U of M researchers have an important message for transportation planners: pedestrians and bicyclists are different. In a recent study, Greg Lindsey and Jessica Schoner explored the key differences between these two groups in order to help planners better track progress toward nonmotorized transportation goals and more effectively address the different needs of pedestrians and bicyclists.
“Transportation policies and plans are increasingly setting goals to encourage and increase walking and bicycling, but the challenges are significant,” says Lindsey, a professor in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. “Two major obstacles are the lack of data to construct comprehensive measures of walking and bicycling, and a nuanced understanding of the important differences between these modes—this is the void our latest research helps fill.”
The study analyzed the Metropolitan Council’s Travel Behavior Inventory for the Minneapolis–St. Paul metropolitan area for 2001 and 2010 to illuminate the differences between walking and bicycling over time and to illustrate the implications for performance measurements.
Giving 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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Providing an attractive alternative to driving is often a key motive for transitway investment. In the popular imagination, agencies would select a high-demand corridor and build a dedicated transitway, and drivers would then directly substitute transit trips for driving. While transitways’ proven ability to attract “choice” riders (people who can drive and can afford cars, but choose to take transit instead) is compelling, the reality of their mode-shifting impacts can be complicated.
In a new study, a team of researchers from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs explored the effects of travel cost, travel time, and population density on mode choice. The research, sponsored by the Transitway Impacts Research Program, aims to help policymakers and transportation planners better understand and plan for these complicated impacts and maximize public investments in transitways.
Transportation 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.
The Twin Cities transit system changed dramatically between 2000 and 2010: service improvements included the launch of light-rail transit and a high-frequency bus network.
“The changes were implemented in response to growing demand and to provide long-term, high-quality service, increasing accessibility and mobility in the growing region,” says Jonathan Ehrlich, planning analyst with the Metropolitan Council.
And according to a new study by U of M researchers, the changes are working.
The potential of telecommuting to alter travel patterns—and even mitigate congestion during peak hours—has sparked interest among transportation planners. Despite this potential, however, the actual impact of telecommuting on traffic has remained an open question.
In a recent study, U of M researchers examined the impacts of telecommuting on travel behavior in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. One key finding: regular, non-daily telecommuting is on the rise. While those who telecommuted every day dropped, the number of people who telecommuted once a week or more increased.
Despite having more similar roles at home and work than ever before, U.S. men and women continue to have different travel behavior. Employed men spend more time commuting and less time on errands and other household support trips than women do. What causes the difference?
Researchers led by Yingling Fan, associate professor in the U’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, tested competing theories. They analyzed publicly available data in various ways across groups of workers with different types of family structures.