Media Coverage


KARE-11 TV News, May 08, 2018

Every other day a pedestrian or cyclist is struck by a vehicle in St. Paul, and every other month someone dies. Those statistics, based on averages provided by St. Paul Police, are exactly why an enforcement effort called "Stop for Me" is happening across the city right now. In what has become an annual effort, police officers are targeting different intersections this spring to identify drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians. This year, the effort is bolstered by research at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. The HumanFIRST Laboratory has been studying 16 different intersections across the city twice a week, and they are still finding many drivers still simply don't stop for pedestrians. "It was a little disappointing because I live in St Paul and I have a lot of pride in the city, but only about 3 in 10 cars stopped for us," said Nichole Morris, Director of the HumanFIRST Lab.

Minnesota Daily, May 01, 2018

A 12-passenger autonomous bus traveled on a pre-mapped route on the Washington Avenue Bridge at the University of Minnesota Monday, allowing passengers to experience self-driving technology. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been studying this autonomous bus since December to see how the vehicle responds to winter weather and to different locations, like a college campus. ... Frank Douma, the University’s director of the state and local policy program, said the technology could make roads safer.

KSTP News, April 20, 2018

A MnDOT program encouraging standing corn rows along rural highways in Minnesota is making those highways safer in the winter. For example, farmers who joined together to keep 4.5 miles of standing corn rows along Highway 169 just south of Belle Plaine found that the corn kept at least four feet of snow off the road and ditches this winter. MnDOT has sponsored several U of M research studies into snow control solutions like standing corn rows, including a cost-benefit calculator to help MnDOT calculate the ROI for various snow-control solutions. Blowing Snow Control Tools website  

Minnesota Public Radio, March 20, 2018

Last week Gov. Mark Dayton created a 15-member advisory council to study how driverless cars will affect Minnesota. This technology will affect not just drivers, but also the way cities are designed, according to Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs. In an age of driverless cars, he predicts, cities will become more walkable, parking lots and ramps will be replaced with residential buildings and car ownership itself could become a thing of the past. MPR host Mike Mulcahy spoke about the future of cars and cities with Douma, MnDOT Commissioner Charles Zelle and transportation consultant Mary Smith of Walker Consultants.

Western Builder, February 01, 2018

Each winter, state departments of transportation work to improve safety and efficiency on their highways while mitigating environmental impacts. In particular, a growing effort targets the negative effects of chlorides from salt use. However, since salt remains so cost-effective it continues as a staple in winter maintenance efforts, along with fleets of snowplows. Throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, though, various strategies and technologies help make the most of available resources. Minnesota’s Living Snow Fences program, including University of Minnesota research, is featured.

MINNEINNO, January 17, 2018

To make decisions regarding mass transportation, road conditions and construction, and traffic routes, metropolitan areas use data regarding the travel habits of their inhabitants. Up until now, data in this field has been hard to get and slowly produced, but researchers from the University of Minnesota have broken through with a smartphone application that conveniently and cost-effectively collects this data. Daynamica is a geo-location mobile survey tool designed to log activities and trips of consumers in metropolitan areas using various forms of transportation. Interactions with the smartphone app make it “smarter,” and data is collected without surveys or extra gadgets, according to a pamphlet put together by the university’s Office for Technology Commercialization. ... The U of M research group includes Associate Professor Yingling Fan, Assistant Professor Julian Wolfson, and Professor Gediminas Adomavicius, according to Ghere. Computer science students Jie Kang and Yash Khandelwal also contributed to the Daynamica project.

StarTribune, January 10, 2018

Mark Seeley is fascinated by anything to do with the weather. As a University of Minnesota professor and Extension Service climatologist, he has become the go-to source. Asked what he’s proudest of from his 40 years at the U, Seeley lists three things. Among them, what he calls “living snow fences,” strategically placed areas of mixed perennial vegetation that interrupt wind flow and prevent drifts from forming on highways. “Road engineers are still using them,” he said. “Anytime you produce something that is still being used 20 years later, that makes you feel good.”


Everett Herald, December 14, 2017

A new report released Wednesday suggests traffic could move at faster speeds in the I-405 toll lanes if the state charged higher rates in the most congested periods of the daily commutes. It recommends lifting the cap on the maximum toll, which now sits at $10, and charging by segment instead of letting drivers lock in a single toll rate for the entire 17-mile corridor between Lynnwood and Bellevue. And it says the state should fix the math used to set rates so higher tolls are charged sooner to more closely match actual traffic conditions. The study was produced by the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The draft will be presented to the Joint Transportation Committee of House and Senate lawmakers Thursday morning with the final version due to the Legislature in January. (The Seattle Times also reported on this story.)

StarTribune, November 10, 2017

The average worker in the Twin Cities can reach nearly 17,000 jobs within a half-hour when traveling by transit. The metro area's ranking, 13th in the nation, declined 1.6 percent over the past year in annually updated research released this week from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota. The study provides a fascinating glimpse into how transit connects people to their jobs nationwide. "Transit is only half of the picture," explained Andrew Owen, director of the Observatory. "The other half of the equation is where are the jobs and where are the workers."

