Blog Archives

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

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

Equity of bike share in Minneapolis–St. Paul

Last semester, 39 students in the U’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree program explored ways to integrate a Minneapolis neighborhood—the North Loop—into the sharing economy. Located just north of downtown in the Warehouse Historic District, the neighborhood has experienced revitalization and increasing property values in recent years. In the class, student teams created 13 proposals on topics such as parking reallocation and walkability.

This guest post, written by three students in the course, highlights their work related to bike sharing and equity.


As cities across the U.S.—from college towns to major urban centers—have introduced bike sharing into their mix of transportation options, elected officials, advocacy organizations, and social justice groups are raising questions about equity. Racial segregation and disparities continue to plague U.S. cities, and people are rightfully questioning whether bike sharing combats, perpetuates, or has little effect on these challenges. At the center of the conversation around bike sharing and equity are two questions: (1) What is the purpose of bike sharing? and (2) Who is bike sharing intended to serve?

We interrogated these questions for our final project in our Land-Use Planning course, taught by Fernando Burga, Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. With a focus on Minneapolis-St. Paul’s nonprofit Nice Ride bike sharing system, we examined the location of bike sharing stations in relation to demographic and economic data.

Posted in Bicycling, Education, Sharing economy, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Transportation Connections in Brooklyn park

sharedusephoto-300x199Car to Go. Hour Car. Uber. Lyft. Nice Ride. These and other “shared-use mobility” options are making their way into more cities across the country, including RCP’s partner community, Brooklyn Park. As the City prepares for the arrival of light-rail transportation (LRT) service and evaluates options for improving mobility for residents without access to an automobile, it is considering whether—and how—to integrate such services into its transportation planning.

As a suburban community, Brooklyn Park is nowhere near as dense as Minneapolis or St. Paul. This has created challenges for the City in thinking about how to include services like Hour Car or Uber as solutions to current transportation needs. They may not seem like an obvious choice for a suburb, but through robust community engagement efforts, City staff learned that residents were interested in more shared-use mobility alternatives. The City is now considering such options as a larger, targeted investment in transportation.

Posted in Education, Pedestrian, Planning, Public transit, Sharing economy, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Symposium sparks discussion of sharing economy’s promise—and perils

cts-sharingeconomysymposium2016-9905-240ppi-4928x3264A typical car sits unused for more than 95 percent of its service life. Cars are just one of many things—from meeting space to power tools—that are privately owned but barely used. Unlocking this excess capacity is the essential idea of the sharing economy, said Professor Saif Benjaafar, director of the U of M’s Initiative on the Sharing Economy and chair of the Symposium on the Sharing Economy, held last month in Minneapolis.

The two-day symposium was organized by the Initiative and sponsored by CTS and the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Minnesota. It consisted of a research workshop and a public forum.

Posted in Events, Sharing economy

Symposium on the Sharing Economy materials available

Did you miss last week’s Symposium on the Sharing Economy? Presentation slides and video recordings from the event are now available! The symposium began with a one-day workshop that brought together researchers from around the globe to discuss their work,

Posted in Events, Sharing economy

CTS Scholar Tom Fisher shares thoughts on design thinking, collaborative economy

CTS Scholar Tom Fisher, professor at the U of M’s College of Design and director of the Metropolitan Design Center, was recently highlighted in an online feature by Pollen.

Fisher shared his thoughts on driverless cars, design thinking, how the collaborative economy will shape cities in the future, and more.

Posted in Planning, Sharing economy, Technology, Urban transportation
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