Resilient Communities Project to partner with City of Ramsey

City of RamseyLast month, the U of M’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) announced that the City of Ramsey, located in Anoka County, will be its next partner community. During the 2017-2018 academic year, Ramsey and the U of M will work together on approximately 20 multidisciplinary projects from the city’s Strategic Plan.

Now in its fifth year, RCP is an initiative supported by the U’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs that organizes yearlong partnerships between the University and Minnesota communities, matching graduate and undergraduate students to projects identified by the chosen community. RCP’s goal is to provide the community with efficient access to the resources and expertise of the U, offer students a professional opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to a real-world project, and provide faculty with ready-made applied-learning opportunities for the classroom.

Posted in Education, Planning, Workforce development

Volunteer driver programs at risk from changing demographics, ridesharing services

Photo of elderly person being helped into a vehicleVolunteer drivers are a key component of human services transportation in Minnesota. They provide low-cost transportation for trips ranging from non-emergency medical appointments to general errands. Most of the organizations that use volunteer drivers are located in small towns or rural areas where dedicated transit services do not exist. But changing demographics and the rise of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft could put many volunteer driving programs at risk, according to a new U of M study.

The project, funded by the Minnesota Council on Transportation Access, examined volunteer driver programs in Minnesota. The objectives were to learn which organizations use volunteer drivers, how they organize and fund their volunteer driver programs, and what challenges and barriers they face.

Posted in Accessibility (for people with disabilities), Rural transportation, Sharing economy, Transportation research

Submit a proposal to the Local OPERA Program

Lake County OPERA projectDo you work for a local transportation agency in Minnesota? Do you or your maintenance staff need funding to develop a new idea, tool, material, or process related to operations, construction, or maintenance?

The Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program is here to help! Funding for OPERA projects is now available, and it’s easy to submit a proposal. The maximum funding per project is $20,000, and submissions are due Friday, May 12, 2017.

Posted in Construction, Maintenance

Videos on transportation research featured in new online resource collection

Screenshot of CIVIOS home screenLast week, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs launched CIVIOS, a new online collection of videos, podcasts, and other multimedia tools that translate public affairs research into easy-to-understand presentations.

The collection includes three new videos on transportation-related research conducted by CTS scholars Yingling Fan and Greg Lindsey.

Posted in Bicycling, Planning, Public transit, Transportation research

Work-zone warnings could soon be delivered to your smartphone

Photo of a work zoneImagine that you’re driving to work as usual when your smartphone announces, “Caution, you are approaching an active work zone.” You slow down and soon spot orange barrels and highway workers on the road shoulder. Thanks to a new app being developed by University of Minnesota researchers, this scenario is on its way to becoming reality.

“Drivers often rely on signs along the roadway to be cautious and slow down as they approach a work zone. However, most work-zone crashes are caused by drivers not paying attention,” says Chen-Fu Liao, senior systems engineer at the U’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory. “That’s why we are working to design and test an in-vehicle work-zone alert system that announces additional messages through the driver’s smartphone or the vehicle’s infotainment system.”

As part of the project, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Liao and his team investigated the use of inexpensive Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) tags to provide in-vehicle warning messages. The BLE tags were programmed to trigger spoken messages in smartphones within range of the tags, which were placed on construction barrels or lampposts ahead of a work zone.

Posted in Construction, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Technology, Transportation research

In memoriam: Richard P. Braun

Richard BraunRichard P. Braun, the founding director of CTS and a champion of transportation innovation, died this week at the age of 91.

Braun was the sole employee of CTS when it opened its doors in 1987. During his tenure, CTS issued its first request for proposals to University researchers, formed an advisory structure, and held its first annual research conference. In addition, two federally funded programs began operations as part of CTS: the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute (a federal University Transportation Center) and the Minnesota Technology Transfer Program (now the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program). Braun retired as director in 1994.

Posted in Uncategorized

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

36667April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month—a perfect time to remind all drivers to put safety first, put down their devices, and focus on driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed nearly 3,500 lives and injured approximately 391,000 people across the country in 2015. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

At the University of Minnesota, efforts to reduce distracted driving range from research projects to education initiatives.

Posted in Education, Safety, Transportation research
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