Accessibility Observatory to provide annual ranking for cities

access1Major American cities get an annual report card on mobility. The reports focus chiefly on the speeds motorists can drive on highways. In coming years, however, cities will have another way of understanding their transportation systems thanks to the work of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.

The new observatory will go beyond congestion rankings to focus on accessibility: a measure that examines both land use and the transportation system.

The Accessibility Observatory, a program of CTS and the Department of Civil Engineering (CE), will focus on the research and application of accessibility-based transportation system evaluation.

The Observatory will be guided by a threefold mission:

  • To advance the field of transportation system evaluation through research of new data sources and methods for accessibility evaluation.
  • To develop standards and tools to facilitate the use and communication of accessibility-based metrics in transportation planning, engineering, and evaluation.
  • To apply its tools and expertise in support of continual improvements in the planning, design, engineering, and analysis of transportation systems.

CTS published the first report, called Access Across America, last spring. Access Across America evaluated accessibility provided by the road and highway systems in 51 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Access Across America provided aggregate metro-level accessibility metrics. The Accessibility Observatory will expand on this work by providing accessibility evaluations that can be analyzed at much smaller areas.

The observatory will also build on earlier work conducted at the University of Minnesota, including the Access to Destinations research study. The study, a multi-phase, multidisciplinary effort incorporating theoretical as well as practical research, built local expertise and prepared the University for next steps into the future of accessibility research and evaluation.

CTS is creating and hosting a new mobile-friendly and dynamic website for the Observatory. The site includes an interactive map/calculator, research reports, and other materials.

Read the full article in the November issue of Catalyst.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Urban transportation

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