Blog Archives

Traffic stress and biking to work: bike access to jobs should consider where people ride

MPLS_bike_LTS_3_2_with_legendBy Brendan Murphy, Lead Researcher, Accessibility Observatory, University of Minnesota

As the rate of bicycling continues to increase in North American cities, partly in accordance with placement of better bicycling facilities, it becomes all the more important to better understand to what destinations cyclists are traveling, and the specific routes they are using to get there. Properly measuring bicycle accessibility—a measure of how many jobs you can reach, by bike, in a certain amount of time—requires methodology distinctly different from what we use to measure accessibility by car, transit, or even walking.

Cars typically have few, if any, restrictions on where they may be driven, and while drivers do not always use the perfectly shortest path, transportation networks available to cars are considerably more robust and redundant than those afforded to bicycles. Transit networks are more similar, in that a limited number of (usually) fixed routes are available, but the user is still at the mercy of schedules. Walking as a travel mode is, while slow, thoroughly route-unrestricted aside from limited-access facilities such as interstates, so long as there is a suitable sidewalk. Choosing a route when bicycling is a much more sensitive affair—the shortest and quickest route may be legally bikeable, but often isn’t safe, and many cyclists would opt for a longer and more circuitous route if it were considerably safer. Calculating access to destinations by bicycle must account for these considerations, or else we are simply calculating accessibility by slow-moving car.

To account for these fundamental differences, we are currently incorporating Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) methodology into how we construct the networks on which we calculate bicycle accessibility.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Bicycling, Transportation research

New videos demonstrate the impacts of transportation research

At our Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony today, we launched an ongoing series of videos about the impacts of research. The series will take a high-level look at recent studies, focusing on the benefits and impacts to users. The short videos feature interviews with the people who implement research—such as MnDOT and Metro Transit staff—to improve Minnesota’s transportation systems.

Posted in Bicycling, Events, Public transit, Transportation research

Humphrey researchers ask new kinds of questions about infrastructure

hhh_questionsCTS Scholars in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs are testing their ideas for how we can make infrastructure work better to support healthier and happier cities.

This post highlights a few of their projects that are exploring bike sharing, public transit, and transportation funding.

Posted in Bicycling, Public transit, Transportation funding, Transportation research

Happiness: a new way to measure transportation systems

People experience different emotions during daily travel. Their happiness varies depending on the mode they use, trip duration, and other factors. U of M researchers are exploring how happiness could become a useful metric to assess transportation systems and guide policymaking, supplementing more common measures such as mobility and accessibility.

“Happiness is increasingly seen as a gauge of an individual’s well-being, and this has many social implications,” says Yingling Fan, associate professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “Happier people often are more productive and creative, have better family and social relationships, live longer, and, in general, are more successful.”

Americans spend, on average, about 75 minutes on daily trips. “Given the known benefits of emotional well-being, it’s important for planners and policymakers to understand the connection between transportation and happiness,” Fan says.

Posted in Bicycling, Planning, Public transit, Transportation research, Travel Behavior

Street design and bike sharing: A student’s reflection on visiting Nanjing

In May, the Global Transit Innovations (GTI) program coordinated a study-abroad course that took 16 University of Minnesota students to China. The intensive two-week course focused on high-density urban and regional development and included visits to five cities in the Yangtze and Pearl River Delta regions.

In this guest post, student Joe Polacek reflects on Nanjing, the third stop on the course’s itinerary. His highlights include an example of creative street design and experiences with Chinese bike-sharing systems.

Posted in Bicycling, Education, Planning, Sharing economy, Urban transportation

Healthy, equitable development in Twin Cities suburbs: report provides insight to overcome barriers

A new report by a team of researchers at the U of M’s Resilient Communities Project (RCP) provides insights into barriers stakeholders face to building healthier, more equitable developments in first-ring suburbs of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The report also suggests steps that could positively influence development decisions moving forward.

The Healthy and Equitable Development Project, funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Center for Prevention, was developed for over a year and focused on 18 developments within four cities: New Hope, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, and Richfield. It reflects the thoughts of community members, elected officials, city staff, and developers on the problems and opportunities around affordable living and active transportation.

Posted in Bicycling, Pedestrian, Planning, Public transit, Urban transportation

How equitable is bicycling infrastructure?

As the movement to promote bicycling as a means of transportation has grown, so has the amount of money governments and nonprofit organizations are investing in the nation’s urban bicycling infrastructure. A concern, however, is whether these investments are distributed equitably among neighborhoods.

In a new study, U of M researchers looked at this issue using Minneapolis as a case study and found that though inequities still exist, equity is improving.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Bicycling, Planning, Transportation research, Urban transportation
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