Transportist, November 10, 2017

Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.

Cincinnati Business Courier, November 10, 2017

A new University of Minnesota report says that the number of jobs in Greater Cincinnati accessible by transit increased by the highest rate in the nation in 2016, partly because of the opening of the Cincinnati Bell Connector streetcar, according report author Andrew Owen, director of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.

AASHTO Daily Transportation Update, November 09, 2017

Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time.

KARE-11 TV News, November 09, 2017

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are trying to improve the energy efficiency of delivery vehicles. In September, the UMN Thomas E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory announced it had been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the NEXTCAR Program of the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. UMN NEXTCAR researchers have partnered with UPS and electric vehicle manufacturing company Workhorse Group Inc. to develop technology to improve the fuel efficiency of cloud-connected delivery vehicles. "We're trying to improve the efficiency of UPS hybrid electric delivery vehicles by 20 percent," said Will Northrop, associate professor and director of the T.E. Murphy Engine Research Laboratory.

University of Minnesota News, November 09, 2017

Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota ranks 49 of the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States for connecting workers with jobs via transit. The new rankings, part of the Access Across America national pooled-fund study that began in 2013, focus on accessibility, a measure that examines both land use and transportation systems. Accessibility measures how many destinations, such as jobs, can be reached in a given time. Though rankings of the top 10 metro areas for job accessibility by transit remain unchanged from the previous year, new data comparing changes within each of the 49 largest U.S. metros over one year helped researchers identify the places with the greatest increases in access to jobs by transit. Cincinnati and Charlotte improved more than 11 percent. Seattle, which ranks 8th for job accessibility by transit, improved nearly 11 percent. In all, 36 of the 49 largest metros showed increases in job accessibility by transit.

StarTribune, November 06, 2017

A rite of late autumn in the Twin Cities involves hundreds of cheery green Nice Ride Minnesota bikes being gathered up and packed away for winter storage. But a big change is in the works for bike-sharing here, and it may make its debut as soon as next spring. Instead of pedaling a Nice Ride bike from station to station, cyclists will use smartphone apps to locate and rent "dockless bikes" anywhere and leave them locked wherever they please. At least that’s the theory. The reality could be a bit different.... "Any time you have innovation like this, it raises questions about the right balance between community control and laissez-faire," said Greg Lindsey, a professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. "This tension is definitely playing out." [This story also appeared in Governing on November 7, 2017]

Sleep Review, October 31, 2017

As rulemaking has been withdrawn, stakeholder conversation turns to the financial arguments surrounding the trucking industry’s incentives to voluntarily undergo systematic OSA screening, testing, and treatment.... Michael Trufant, business unit manager of industrial markets at North Carolina-based Aeroflow Healthcare, says, "Looking at the facts, we believe if a driver suffers from untreated sleep apnea, treatment can be life changing." He cites a 2016 University of Minnesota study authored by Stephen Burks that found drivers with sleep apnea have a fivefold greater risk of serious preventable crashes. "We believe that a sleep deprived driver is an unsafe driver," Trufant says.

The Gender Policy Report, October 31, 2017

In the U.S., women have historically had less access to cars, but their traditional, gendered family roles have increased their share of household-related trips—think daycare pickup, grocery shopping, and the like. The mismatch between women’s mobility constraints and burdens has, in turn, created significant restrictions in women’s labor market choices. As a result, employed women’s work commute trips were, for decades, shorter in both distance and time than those of employed men. (Author: Yingling Fan, Associate Professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota)

MinnPost, October 31, 2017

Congress doesn’t have a reputation for moving fast. On complex topics like health care and taxes, it can take years before lawmakers pass substantive legislation — if they pass any at all. This fall, however, Congress has moved uncharacteristically quickly to advance legislation governing new technology that is moving quickly: self-driving vehicles.... According to Frank Douma, a researcher at the University of Minnesota who studies automated vehicle issues, “the federal government always regulates the hardware, and the state regulates the driver, the human. That becomes tricky when you’re looking at the car increasingly becoming the driver.”

Governing, October 30, 2017

A study by the Center for Transportation Studies at the University of Minnesota led by Humphrey School professor Jason Cao found telecommuting increased travel for one-worker households, especially for non-work related trips. Other research indicates that when two drivers in a household share a single vehicle, telecommuting merely frees up the vehicle for the other person.

WalletHub, October 30, 2017

Urbanization might be the trend for much of the population, but not everyone craves the bright lights and crowded spaces of the big metropolis. For those who appreciate more wiggle room, fewer degrees of separation and shorter commutes, small-city life can be tough to beat. And those are just a few of its advantages. Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, is interviewed as an expert.

