaming up with city planners, nonprofit leaders, and industry professionals to form solutions that tackle these emerging challenges and prepare communities for the future. These partnerships take advantage of the prevalence of data and technology in society to open new doors for smarter decision making that can lead to more livable, sustainable and resilient cities. The U’s efforts to implement advanced smart cities concepts are part of a growing trend among research universities and technology companies across the U.S. that’s already taken root among global cities, especially in Europe and Asia.
As part of a nationwide effort, the University of Minnesota is collaborating with St. Paul and Minneapolis leaders in order to improve infrastructure and increase citizen involvement in the area. The partnership, announced Sept. 14, is part of a plan called the MetroLab Network, which aims to connect universities and cities in addressing urban developmental issues.... The next step, according to University Urban and Regional Planning Associate Professor Carissa Slotterback, will be creating workshops for University and city leaders — which could include researchers from the University’s Center for Transportation Studies, Informatics Institutes, and Law School — to identify specific project goals.
Metro Transit officials are seeking to build a new business model—one that partners more with nonprofit and private organizations—to move people away from the one-car, one-occupant model. One of the driving ideas behind a new system, which is attracting national attention: a single tool, such as an app or fare card, that could access "all non-drive-alone modes" of transportation.
Researchers from the University of Minnesota are in St. Peter, Minnesota, using LiDAR technology measuring traffic flow. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging, or light and radar, using lasers to determine the distance to an object. The research group is using the technology to create algorithms to measure traffic patterns. They came to St. Peter for help with their research, using the intersection of Washington and Broadway Avenues. University of Minnesota Research Fellow Brian Davis is interviewed.
The U of M has teed up an idea—for greener practices—on the green. It involves less water—and fewer chemicals. At the University of Minnesota, turf science professors Eric Watkins and Brian Horgan have 186 plots of grass that could change golf courses everywhere.... The turf these scientists are developing may be slightly more brown than traditional golf course grass. But it promises to make the courses greener. These varieties need less fertilizer and substantially less water.
As the Metropolitan Council prepares to work with local cities on their comprehensive plans, Council staff and leaders are working with local researchers to better understand industry clusters and how local planning decisions and regional infrastructure investments can encourage private investment. The Council’s Committee of the Whole recently invited Lee Munnich, Director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota, and U of M professor Yingling Fan to present and discuss their research on industry clustering.
Highlights of the underground Civil Engineering building includes the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, and how researchers there study how traffic moves through the metro area.
Starting this fall, University of Minnesota students in several different disciplines will begin studying different issues in 14 projects as part of a partnership with Carver County. The studies, with additional 16 planned for spring, are the development of Resilient Communities Project (RCP) which kicked off with a banquet at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum on Friday, Sept. 11.... RCP Executive Director Mike Greco said the diversity of Carver County projects is what made the application.
A new collaboration between Metro Transit and Hourcar could make hopping off public transit and getting in a personal vehicle a little easier. Hourcar, a Twin Cities car sharing service, launched a partnership with Metro Transit on Friday, making Hourcar services accessible through Go-To transit passes. And some say the new relationship could make different transportation options more readily available. The partnership will allow Go-To card, U-Pass , Metropass, and College Pass holders to check out an Hourcar at one of its pickup locations. Frank Douma with the U of M Humphrey School comments.
Partnership between Hourcar and Metro Transit could lead to more fare payment integration. Frank Douma, a research fellow who studies transportation policy at the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the goal of being able to use one card for multiple transit uses has been the holy grail.
Cites new research by Assistant Professor Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School about gender differences in commuting times.
By focusing on the narrow window of the peak period, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute's “Urban Mobility Scorecard” doesn’t actually do a good job of scoring urban mobility—and instead arrives at some solutions that could hurt it. Meanwhile, other researchers—with Minnesota’s Accessibility Observatory leading the way—are now mapping job access instead of just quantifying gridlock to show why the rush-hour battle is often worth it.
