Blog Archives

Is there safety in numbers for bicycles in Minneapolis?

bicyclist in MinneapolisIn observance of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Week 2017, Brendan Murphy of the U of M’s Accessibility Observatory shares his work on bicyclist safety in Minneapolis in this guest post.

More people are biking or walking to work in North American cities each year, including here in the Twin Cities. With increased biking and walking, more opportunities for conflict with cars exist, and the safety of our more vulnerable road users becomes an increasingly important consideration.

The goal of this study, funded by the Roadway Safety Institute, was to attempt to predict crash rates between cars and bicycles at street intersections in Minneapolis—based on car and bike traffic levels—and then assess whether areas of the city exist that have much higher per-bicyclist crash rates.

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Posted in Bicycling, Safety, Transportation research

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

Snow control cost/benefit tool goes online as program aims to expand

cornsnowcontrolCornstalks may not be the first thing that comes to mind for keeping rural roads clear in the winter. But when stalks near roadsides are left standing after fall harvest, they become a living snow fence, reducing the amount of snow blowing onto roads.

To help determine reimbursement costs for farmers and choose which roads are good candidates, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) uses a snow control cost/benefit tool developed by University of Minnesota researchers.

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Posted in Environment, Rural transportation, Safety

Does the variable speed limit system on I-94 reduce crashes?

Two years ago, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) installed a series of electronic speed limit advisory signs over I-94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The variable speed limit (VSL) system is designed to reduce congestion and help prevent crashes by recommending lower speed limits to drivers during periods of high traffic.

Although the verdict on the system’s effects on I-94 congestion is still pending, a recent study by researchers at the U of M’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory found that the VSL system has not made a measurable impact on crashes in a crash-prone stretch of freeway in downtown Minneapolis.

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

Improving work-zone safety for visually impaired pedestrians

pedestriansNavigating sidewalks and intersections affected by road construction can be challenging for all pedestrians, but it’s especially difficult for those who are blind or visually impaired.

To help these pedestrians find their way safely, U of M researchers have developed a smartphone app that can detect upcoming work zones and provide routing instructions. The project, funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), was led by senior systems engineer Chen-Fu Liao at the U’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory.

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

Technology shows promise in reducing rural intersection collisions

Warning sign While Minnesota has made much progress in reducing traffic fatalities, rural stop-controlled intersections remain an ongoing challenge. The Minnesota Department of Transportation launched the Rural Intersection Conflict Warning System deployment project in 2012 to work toward reducing crashes at such intersections.

The three-year project will deploy intersection conflict warning systems at up to 50 rural stop-controlled intersections statewide.

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Posted in Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Rural transportation, Safety, Technology, Transportation research

Study finds two types of MnPASS lanes equally safe

mnpassIn a study evaluating the safety and mobility of Minnesota’s MnPASS lanes, researchers at the U of M’s Minnesota Traffic Observatory (MTO) found that facilities on I-35W and I-394 are performing equally well in spite of their different designs.

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Posted in Planning, Safety, Technology, Transportation research, Urban transportation
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