Pioneer Press, October 25, 2017

University of Minnesota students are turning to short-term rental services like Airbnb to ease living expenses and tuition costs. Student “hosts” say the service accommodates their packed schedules. But recent regulations passed by the Minneapolis City Council could complicate business. “Cash-strapped” college students facing steep housing and tuition costs can recoup some of their money by leasing an extra room, said Saif Benjaafar, a U professor in industrial and systems engineering who heads the school’s initiative on the sharing economy.

Construction Equipment, October 19, 2017

University of Minnesota researchers conducted a study to determine if Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) messages could be an effective way to get drivers to pay attention to hazards and workers in roadway work zones... “When we started this project, we saw a potential for drivers to become more aware and responsive to hazards within the work-zone by presenting the information directly to them through in-vehicle messaging technologies,” says Nichole Morris, director of the U’s HumanFIRST Laboratory, who led the project.

Orange County Register, October 14, 2017

For a generation, the car has been reviled by city planners, greens and not too few commuters. In the past decade, some boldly predicted the onset of “peak car” and an auto-free future which would be dominated by new developments built around transit. Yet “peak car,” like the linked concept of “peak oil” has failed to materialize.... Overall, 90 percent of Americans get to work in cars. Access to jobs represents a key factor. University of Minnesota research shows that the average employee in 49 of the nation’s 52 major metropolitan areas can reach barely 1 percent of the jobs in the area by transit within 30 minutes while cars offer upwards of 70 times more access. This practical concern does much to explain why up to 76 percent of all work trips remain people driving alone., September 28, 2017

As cycling becomes a more and more popular mode of green transportation in cities such from Portland to San Francisco, it’s safe to say that comparatively vulnerable cyclists can use all the help they can get as they seek to share the roads with SUVs and 18-wheelers. A team currently working at the University of Minnesota hopes to create a much-needed warning system to protect bicycles from motor vehicles, providing a respectful and safe transportation environment. Rajesh Rajamani, a professor of mechanical engineering at the school, says just as some cars have collision-prevention systems, there isn’t a reason why there can’t be a corresponding one for bikes.

ConstructionDIVE, September 27, 2017

There's little question that the country's infrastructure needs more investment, and its bridges are no exception. But successfully implementing the necessary monitoring, repairs and other upgrades requires more than money.... In Minnesota, engineers are looking at the performance of an existing structure, the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge replacement bridge. The structure was completed in September 2008, a little more than a year after the deadly collapse of its predecessor. Part of the new span’s purpose — in addition to being a Mississippi River crossing within the Twin Cities area — is to act as a "living, breathing" research and development tool to improve bridge construction and performance going forward, said Lauren Linderman, an assistant professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering, who focuses on cyber-physical engineering systems.

Alpha News, September 13, 2017

Twin Cities traffic congestion has been getting worse in recent years, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) labeling more than 23 percent of the metro area’s highways as congested. This could be a big problem in upcoming years, as that lack of free travel typically negatively impacts an area’s economy. “Traffic congestion is going to be a barrier for economic development because it creates friction among activities. It’s going to harm the economy,” Professor Jason Cao told Alpha News. “On the other hand, traffic congestion is an indicator of business activity in itself.” Cao is a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He specializes in urban planning, transportation planning, and sustainable development. Cao noted that in weaker economies, traffic congestion on the whole decreases.

StarTribune, September 09, 2017

A group of Minnesotans from government, tech and academia peered into the future of our roadways Friday at a self-driving car symposium — of sorts.... A recent University of Minnesota report estimated that fully autonomous, “Level 4” cars could hit the market by 2025.... University of Minnesota researcher Frank Douma, who studies self-driving cars, was more bullish on solving the wintry problem. "Half the country gets snow," he said. "There’s not going to be a market for these vehicles if they don’t figure it out."

HuffPost, September 07, 2017

The floods of Houston and Mumbai represent a human tragedy in terms of the number of people who died or who have become homeless in their wake. These floods, though, also represent an opportunity to explore smarter and more adaptable ways of living in such flood-prone places, an opportunity that we should not miss. (Author: Professor Thomas Fisher is the Director of the Minnesota Design Center, at the College of Design, University of Minnesota.)

Perham Focus, September 05, 2017

Self-driving vehicles are seen as the way of the future in Otter Tail County and all across the state and nation. To that end, county board members invited Max Donath, director of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Institute at the University of Minnesota, to address the county board August 22 in Ottertail at the county operations center. "Dealing with the unexpected when it comes to self-driving vehicles is the real challenge," said Donath. "For that reason, we're not there yet when it comes to widespread use of self-driving vehicles." A version of this story also was published in The Daily Journal, Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

StarTribune, September 02, 2017

City officials have been holding back downtown parking construction for years. Lately they have doubled down, investing in bicycle lanes and approving new apartment buildings with few parking spaces that encourage people to find ways besides cars to get around.... Authorities on urban parking are looking further ahead, to a future with self-driving, self-parking cars, although it’s a future that is admittedly a ways off, said Frank Douma, a research scholar at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. "Until we get to the day of self-driving cars, we’ll probably have to provide some parking for some people," he said.