The U of M's David Levinson was one of four panelists in a discussion on the future of global freight infrastructure held at the 2015 CV-Outlook. The freight infrastructure panel spanned topics like smart highways, vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity, coming safety technology mandates, and where the U.S. stands globally in truck freight efficiency.
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute recently unveiled their semi-regular report on urban traffic congestion. While the focus and themes of the report are largely the same as previous years, big changes are underway in how we study, think about, and address metropolitan traffic congestion. One example is a new focus not on movement or mobility of vehicles but rather on the accessibility the system provides for people. For instance, David Levinson compares Manhattan, Kansas to Manhattan, New York. Traffic in the latter is infamously bad, especially compared to the former, but Levinson estimates that Manhattan, NY, is “20 times as accessible as Manhattan, Kan., despite speeds that are, at best, half as fast.”
Behind the buzzers, lights and friendly competition in rounds to be played at 10:30 a.m. and noon on the University of Minnesota stage, the goal is to share innovative transportation research going on at the U and engage the public on important issues, said Laurie McGinnis, director of the U’s Center for Transportation Studies.... The onstage game will augment a host of exhibits featuring researchers’ recent and current studies, including one led by Greg Lindsey in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Women have traditionally spent less time than men commuting (that sounds like a good thing, until you realize that it reflects fewer job opportunities) and more time traveling for household errands. With gender norms fading in the home and at work, you might expect these gaps in travel habits to narrow as well. That’s been true to some extent in Europe, but not so much in the U.S.—where the differences endure today, according to new research. The work was published in the journal Transportation by public policy scholar Yingling Fan of the University of Minnesota. “I think it’s very convincing that the gender gap still exists,” she tells CityLab. “And it’s important that policymakers pay specific attention to women’s travel needs.”
MnDOT recently announced that a section of Highway 169 from Bren Road to 7th Street will be completely shut down for as long as a year beginning in the fall of 2016. The closure will allow the complete re-construction of the bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Edina. Traffic expert John Hourdos believes it's more efficient to rebuild the bridge all together, like MnDOT plans, instead of in parts.
Anyone who’s ever relied on public transportation knows that waiting can be the worst part. Even with apps that provide arrival estimates, riders can still find themselves at a loss—straining their eyes in hopes of seeing train lights in the distance, or furiously checking phones while wondering what on earth is holding up a delayed bus. But a new U of M study by Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, and David Levinson suggests that the feelings of frustration associated with waiting can differ significantly depending on how gross a station is, and that simple improvements could make that maddening wait time seem much shorter.
Research by Mark Ditmer, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, finds that drones, or UAVs, could be stressing out wildlife, scientists suggest.
The University of Minnesota has received a $12 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to bring together a unique network of scientists, industry leaders, and policy partners committed to building better cities of the future. The network will connect across nine research universities, major metropolitan cities in the U.S. and India, as well as infrastructure firms, and policy groups.
David Levinson found himself stranded on a narrow slab of concrete on University Avenue recently, sandwiched between light-rail tracks as two Green Line trains approached, one from the east and one from the west, both blaring their horns. Levinson, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, could have become the latest casualty on the Green Line, where close calls like his are a daily occurrence....
Tucked along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, this city of 28,000 serves as the scenic home of a cluster of high-tech industries. Lee Munnich, who studies manufacturing clusters at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School, helps explain why.
Inside a little St. Paul garage, they're developing a big idea. You've heard of radar, but how about LiDAR? As Brian Davis, a research fellow with the Roadway Safety Institute at the University of Minnesota, explains, LiDAR is like radar but with light. It's already used for things like archeology, forestry, and geology, but Davis believes LiDAR could also be used for traffic management.
The University of Minnesota is partnering with a navigation and mapping company to create a dataset that shows accessibility to jobs by vehicles and mass transit.
A team of consultants are studying four key areas where St. Paul Public Works could do a better job, from snow plowing to budgeting and accounting. As part of this effort, they've tapped outside experts—including CTS Director Laurie McGinnis.
