Understanding Pedestrian Travel Behavior and Safety in Rural Settings

Principal Investigator(s):

Greg Lindsey, Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs


  • John Hourdos, Former Research Associate Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project summary:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has identified Native American as one of six priority populations in the state that face disproportionate risks as pedestrians. This project summarized results from observations of pedestrian crossing behaviors on four Anishinaabe reservations in northern Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) videotaped and classified pedestrian crossings at 10 intersections identified by Tribal transportation managers as high priority because of perceived risks. Across the intersections, pedestrian crossing volumes during daylight hours ranged from three per day to 136 per day. The percent of pedestrian crossings that involved interactions with vehicles ranged from nine percent to 54 percent. Tribal transportation managers from the Bois Forte, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, and Mille Lacs Bands, MnDOT, county engineers, and the investigators collaborated to identify countermeasures to address risks to pedestrians. Proposed countermeasures varied by intersection and included vegetation removal and line-of-sight improvements, new lighting, crosswalk improvements, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons with advanced warning signs, ADA-compliant ramps, pedestrian education programs, realignment of intersections, and at one intersection a pedestrian hybrid beacon. Prospects for implementation of countermeasures vary by intersection and reservation and are contingent on tribal and transportation agency budgets, state and county plans for roadway improvements, and categorical grant programs such as Minnesota's Transportation Alternatives Program. Some countermeasures are being implemented, and MnDOT is extending the approach to additional reservations.

Project details: