November 2012 Catalyst

November 2012
Once rare in the United States, roundabouts are becoming more common in Minnesota and across the country. Although research has shown that roundabouts can successfully ease congestion and reduce serious crashes, there are concerns about roundabout accessibility and safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. In a study funded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, researchers from the Minnesota Traffic Observatory examined the experience of pedestrians and bicyclists at two roundabouts in the Twin Cities.
“The user is getting a bad deal in our transportation world,” said Professor Hani Mahmassani at a special CTS seminar in October. Mahmassani described how it could be better—by drawing on lessons from successful companies like Apple and putting the user experience front and center. Mahmassani, director of the Northwestern University Transportation Center, is leading an initiative in which researchers are collaborating with a design firm, corporate partners, and transit agencies to rethink the transportation “product” as the overall trip experience from door to door.
Although mileage-based user fees (MBUF) have seen increasing support from a number of groups in recent years, many entities still oppose their implementation as a supplement or alternative to the fuel tax. The freight industry, in particular, has concerns about the disadvantages of MBUF. In a recently completed study, University of Minnesota researchers explored how MBUF could potentially benefit the freight industry. They also conducted interviews and focus groups with freight industry representatives to identify specific industry concerns.
As part of a larger effort exploring the effects of roadway signage on driver behavior, researchers from the College of Design have conducted a study on the effectiveness of intelligent lane control signals (ILCS). The research team used a driving simulator to test ILCS that displayed merge, speed control, and lane-closure warnings over freeway lanes to see which signs had the most effect on drivers’ behavior.
Publication Credits 

Publisher/DirectorLaurie McGinnis

Managing EditorPamela Snopl

EditorsChristine Anderson, Amy Friebe, Michael McCarthy

DesignerCadie Adhikary

Student InternsKristin Havercamp, Nicola Losik

WriterNancy Strege