January 2015 Catalyst

January 2015
Time seems to fly when you’re having fun, but not when you’re waiting for a bus at an unsheltered stop. In a new study, U of M researchers found that several factors can have a measurable impact on riders’ perceptions of wait times. A shelter can make the wait seem shorter, for example, whereas for women, unsafe conditions can make the wait seem longer. The study grew out of an interest to learn how riders’ perceptions of wait time is affected by transit shelters, amenities such as posted schedules, and characteristics of surrounding areas.
The Federal Highway Administration has adopted a new national standard for permissive left turns: the flashing yellow arrow. This signal warns drivers that they should proceed with a left turn only after yielding to any oncoming traffic or pedestrians. Flashing yellow arrow signals can help prevent crashes, move more traffic through an intersection, and provide additional traffic management flexibility. To help engineers make more informed decisions about when to use flashing yellow arrows, U of M researchers are developing of a model that could help predict the probability of left-turn crash risk at a given intersection at different times of day.
A common assumption among transportation planners is that commuters want to minimize their travel time—and that they’ll pay good money to do so. But what if the ability to multitask while traveling alters that choice? Commuters might pick transit over a car—even when the transit alternative takes longer—if it allows them to use their travel time more productively. At the CTS Fall Luncheon, Patricia Mokhtarian, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, discussed her latest research that sheds light on the impact of multitasking behaviors and attitudes on commuters’ mode choice.
Autonomous vehicles could spark transformative changes not just in mobility, but also in matters as diverse as urban form and pedestrian safety. At a conference held by the University of Minnesota, state and national leaders explored the various legal, ethical, technical, and policy dimensions of these vehicles. The conference, held October 31, featured more than 25 leaders from academia, government, industry, and other interests.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/Director: Laurie McGinnis
Managing Editor: Pamela Snopl
Editors: Christine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy
Designer: Angela Kronebusch
Freelance Writer: Megan Tsai