Blog Archives

New modeling for bike and ped traffic to improve planning and safety

bicyclist in downtown Minneapolis trafficGiving people more options to bike or walk to their destinations has been a high priority for transportation planners in recent years. But as the number of pedestrians and bicyclists using the transportation system increases, so does the potential for serious—or even deadly—crashes involving these high-risk road users.

“To best prevent bicycle and pedestrian crashes, transportation planners need a better idea of how many people are using nonmotorized transportation and what their exposure to risk is,” says Greg Lindsey, a professor in the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and researcher at the Roadway Safety Institute.

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Posted in Bicycling, Land use, Planning, Public transit, Safety, Traffic data, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Travel Behavior

Ruling the road: U of M researchers working to improve transportation

trafficImagine a world without traffic jams, car crashes, or highway pileups. A future where smartphones are no longer a distraction from safe driving, but rather a safety tool. A future where it’s easier for everyone to get where they need to be, whether they’re driving, busing, biking, or hoofing it.

This future may happen sooner than later, thanks to advancements from researchers in the U’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE). These researchers are helping to make our commutes smoother, our vehicles smarter, and our destinations more accessible.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Pedestrian, Safety, Technology, Traffic data, Transportation research

Smartphone app collects detailed data about travel behavior

Man on smartphoneTransportation agencies need travel behavior data to plan changes to their networks, systems, and policies. A new smartphone application developed by a U of M research team makes it easier and less costly to collect this important information and provides richer, more accurate data than traditional methods.

The Daynamica open-source app provides an efficient approach for collecting and processing data for driving, walking, biking or taking transit. It combines smartphone GPS sensing with statistical and machine-learning techniques to detect, identify, and summarize daily activity and travel episodes. The app then allows users to view and annotate information at their convenience.

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Posted in Planning, Technology, Traffic data, Travel Behavior

Spreadsheet tool helps determine when it’s safe to use flashing yellow arrows

33705A spreadsheet tool designed to help MnDOT and other agencies determine where and when it’s safe to use flashing yellow arrows is now available on the Minnesota Local Road Research Board website.

Flashing yellow arrows warn drivers that they can make a left turn only after yielding to any oncoming traffic or pedestrians. These signals can help prevent crashes, move more traffic through an intersection, and provide additional traffic management flexibility. The new spreadsheet tool helps traffic engineers determine when the crash risk at an intersection is sufficiently low to allow flashing yellow arrows to be implemented safely.

Posted in Safety, Traffic data, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Taking the guesswork out of measuring winter operations

Snow plowBeing able to accurately and reliably estimate traffic conditions during snow events is critical to transportation agencies.

Typically, state DOTs use measurements such as “time to bare pavement”—based on the visual inspection of plow drivers—to gauge the progress of snow operations. These estimates are limited, however, by the subjectivity and inconsistency of human-based measurements.

Now, new research sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and led by U of M Duluth civil engineering professor Eil Kwon aims to take the guesswork out of assessing traffic conditions during winter weather events.

Posted in Maintenance, Safety, Technology, Traffic data, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Using technology to provide real-time traffic data, improve safety

While the field of traffic monitoring has advanced rapidly over the past several years thanks to decreasing costs for sensing, communication, and computation, a few significant gaps remain. In a September 24 presentation, Daniel Work, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, discussed new approaches for providing real-time traffic data to roadway users.

Work’s presentation, given as part of the Roadway Safety Institute’s Seminar Series, focused on uniting navigation technologies with physical traffic processes to improve the safety and efficiency of roadways. Specifically, Work discussed a series of projects focused on finding ways to integrate traffic data with technology to provide drivers with data on traffic disruptions caused by rail grade crossings, large planned events, environmental incidents, and work zones.

Posted in Events, Infrastructure, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Technology, Traffic data, Transportation research, Urban transportation

Reducing fatal crashes and promoting safety culture with Minnesota’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan

rural road_curveThe Roadway Safety Institute’s 2015 Seminar Series kicked off September 10 with a presentation by Brad Estochen, a traffic safety engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Estochen’s presentation focused on the Minnesota Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), a comprehensive framework that combines both data and human input to tackle factors related to reducing fatal and serious injury crashes in the state.

Posted in Events, Planning, Safety, Traffic data
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