Today we kick off our annual “Streetsies” competition, that time of year when where we look back at the year and remember the stories that really had an impact on urban transportation progress. Among those cited was St. Paul for using signs (right) to help encourage people to yield to pedestrians during an experiment led by University of Minnesota researcher Nicole Morris. The signs are intended to evoke social pressure for drivers to obey yielding laws. The concept comes from the field of “human factors psychology,” which Morris is trying to use to promote safe driving behavior.
Grad students at the University of Minnesota are imagining a day when Shakopee residents wake up every morning and order a driverless car for their morning commute or the residents of Belle Plaine get into cars that park and stop themselves at the grocery store. For this year’s group of Urban Planning students, this is no Jetsonian future, but one that may arrive by 2040. Professor Fernando Burga’s Land Use Planning class is taking a close look at Scott County’s future with connected and autonomous vehicles, known as CAVs....
"The distance to the refinery and the distance to the distribution centers. Both refineries are located in the Twin Cities, so, you tend to see lower fuel prices,” said Jerry Zhao, an associate professor for the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies.... When looking at gasoline prices, other factors involved range from population density to the amount of taxes. Regarding the latter, the federal excise tax on gasoline has remained at 18.4 cents per gallon since 1993, while the Minnesota gas tax is at 28.5 cents per gallon.
Now that construction of the $2 billion light-rail line has begun, that kind of one-seat public transit trip to the Capitol City, once unfathomable, isn’t so far-fetched.... Metro Transit estimates more than $1 billion in development has occurred near Southwest’s 16 stations, and more projects are likely now that ground has been broken for the line — an extension of the existing Green Line that begins in St. Paul. Passenger service is expected to begin in 2023....
Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the U of M’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, joins us this week. Frank has been tracking self-driving vehicles for years. The technology for them is out in fields right now, Frank says, and MnDOT demonstrated self-driving buses last year already. We can expect more demonstrations, including in Greater Minnesota. But what about people with jobs as drivers right now?
This holiday shopping season, there’s a good chance you’ll be heading to one of the “-dales” – Rosedale Center, Southdale Center, Ridgedale Center. The names are unique to Minnesota. So, how did we end up with them? Good Question. Southdale came first in 1956, followed by what used to be Brookdale Center in 1962. Rosedale was the third in the family in 1969 and Ridgedale came last in 1974. Tom Fisher, a professor of urban design at the University of Minnesota, is quoted. He said the names are based both on geography, location and existing city names.
A University of Minnesota research team is working in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to carry out a project related to Minnesotans’ knowledge about and perceptions of snow control measures along state highways, and a small “invitation-only” event was held Tuesday at Crookston’s City Hall. U of M graduate student, Collin Motschke, and his advisor, Director of the Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management Dean Current, met with city leaders, local law enforcement, and area stakeholders.
In an attempt to combat winter road conditions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation teamed up with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Integrated Natural Resource and Agricultural Management and Extension to expand the living snow fences program. The state-sponsored efforts place natural barriers, created by wildflowers, woody vegetation and plants some 100-200 feet from the side of highways to reduce snow blowing across highways. Dean Current, program director of the University's CINRAM, is quoted.
Winter driving presents unique challenges for drivers and the municipalities maintaining local roads. University of Minnesota experts John Gulliver and Gary Wyatt are available for comment on the development of innovative approaches to keep roads clear during the winter months.
How does Minnesota’s gas tax compare to other states? Good Question. According to Minnesota’s constitution, the state’s tax on gasoline can only be used for roads and bridges. “Right now, the gas tax is the workhorse that we need to rely on to pay for our transportation system,” says Lee Munnich, senior fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. “Part of the issue is that the public doesn’t really know how much it pays for the gas tax.” According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the national average for state gas tax is 28.6 cents per gallon.
The University of Minnesota’s next vice president of research, slated to start next week, will face a challenging environment for funding. Chris Cramer will lead the Office of the Vice President for Research, which oversees the University’s $900 million of research spending. Cramer said the University remains a prime location for research. The University has a budget among the top 10 public research institutions in the country, according to the National Science Foundation’s Higher Education Research and Development survey.
A pedestrian safety study at the University of Minnesota is trying to improve how often drivers stop for pedestrians at crosswalks. With 28 pedestrians killed in Minnesota so far in 2018, the HumanFIRST Laboratory within the Department of Mechanical Engineering aims to bring awareness to pedestrian injuries and fatalities through education, engineering and enforcement. Their project, which was overseen by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will finish data collection this month on the percentage of cars that stopped when pedestrians used crosswalks.
The latest research updates for an annual study overseen by the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota estimates the impact of traffic congestion on access to jobs indicates that Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are now the top three U.S. metropolitan areas for “loss in job accessibility” due to traffic congestion. This year’s report – Access Across America: Auto 2017 – is based on data from 2017 and ranks access to jobs by car for the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. Cars, trucks, and other private motor vehicles are used for an estimated 86 percent of U.S.
Annually updated research from the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota estimates the impact of traffic congestion on access to jobs for the 50 largest (by population) metropolitan areas in the United States. The new rankings are part of the Access Across America study, which began in 2013. The rankings 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.
According to the latest data, the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area ranks 7th nationally in access to jobs by auto. The study reports that the average worker traveling by auto in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro can reach 875,049 jobs within 30 minutes. Total employment in the metro area is 1,794,806 (14th nationally). Minneapolis–Saint Paul ranks 28th in lost access to jobs because of traffic congestion. The average worker traveling by auto in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metro can reach 26 percent fewer jobs within 30 minutes during congested periods.
Traffic fatalities have been cut nearly in half since the Toward Zero Deaths initiative was founded 15 years ago. But state law enforcement and transportation officials leaders said Tuesday they are going to need to be more creative to make Minnesota's roads even safer. “We've had a great 15 years,” said Stephanie Malinoff, an executive with the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies. “We're seeing that (road deaths) trend line moving in the right direction.
Unlike ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft, where customers are driven to their destinations, car-sharing involves patrons driving themselves to wherever they need to go. Hourcar’s model — for now — involves customers picking up a vehicle at one of its 50 hubs in Minneapolis and St. Paul and returning it to the same place.... Frank Douma, director of the State and Local Policy Program at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and CTS Scholar, said car-sharing “only works in certain places. We don’t have the density of Boston or [Washington, D.C.] or San Francisco.”
A ground-breaking experiment in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows a shocking pattern of dangerous and aggressive behavior towards pedestrians. But also how solvable the problem is given the right attention and policies. For most of 2018, researcher Nichole Morris, director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, has been measuring driver yielding at crosswalks around St. Paul.
The University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul are teaming up to try to change drivers' behaviors. The St. Paul Police Department has been working on the study at eight treated intersections since May.... Nichole Morris with the University of Minnesota said initially some of the intersections had as few as 18 percent of drivers stopping for walkers. Now the average is 75 percent.
The Destination Medical Center initiative in Rochester has been chosen to participate in a University of Minnesota research project concerning the use of autonomous vehicles. The National Science Foundation grant will provide the U of M with $1.75 million over three years to work toward the possible development of what’s termed a “smart cloud commuting system.” Proponents envision community’s using large pools of shared autonomous vehicles to provide inexpensive transportation services to everyone. Initiative on the Sharing Economy director Saif Benjaafar is quoted.