Wildlife Vehicle Collision Data Collection System: Second phase of development complete

Project logo with graphic image of deer leaping across highway and title Federal ROaDSThe WTI Road Ecology program, in partnership with the MSU Gianforte School of Computing, has completed a second phase of research on a system to simplify how wildlife vehicle collision (WVC) data is collected and shared among federal agencies.

The research program is sponsored by the National Center for Rural Road Safety, the National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – the federal agencies want to develop and coordinate the use of a WVC Data Collection System with other federal land management agencies, state and local agencies, and other organizations. During Phase 1, Road Ecology researchers Rob Ament, Matthew Bell, and Kelley Hall, collaborating with MSU Computer Science professor Mike Wittie, developed a pilot WVC system called ROaDS – Roadkill Observation and Data System.  It collects WVC roadkill observations and is available to all Department of Interior (DOI) agencies and bureaus.

During Phase 2, the research team developed recommendations for preliminary national standards for WVC data collection systems, which will promote collection and sharing of consistent data among agencies and partners. The team also made recommendations to modify the ROaDS survey (used for data collection) so it is shorter, easier to use, and more efficient. As part of the development process, team members determined that ROaDS can provide a valuable research function – it captures the observer’s route, how long it took to complete the route and each individual observation made while on that route. Phase 2 also included outreach activities, in which team members began to engage other agencies and organizations to jointly develop national standards for WVC data collection systems via meetings, presentations, and workshops at national conferences that will be continued in Phase 3.

The Federal Lands Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination Project Phase 2 report is available on the WTI website.  A new poster, which displays highlights from Phases 1 and 2 and proposed activities for Phase 3, is also available at the WVC Data Coordination Project Phase 2 webpage.

Developing Scenic Bikeways in Rural Areas: New Resource Available

Cyclist travels along a curve on a mountainous highwayCould a scenic bikeway attract more bicycle tourists to the parks, historic sites and other attractions in your area? Is your agency responsible for operating and maintaining a rural road where a bikeway is proposed? A new resource is now available that can help agencies that oversee rural roads develop safe routes that enhance bicycle travel networks.

Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is a U.S. Federal Highway Administration toolkit developed by WTI, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Association of Oregon Counties. This toolkit is intended not only to help Oregon agencies navigate the scenic bikeways designation process, but to assist other land management agencies, road owners, and bicycle proponent groups to work together to develop bikeways.

Resources in this guide will help project partners to:

  • Identify and discuss key factors for making decisions about bikeway designations,
  • Address common concerns such as safety, liability, funding and maintenance,
  • Communicate effectively with bicycle groups, road owners and the public, and
  • Follow a clear process for developing bikeway designation programs.

“As bicycle travel and tourism continue to grow in popularity across the country, more communities are working to attract bicycle tourists to spend money in their area,” said Principal Investigator Rebecca Gleason; “At the same time, agencies that oversee these rural roads are concerned about the safety of people biking on roads that may have active logging and that lack maintenance funds. We hope this new resource will help balance the opportunities presented by scenic bikeways with the concerns of the agencies responsible for operating and maintaining these rural roads.”

Designating Scenic Bikeways: A Framework for Rural Road Owners is available on the project page of the WTI website.

Newspaper Lauds Parenting Website

Logo for ParentingMontana.org shows outline of state with the website address and tagline "Tools for your child's success"ParentingMontana.org continues to receive great reviews. In a recent editorial, Karen Sullivan of the Montana Standard called the website “one of the best resources on parenting I’ve run across, and Montana parents are lucky to have it.”

ParentingMontana.org features practical tools for parents with kids ranging from age five to age nineteen, covering challenging topics such as anger, bullying, chores, homework, peer pressure, and underage drinking. The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) developed the project in cooperation with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

The website also offers access to a repository of videos, radio and print materials, as well as contact information for assistance resources in Montana, such as prevention specialists, treatment services, and a crisis text line.  In her editorial, Sullivan concludes that ParentingMontana.org “is an incredible free resource that might just make the parenting journey a little easier.”

MDT Launches Wildlife and Transportation Webpage

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) has a new webpage dedicated to facilitating collaboration among the many partners working to reduce animal vehicle collisions and enhance wildlife connectivity.

In December 2018, the Montana Wildlife & Transportation Summit (Summit) was held at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. It was co-convened by the Montana Governor’s office, Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), Western Transportation Institute (WTI), and Montanans for Safe Wildlife Passage (MSWP). The purpose of the Summit was to bring stakeholders together to strengthen working relationships and share information.  The long-term goal is to develop strategies to plan and implement wildlife accommodations, reduce animal-vehicle collisions, and protect wildlife and their movement across state highways. The emphasis of this first meeting was to build common ground among stakeholders around wildlife and transportation issues in order to build a foundation to engage additional stakeholders and partner on collaborative initiatives.

