U of M researchers shared their work in more than 35 sessions at this year’s Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, on January 7-11. Their posters and papers covered a wide range of topics, including public transportation accessibility, autonomous vehicles, highway safety performance, bike sharing, and pavements.
In addition, 20 graduate students received travel awards to attend the meeting, where they presented research and networked with other attendees.
The Roadway Safety Institute’s seminar series kicks off this week! Join us for the first seminar on January 18 to hear how University of Minnesota researchers have designed in-vehicle systems for high-risk drivers.
The series, held on Thursdays from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Central, features leading roadway safety researchers in a wide range of disciplines. Seminars are free and open to anyone interested in learning more about transportation safety research. Undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and practitioners are encouraged to attend.
While people generally support investing in transportation infrastructure, they fiercely oppose increases in user fees or taxes to support this investment. This funding problem is further compounded by the opaqueness of transportation revenue mechanisms such as the gas tax, which makes it difficult for the traveling public to easily discern how much they pay for infrastructure and what value they derive from it.
In the opening session of CTS’s annual Research Conference last month, Joung Lee, policy director at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), examined the latest direction in infrastructure funding at the federal level, offered examples of innovation happening at the state level, and discussed policy and political considerations when it comes to transportation revenue and financing tools.
Grain and medical technology may not seem to have much in common, but they share at least one trait: both are key industry clusters that help drive Minnesota’s economy. At a roundtable held by the U’s Transportation Policy and Economic Competitiveness (TPEC) Program, speakers discussed trends in grain and medical-sector supply chains and the implications for freight transportation policy and investments.
TPEC director Lee Munnich opened the event. “Transportation is necessary—but not sufficient—for economic growth,” he said. “In our research, we look at how well the transportation system is working for the economy, and in particular, for the industry clusters that are so important to an area.”
To prepare for autonomous vehicles (AVs), states have complex challenges to address—not the least of which is anticipating a mix of AVs and regular vehicles on their roads for decades. During the TZD statewide conference October 26, Jim Hedlund, principal of Highway Safety North, shared this and other findings from a recent report he authored for the Governor’s Highway Safety Association.
AVs are not necessarily driver-less. Rather, these vehicles are classified on a scale ranging from Level 1, which use established technologies such as adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance but still give control to the driver, to Level 5, which are completely self-driving at all times.
When all vehicles are autonomous, Hedlund said, transportation will become a service, rather than something people own, and crashes will be greatly reduced, since currently about 94 percent of crashes are caused by human error. But predicting just how quickly AVs will be adopted is complicated.
In November, CTS will conclude our 30th anniversary celebration at the annual Transportation Research Conference. The one-day event will celebrate CTS’s first 30 years and explore what comes next by presenting new learning, emerging ideas, and the latest innovations in transportation.
The conference will be held November 2 at the Commons Hotel on the U of M east bank campus. Plenary sessions will explore how we pay for transportation infrastructure and highlight transportation policy innovation.
For several generations, transportation policymakers and practitioners have favored a “mobility” approach, aimed at moving people and vehicles as fast as possible by reducing congestion. However, the limits of this approach have become more apparent over time, as residents struggle to reach workplaces, schools, hospitals, shopping, and numerous other destinations in an equitable and sustainable manner.
Researchers have been able to define this challenge more precisely and elevate the importance of “accessibility” over the past few decades, but the adoption of new policies, tools, and investments by practitioners remains slow and uneven across most regions. During CTS’s 2017 Spring Luncheon presentation, Brookings Institution fellow Adie Tomer offered highlights from the institution’s Moving to Access Initiative, which visualizes challenges of the current mobility model, impediments to adopting an accessibility-focused approach, and a vision for where metro areas can go from here.