Given the many benefits of parks, there’s growing interest in whether these green spaces are distributed equitably in urban areas. When researchers study park accessibility, they typically assume that people will use active modes of transportation (biking and walking) to reach their destinations. Few studies have considered automobile and transit accessibility.
A new analysis from the U of M helps fill this gap. It applies a comprehensive measure of park accessibility to determine the differences across space and population groups for Minneapolis and Saint Paul neighborhoods. Kristin Carlson and Jacqueline Nowak conducted the assessment last year as part of their graduate coursework for Professor Jason Cao of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
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.
With as many as three billion more people expected to live in cities by 2050, there’s renewed interest in a topic often taken for granted: infrastructure. Many are wondering if there are options better than vast highways, elaborate power grids, and complex underground water systems. And cities are already trying localized, “distributed” systems such as community solar power, rain gardens, bike sharing, and urban farms. But what should such systems look like? How should they work? And how should we measure their impact—on efficiency and cost? What about their impact on people’s health and happiness?
Researchers from across the globe are asking such questions as part of a massive four-year effort to rethink urban infrastructure. Knit together in the sprawling Sustainable Healthy Cities network, they are attempting to provide the analyses needed to understand the effects of decisions cities have already made as well as envision what cities might do in the future.
The network, supported by a $12 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, is anchored at the University of Minnesota. CTS Scholar Yingling Fan, an associate professor in urban and regional planning at the Humphrey School, is a co-principal investigator.
Many policymakers support transit-oriented development (TOD) for its potential to direct regional growth into a more efficient and sustainable pattern. However, the ability to achieve this public goal is largely dependent on private-sector decisions.
“The governments and agencies with the greatest desire for TOD have little ability to implement it through their own actions,” says Andrew Guthrie, a research fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “Conversely, the private-sector entities whose actions are needed to implement TOD may not share a city’s or regional planning body’s goals for transit-oriented growth patterns and built forms.”
This fundamental difference in perspectives demands creativity from planners and regional policymakers. In a new study, Guthrie and Associate Professor Yingling Fan explore how the public sector can best overcome these obstacles and encourage TOD at a regional scale. “Previous research has focused primarily on the impacts and benefits of TOD, not on how to accomplish it in the real world,” Guthrie says. “Our project helps fill that need.”
CTS 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.
University of Minnesota researchers recently completed a traffic data and performance analysis of the I-405 tolled corridor in Washington State.
Lawmakers in Washington authorized the creation of express toll lanes (ETLs), including the conversion of some existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, in 2011. The lanes opened to traffic in September 2015.
Last year, U of M researchers analyzed traffic data from 2014–2017 to determine where the I-405 ETL facility is working and where it is underperforming. In addition, the team was asked to compare its findings against relevant performance measures contained in state statute.
For most road crews, repairing potholes is an essential and highly visible duty. Choosing the best or most cost-effective pothole repair method, however, has remained a complicated puzzle.
“Selecting the appropriate patching method and materials varies depending on several factors, including the size of the pothole and its location on the roadway,” says Manik Barman, an assistant professor with the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) Department of Civil Engineering. “Patching methods and materials also face seasonal challenges in Minnesota when asphalt plants shut down for the winter, turning cold-weather repairs into short-term fixes.”
To help solve this puzzle, the Minnesota Department of Transportation funded research to help road crews choose patching methods that match specific repair conditions. UMD researchers explored patching tools, materials, and methods to identify which ones were most appropriate for specific pothole conditions, road locations, and time of year. They also evaluated the effectiveness of different methods based on durability, road safety, ride quality, and driver satisfaction.