Travel behavior study shows drivers are spending less time traveling and more time at home

travelbehaviorSomething unprecedented has happened to Americans’ travel patterns. Even before the recent recession, total distance traveled per person had started to decline, and the rate of total vehicle travel had begun to steadily decrease as well.

In a new five-part series of research reports sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council, U of M researchers are delving into a set of rich data encompassing more than four decades of travel behavior surveys to enable the region’s transportation planners to better understand how its residents make decisions about whether, when, where, and why to travel.

Posted in Accessibility, Planning, Transportation research, Travel Behavior

Autonomous vehicles: The legal and policy road ahead

Autonomous Autonomous Vehicle Autonomous vehicles could spark transformative changes not just in mobility, but also in matters as diverse as urban form and retail shopping. At a conference held by the University of Minnesota, state and national leaders explored the various legal, ethical, technical, and policy dimensions of these vehicles.

The conference, held October 31, featured more than 25 leaders from academia, government, industry, and other interests.

Posted in Events, Intelligent vehicles, Planning, Technology, Uncategorized

Will rising trip productivity change travel choices?

TravelA common assumption among transportation planners is that commuters want to minimize their travel time—and that they’ll pay good money to do so. But what if the ability to multitask while traveling alters that choice? Commuters might pick transit over a car—even when the transit alternative takes longer—if it allows them to use their travel time more productively.

“Multitasking is a hallmark of modern life that has the potential to impact not just our transportation behavior but also our location behavior,” says Patricia Mokhtarian, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

At the CTS Fall Luncheon in December, Mokhtarian discussed her latest research that sheds light on the impact of multitasking behaviors and attitudes on commuters’ mode choice.

Posted in Events, Planning, Public transit, Technology, Transportation research, Travel Behavior

CTS winter research seminars

Join us in person on the U of M campus or tune in online to our winter research seminars. They’re open to anyone interested in learning more transportation research at the U of M. There’s no cost to attend, and

Posted in Environment, Events, Infrastructure, Pavements, Planning, Public transit, Safety, Transportation research, Uncategorized

New permitted left-turn model helps improve intersection safety

33705In recent years, the transportation community has introduced significant changes to improve left-turn safety at signalized intersections—and for good reason. Nationally, intersection crashes represent one-fifth of all fatal crashes, and most of these are crashes involving left turns.

In response to this serious safety problem, the FHWA has adopted a new national standard for permissive left turns: the flashing yellow arrow. This signal warns drivers that they should proceed with a left turn only after yielding to any oncoming traffic or pedestrians. Flashing yellow arrow signals can help prevent crashes, move more traffic through an intersection, and provide additional traffic management flexibility.

To help engineers make more informed decisions about when to use flashing yellow arrows, U of M professor Gary Davis is leading the development of a model that could help predict the probability of left-turn crash risk at a given intersection at different times of day. This model—which will ultimately be available as a set of spreadsheet tools—will help traffic engineers determine when the crash risk is sufficiently low to allow for the safe use of flashing yellow arrows.

Posted in Safety, Traffic operations, Transportation research

Transit shelters and other amenities affect perceived wait times


Time seems to fly when you’re having fun, but not when you’re waiting for a bus at an unsheltered stop. In a new study, U of M researchers found that several factors can have a measurable impact on riders’ perceptions of wait times. A shelter can make the wait seem shorter, for example, whereas for women, unsafe conditions can make the wait seem longer.

The study, sponsored by the Transitway Impacts Research Program (TIRP), grew out of the interest of several TIRP partners to learn how riders’ perceptions of wait time is affected by transit shelters, amenities such as posted schedules, and characteristics of surrounding areas. “Waiting time is a convenient way to measure how burdened a waiter feels,” explains Andrew Guthrie, research fellow with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Posted in Public transit, Transportation research

New systems monitor stormwater runoff from road construction sites

Transportation practitioners have new tools to help keep road construction runoff out of our waters, thanks to research from the University of Minnesota.

During a rainfall, eroded sediment from a site can be quickly transported to nearby lakes or rivers. Because of these negative impacts, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requires that the owner and operator create a stormwater pollution prevention plan explaining the practices to be used to limit sediment discharge from their sites.

Posted in Construction, Environment, Transportation research
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