Unless you rely on public transit or live within walking distance of work, school and everywhere in between, commuting by car is necessary. For many of us, that unfortunately means being on the road about 200 hours each year — in addition to more than 40 hours stuck in traffic. In working-class terms, a total of 240 hours is the equivalent of a six-week vacation.... We compared our sample across 21 key metrics, among which are average gas prices, average annual traffic delays, rates of car theft, and car clubs per capita. The results, as well as expert commentary (including CTS research scholar Michael Iacono) and a detailed methodology, can be found below.
Hispanics are more than twice as likely to use ride-sharing applications like Uber and Lyft on a regular basis than the average voter, according to a recent poll. U of M professor Saif Benjafaar said the disproportionate number of Hispanics living on the West Coast, where ride-hailing apps are more popular, might account for their higher rate of usage.
In St. Paul, workers using public transit can access 2,000 more jobs than before the debut of the Green Line light rail, according to a new analysis from the University of Minnesota's Accessibility Observatory.
There has been a striking drop in the number of people killed and injured in teenage car crashes in the past 20 years, but no one seems certain just why.... A University of Minnesota study this year found that a smartphone device in cars that disables teen phones in the car and texts parents in real time if the driver speeds, runs a stop sign or drives erratically would help improve focus.
Far more Twin Cities residents are bicycling or walking to work than U.S. Census numbers reported, according to a new detailed analysis of transportation habits. The University of Minnesota study set to be released later this month calculates the number of people getting to work on foot or bike is two to three times larger than Census estimates.
MnDOT is looking for farmers to leave rows of corn stalks standing through the winter to help reduce snow that blows onto state highways and interstates where drifting is a problem. Research conducted by MnDOT, the University of Minnesota Extension Service, and CTS show standing corn rows reduced the severity of injuries on curves by 40 percent.
University research could be used to create a mobile app to reduce accidents in rural areas. Brian Davis strapped a video camera to the outside of a car last year and set off to record the painted lines and contours of Greater Minnesota’s major roads and highways. By recording this data, Davis and a group of University of Minnesota researchers developed a cheap yet efficient way to help people driving in unfavorable conditions in rural Minnesota.
It's almost the legislative session's 11th hour, and some Minnesotans continue to raise questions about the cost assumptions on which lawmakers base their work to fix the state's roads and bridges.... In finding a way forward, it will be helpful to put transportation revenue sources into a broader context, Zhirong "Jerry" Zhao, an associate professor and transportation-finance scholar at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, told us.
Transportation services in Dakota County are like a bowl of pasta. At least that’s how researchers and officials have taken to describing them — a tangled “spaghetti” of agencies and volunteers that get different funds and do not coordinate efforts, leading to service gaps. People spend up to three hours just to get to a medical appointment, with bus transfers and wait time. Other residents attend technical colleges and training programs outside the county because they can’t get to local colleges, a study by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies found. The county hopes to change its service system — or lack thereof — by creating a Transportation Coordinating Collaborative, one of seven recommendations in the Center for Transportation Studies report.
CTS published a report this month that found investing in transportation yields a greater return than previously thought, and some say the results are the first step to providing concrete data on the benefits of offering additional funding to roads and highways in the state.
Heather Brown finds out that the areas with the highest number of drivers generally have the most congestion. Minnesota Traffic Observatory lab manager Stephen Zitzow comments.
TomTom's latest traffic study ranks the Twin Cities as the 35th most congested metro in America. Accessibility Observatory director Andrew Owen comments.
The University’s Center for Transportation Studies published a report last month that found an amendment to a state law — which exempts low-level speeding tickets from being placed onto driver’s records — doesn’t produce any significant changes in travel reliability, safety or efficiency. Instead, researchers found people are unaware of how the amendment affects them, and it may increase drivers’ insurance rates.
Minnesota buses equipped with lane-assist technology offer a glimpse at the promise of driverless transit. Currently there are 10 such buses, operated by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, using technology developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota.
Big city sidewalks can feel like an inexplicable dance of elbows and shopping bags and baby strollers and pigeons and texting. But a group of crowd scientists led by U of M researcher Ioannis Karamouzas has whittled the chaos to its core and found that, far from unpredictable, foot traffic follows a mathematical formula elegant for its simplicity.
