Blog Archives

New warning systems aim to reduce rear-end crashes on Minnesota freeways

To reduce congestion and improve safety, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) has deployed active traffic management (ATM) technology on two freeways in the Twin Cities. The ATM system incorporates intelligent lane control signals placed over selected lanes at half-mile increments to warn motorists of incidents or hazards ahead.

Using this existing ATM infrastructure, U of M researchers have developed and field-tested two prototypes for queue warning systems in a new MnDOT-funded project. The warning systems specifically focus on preventing rear-end collisions—the most frequent type of crash on freeways.

Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Safety, Technology, Traffic operations, Transportation research, Urban transportation

How equitable is bicycling infrastructure?

As the movement to promote bicycling as a means of transportation has grown, so has the amount of money governments and nonprofit organizations are investing in the nation’s urban bicycling infrastructure. A concern, however, is whether these investments are distributed equitably among neighborhoods.

In a new study, U of M researchers looked at this issue using Minneapolis as a case study and found that though inequities still exist, equity is improving.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Bicycling, Planning, Transportation research, Urban transportation

What’s really behind rear-end highway crashes?

Congested vehicle traffic on a freewayRear-end crashes are a major cause of highway traffic slowdowns, and preventing these congestion-causing incidents requires a clear understanding of why they occur in the first place. On the surface, it might seem like the driver who rear-ends another vehicle is the primary cause of the collision; however, the reality is much more complex.

In a new study, U of M researchers found that because shockwaves—areas of suddenly stopping or slowing traffic—are usually the cause of rear-end collisions on highways, drivers at the front of a group of cars may have as much or more to do with the rear-end collisions happening at the back of the group than those involved in the crashes themselves.

Posted in Safety, Transportation research, Urban transportation

New light-rail transit leads to sizable increase in nearby housing values

A house for sale near the Green Line light rail Light-rail transit (LRT) is commonly thought to stimulate economic development and boost property values. However, knowledge gaps have made it difficult to gauge exactly how much property values increase and when the increase happens.

In a new study, U of M researchers Jason Cao and Shengnan Lou help fill those gaps. Using tax parcel data and modeling techniques, they assessed the impacts of the Green Line LRT on sale prices of single-family houses near station areas in Saint Paul. They also examined when the value uplift occurred, focusing on two key time points—before and after the Federal Transit Administration’s announcement of the full funding grant agreement (FFGA) in April 2011, and before and after the start of Green Line operation in June 2014.

Posted in Economics, Planning, Public transit, Transportation research, Urban transportation

New podcast explores commuting in the Twin Cities

A new 10-episode podcast is exploring what commuting in the Twin Cities is like—and what it could be.

Here to There, developed by Apparatus and Transit for Livable Communities & St. Paul Smart Trips, examines the inextricable link between the ways we commute and the ways we live.

Each episode focuses on a different “destination”—defined not as a place but as a goal for the Twin Cities mobility system. Episode destinations include accessibility, equity, cohesion, and flexibility.

Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Bicycling, Pedestrian, Planning, Public transit, Travel Behavior, Urban transportation

Commute by bike: job accessibility and bicycles

jackson street bikepathIn conjunction with Bike to Work Week, Brendan Murphy gives an update on the Accessibility Observatory’s work measuring access to jobs by bicycle in this guest post.

People are steadily increasing the rates at which they choose to bike to where they need to go, and with that comes the need to focus more intently on whether our road, trail, and path systems do a good job (or not) of getting people on bikes to destinations safely and efficiently.

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Posted in Accessibility (access to destinations), Bicycling, Planning, Transportation research, Urban transportation

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
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