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Exploring Nice Ride job accessibility and station choice

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Although bike share systems are becoming more popular across the United States, little is known about how people make decisions when integrating these systems into their daily travel.

In a study funded by CTS, researchers from the U of M’s civil engineering department investigated how people use the Nice Ride bike share system in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The researchers examined how Nice Ride affects accessibility to jobs and developed a model to predict station choice.

In the first part of the study, the researchers created maps showing accessibility to jobs by census block for both Nice Ride and walking—as well as the difference between the two—at time thresholds ranging from 5 to 55 minutes.

Overall, in blocks with both Nice Ride and walking job accessibility, Nice Ride provides access to 0.5 to 3.21 times as many jobs as walking.

By comparing Nice Ride to walking, the study demonstrated that walking can successfully be used as a baseline to show how a bike share system improves job accessibility. The results also pinpointed when and where Nice Ride had the strongest accessibility advantage over walking.

“This type of information can be used by bike share system planners to identify where new stations could be built to maximize their impact on job accessibility,” says grad student Jessica Schoner, a member of the research team.

In addition, the team developed a theoretical model for bike share station choice. The model considers users’ choice of a station based on their preference 
for the amount of time spent walking, deviation from the shortest path (the closest station may not be in the direct path of the person’s destination), and station amenities and neighborhood characteristics.

Findings show that people generally prefer to use stations that don’t require long detours to reach, but a station’s surroundings also play an important role. Results also indicate that commuters value shorter trips and tend to choose stations that minimize overall travel time.

According to Schoner, understanding people’s station preference can help provide guidance to planners that want to expand or optimize a bike share system.

Read the full article in the January issue of Catalyst.

Accessibility Observatory to provide annual ranking for cities

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Major American cities get an annual report card on mobility. The reports focus chiefly on the speeds motorists can drive on highways. In coming years, however, cities will have another way of understanding their transportation systems thanks to the work of the Accessibility Observatory at the University of Minnesota.

The new observatory will go beyond congestion rankings to focus on accessibility: a measure that examines both land use and the transportation system.

The Accessibility Observatory, a program of CTS and the Department of Civil Engineering (CE), will focus on the research and application of accessibility-based transportation system evaluation.

The Observatory will be guided by a threefold mission:

  • To advance the field of transportation system evaluation through research of new data sources and methods for accessibility evaluation.
  • To develop standards and tools to facilitate the use and communication of accessibility-based metrics in transportation planning, engineering, and evaluation.
  • To apply its tools and expertise in support of continual improvements in the planning, design, engineering, and analysis of transportation systems.

CTS published the first report, called Access Across America, last spring. Access Across America evaluated accessibility provided by the road and highway systems in 51 U.S. metropolitan areas.

Access Across America provided aggregate metro-level accessibility metrics. The Accessibility Observatory will expand on this work by providing accessibility evaluations that can be analyzed at much smaller areas.

The observatory will also build on earlier work conducted at the University of Minnesota, including the Access to Destinations research study. The study, a multi-phase, multidisciplinary effort incorporating theoretical as well as practical research, built local expertise and prepared the University for next steps into the future of accessibility research and evaluation.

CTS is creating and hosting a new mobile-friendly and dynamic website for the Observatory. The site includes an interactive map/calculator, research reports, and other materials.

Read the full article in the November issue of Catalyst.

Every year, Americans face a steady stream of discouraging news. We're spending more time stuck in traffic. Congestion in our metro areas is on the rise. Yet these reports focus almost exclusively on traffic mobility--how quickly travelers can move between any two points via automobile or transit. But according to a new University of Minnesota study, there's much more to the story. The new study, Access Across America, goes beyond congestion rankings to focus on accessibility: a measure that examines both land use and the transportation system. More in April Catalyst.

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