Flashing yellow arrows permit motorists to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing a statistical model to help determine whether a flashing yellow arrow would be safe at a given place.
It's tough enough for the visually impaired to get around town. Throw in some construction zones and the difficulty level goes up a notch or two. However, an app in the works by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and University of Minnesota researchers is working to make it a bit easier.
Several media stories about of the teen driver support system, developed and piloted by a research team led by Janet Creaser, research fellow in Mechanical Engineering, with funding from the ITS Institute and the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The Teen Driver Support System smartphone app was developed after nearly 10 years of work. The U is now exploring whether the app can be commercialized.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. That’s why researchers at the University of Minnesota are using smart phones to keep teens safe behind the wheel. The Teen Driver Support System, or TDSS, is like having an extra parent in the car at all times.
Frank Douma, a research fellow and associate director of the State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, said the University is poised to benefit from Dayton’s plan because it is a transit-intensive area. “Everybody would feel the impact with paying the up-to-half-cent additional sales tax in what they purchase, but it will come back in increased investment in transit,” Douma said.
University of Minnesota Professor David Levinson is quoted about the use of value capture as a transportation funding mechanism. Read more about value capture research.
Right now, in Minnesota, certain highway speeding tickets won't go on your driving record. But a new Minnesota Department of Transportation report from a project led by the U of M's Frank Douma says that this is putting public safety at risk.
As lawmakers debate whether — and how — to fix roads and add transit routes and bike/pedestrian paths, transportation experts at the University of Minnesota have compiled a database to fuel those quantitative discussions. The Minnesota Transportation Finance Database, part of a multiyear Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness project funded by the 2013 Legislature, is jointly run by the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and its Center for Transportation Studies.
If traditional traffic lights were replaced with virtual ones, the results could include not only a reduction of up to 40 percent in urban workers' commute times, but also lower carbon emissions, less congestion and fewer accidents. According to U of M professor David Levinson, however, getting them deployed anytime soon will be difficult.
With new bike lanes, rapid busways and expanding light-rail lines, commuters in the Twin Cities have more options than ever. But low gas prices could mean slightly more road congestion, said University of Minnesota professor David Levinson.
Local officials and the general public are largely in the dark about the nation’s freight railroads, which carry growing volumes of flammable crude oil, while state and federal governments have limited authority and oversight. And when it comes to rail bridge safety, the industry is generally left to police itself. ... Railroad bridge failures are rare, said Frank Douma, a research fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and the Center for Transportation Studies. Yet he acknowledges the stakes are higher when trains are hauling hazardous materials.
Transit experts agree that smart station design is critical to encourage use of the light-rail system in the Twin Cities.... Posted schedules and announcements of impending trains are crucial to attracting and keeping transit passengers, said Yingling Fan, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Carissa Schively Slotterback, associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joins Peter Bell, former chair of the Metropolitan Council, to talk about the role of the Met Council in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.
It’s easy to chuckle at the thought of robot cars. But there’s one simple reason that self-driving cars are inevitable: The current status quo is very bad. Because we all do it almost all the time, it’s easy to forget that driving around in cars all the time is extremely deadly.
The second story in the 5 Eyewitness News series, Rebuilding Minnesota, focuses traffic signals. MnDOT sponsored University of Minnesota researchers to develop SMART Signal, a system that collects real time traffic data continuously, and creates information that can be used to fine-tune traffic timing to minimize drivers' time stopped at red lights.
This is the first report in a new recurring series from 5 Eyewitness News, Rebuilding Minnesota, which is designed to dig for ways to make Minnesota's transportation system work for you—because many Minnesotans believe it's not working as well as it should be.
Transportation and planning officials predict that so-called autonomous vehicles could free up land for development, reshape housing and increase density in the urban core.
Metro Transit will start testing a plan this December to replace the region's ubiquitous "Bus Stop" signs with new placards featuring route information, frequencies, maps and instructions to access real-time arrival data.
