March 2016 Catalyst

March 2016
Providing an attractive alternative to driving is often a key motive for transitway investment. While transitways’ proven ability to attract “choice” riders is compelling, the reality of their mode-shifting impacts can be complicated. A team of researchers from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs explored the effects of travel cost, travel time, and population density on mode choice. The research aims to help policymakers and transportation planners better understand and plan for these complicated impacts and maximize public investments in transitways.
MnDOT’s District 7 is piloting a snowplow driver-assist system (DAS) developed by U of M researchers to combat the blowing snow and fog that often cause zero visibility. The DAS helps snowplow operators see road alignments and features such as turn lanes, guardrails, and road markings. The system proved its value one day in February when blizzard conditions caused zero visibility and forced many road closures in southwest Minnesota. The DAS-equipped snowplow identified stranded vehicles and helped a state patrolman guide motorists to safety.
The rise of mobile technology is changing the way people spend their travel time and even altering their travel choices, and these changes will continue as technologies become more advanced and autonomous vehicle technology matures. People may start traveling more, for example, as the number and usefulness of activities that can be conducted while traveling increases. In a recent report, a U of M researcher explores the current understanding of how technology in motion will shape the future of travel and transportation.
In November and December, the Roadway Safety Institute held three workshops designed to inform transportation practitioners about innovative treatment options for improving pedestrian safety. The workshops—held in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio—convened nearly 90 attendees from nonprofit organizations, private firms, and state and local agencies. At the workshops, Institute researcher Ron Van Houten of Western Michigan University provided an overview of cutting-edge pedestrian safety treatments and their effectiveness.
Publication Credits 

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