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Research Partnership Award: Tools for counting bicyclists and pedestrians help guide investment

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People love to walk and bike—for relaxation, for exercise, to get places like school, work, and stores. Biking and walking have increased significantly in the Twin Cities metro area during the past decade, and these activities are catching fire statewide.

U of M researchers have partnered with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Minnesota Department of Health, and several other state and local agencies to develop general guidance and consistent methods for counting all these bicyclists and pedestrians in Minnesota. Their work was honored with the 2014 CTS Research Partnership Award, which was presented at the CTS Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon. The award recognizes research teams that have drawn on the strengths of their diverse partnerships to achieve significant impacts on transportation.

The research team, led by Professor Greg Lindsey of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, developed tools and methods to count and analyze bike and pedestrian traffic using a mix of manual and automated methods.

Results from the counting initiative are allowing policymakers and planners to make data-driven decisions about transportation investments.

Work is continuing under the initiative. A MnDOT project, which will conclude in 2015, uses automated technologies for counting bicycles and pedestrians on trails, bike lanes, sidewalks, and shoulders in various urban and rural locations in Minnesota.

MnDOT also is considering how to incorporate such nonmotorized traffic data into its existing traffic database. The researchers recommended that MnDOT coordinate statewide counts and work with local agencies to establish a network of automated monitoring sites across the state.

In addition to supporting state goals, this research also is contributing to federal traffic monitoring standards.

Read the full article in the May issue of Catalyst.

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