Yingling Fan's and David Levinson's research about Twin Cities' transit rider experiences at bus and station stops is cited. "'Having a shelter makes a big difference in people’s perceived waiting time,' Fan explained to me. 'This indicates that it’s important to provide bus shelters at stops. We also found that posted schedule was important, and that people perceiving they are safe at stops was important, especially for female riders.'”
Minnesota's fall harvest has begun, and when the combines are finished, immense piles of corn are likely to dot the countryside. One reason for this: the railroads are packed. Even before the harvest began, railroads were struggling to keep up with demand for shipping Bakken crude oil, coal, taconite and other commodities, especially in North Dakota. Jerry Fruin, a specialist in transportation economics at the University of Minnesota, offers his thoughts.
Cornstalks may be the best defense in the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s battle to keep rural roads open when the snow flies. As the harvest begins, this week the agency is asking farmers with fields bordering state highways to leave several rows of corn standing until spring. To boost participation, MnDOT teamed with the University of Minnesota Extension Service on a pilot project that pairs farmers with groups such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America chapters.
Is public transportation only for the rich? It’s a question more people should be asking. And people don’t pay just with money for daily commutes. Humphrey School's Yingling Fan says that we also need to consider the time commuters spend in traveling around a city.
New signs near three rest areas along eastbound Interstate 94 now tell truck drivers how many parking spaces are available. The signs are part of a pilot project led by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the University of Minnesota designed to give truckers real-time information about where they can find a safe place to pull off the road.
How many times have you thought about what’s underneath your shoes and tires? If the engineers had their way, you’d never think of about pavement at all.
A new mapping tool that spotlights clusters of industry activity is revealing a fascinating picture of a dynamic Midwestern region with a diverse and vibrant array of manufacturing clusters fueling a regional economic rebound.
Just nine days after Minneapolis officials approved the Southwest Corridor light-rail line, a group of residents filed suit in federal court seeking to block the controversial $1.65 billion project. ... Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies, said large mass-transit projects attract litigation because "there are a lot of interests involved, and you’re not going to be able to please all of the people all of the time."
Attendees at NCSL’s Street Smart: Innovations in Traffic Safety Pre-Conference in Minneapolis heard from Janet Creaser with U of M's Roadway Safety Institute about her study of the Teen Driver Support System. The system is an application that was installed on teen drivers’ phones to increase teen driver safety.
A simple shelter can make the wait for a Twin Cities bus feel shorter than it actually is, based on new research from the University of Minnesota.
University of Minnesota professors David Levinson (Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering) and Kathy Quick (Humphrey School of Public Affairs) participate in a panel on the anniversary of the 35W bridge collapse about bridge safety and the future of transportation.
How many people will board the five proposed Southwest light rail stops outside of downtown in Minneapolis? Depends on how optimistic you are about transit-oriented development. University of Minnesota professor David Levinson comments.
Who pays when driverless cars have accidents? U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Center for Transportation Studies' Frank Douma comments on insurance for driverless vehicles.
Bicyclists planning routes throughout the state can now use an editable, interactive online map called Cyclopath to help customize their trips, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Cyclopath, developed at the University of Minnesota, is designed to find bicycle routes using ratings from other bicyclists.
Traffic jams are forcing frustrated Twin Cities commuters to waste more time behind the wheel. And that growing congestion has pushed the metro area up to No. 16 on the list of America’s Worst Traffic Cities, according to the seventh-annual Traffic Scorecard Report, released this week by a global traffic-tracking company called INRIX. ... Depending on the methodology, rankings put the Twin Cities between the 13th- and 16th-largest U.S. metro area, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota.
Self-driving cars someday will be commonplace in this country, a panel of experts affirmed at a robotics conference in downtown St. Paul on Tuesday. But it won't happen in the next few years — and could take decades — given the many roadblocks in the way of such technology flourishing on U.S. highways, the panelists added. U of M Humphrey School's Frank Douma and Leili Fatehi comment.