To encourage and promote future engagement, MDT has created the “Montana Wildlife and Transportation” webpage. It provides more information about the Summit, including presentations by WTI researchers Marcel Huijser and Rob Ament, and a link to the Montana Wildlife and Transportation Summit Final Report.  It will also provide updates on the ongoing activities of the Summit partners, such as committee meetings, guiding documents, and informational resources.

CHSC Announces Summer Webinars

The Center for Health and Safety Culture will host webinars in July and August, based on two of their research and community outreach projects:

Exploring Law Enforcement Attitudes and Beliefs About Traffic Safety Enforcement

July 8, 2019 from 1–2pm MDT

This webinar will summarize the results of a recent project to better understand how the culture within law enforcement agencies impacts engagement in traffic safety enforcement. The project is sponsored by the Traffic Safety Culture Pooled Fund Program hosted by the Montana Department of Transportation.

Reducing Problem Gambling in Oregon

Aug 27, 2019 from 10am – 11am MDT

This webinar will showcase a partnership between the Center for Health and Safety Culture and the Oregon Health Authority that focused on reducing problem gambling throughout Oregon. Join this webinar to hear how this partnership formed, view the tools that were developed, and learn how they’re being used today to reduce problem gambling across the state.

To learn more about and register for both webinars, visit the CHSC webinar page.

February 28 Webinar will present highlights of National Safety Summit

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) is hosting a FREE, 1.5-hour online webinar on February 28, entitled “Bridging the Gap: Recap of Safety Summit #2”.  This webinar will provide a recap of the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety: Bridging the Gap. If you were not able to join us in Savannah, GA in December 2018, then this webinar is for you! Come hear an overview of the most important takeaways from this action-oriented event with interactive sessions to assist attendees on their Road to Zero. More details and registration information are available here.

Governor Launches Parenting Website Created by CHSC

Photo of Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Annmarie McMahill seated at a news conference
Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Annmarie McMahill

Attention Montana parents! The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), in partnership with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, has created ParentingMontana.org – a new website packed with informative tools on guiding children and teens toward safe and healthy behaviors.

On January 23, Montana Governor Steve Bullock officially launched the website with a news conference, stating “In Montana, we want what’s best for our kids and we all want to be the best parent possible. Now, there’s a new resource available to tackle the wide variety of challenges youth deal with and to support the success of each child in Montana.”

The website features practical tools for parents with kids ranging from age five to age nineteen, covering challenging topics such as anger, bullying, chores, confidence, conflict, discipline, friends, homework, listening, lying, peer pressure, reading, routines, stress, and underage drinking. It is the product of months of thorough and detailed work by the entire staff at CHSC.

Principal Investigators Annmarie McMahill and Jay Otto had the opportunity to participate in the news conference to celebrate the website going live. “It is exciting to see all these great tools come together in one easy-to-use location,” said Annmarie, “and so gratifying to work on a project that will be immediately helpful to parents, teachers, and caregivers in our communities.”

CHSC has posted the Governor’s full news release on its website.

Several news stories also feature photos, video clips and quotes by CHSC staff:

KXLH Channel 9 (Helena); KRTV Channel 3 (Great Falls); and KPAX (Missoula) News: https://kxlh.com/news/montana-and-regional-news/2019/01/24/state-announces-new-program-for-montana-parents/

Montana Public Radio: http://www.mtpr.org/post/state-launches-website-help-parents-raise-their-kids

Great Falls Tribune: https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2019/01/23/montana-launches-parenting-website/2662375002/

NEW PROJECT: CHSC to Develop Safety Culture Training Modules

Transportation, law enforcement, and public health organizations are showing growing interest in incorporating the principles of traffic safety culture into their safety programs.  As a result, there is new demand for training materials on these topics for engineers, planners, emergency responders, public health professionals, and other practitioners.

Through this project, the Center for Health and Safety Culture will create three safety culture trainings for safety staff. The training modules will cover the basics of safety culture, organizational safety culture and road user safety culture.  CHSC will develop supporting materials, such as a facilitator guide, videos, interactive handouts, and assessment tools.  These modules will be made available to the Local Technical Assistance Programs (LTAPs) in each state, expanding access to culture-based training throughout the country.

As the project progresses, more information will be available on the CHSC website and the WTI project page.

WTI helps NW Bozeman neighbors bring their vision for safer streets to life!

Examples of temporary "pop up" street features for safer streets in Bozeman. These features use chalk, straw bales and planters to build temporary roadway features.
Examples of temporary “pop up” street features for safer streets in Bozeman.
WTI’s Bozeman Commuter Project is working with Bozeman neighborhoods to implement Pop-up Traffic Calming projects to reduce drivers speeds on residential streets, and bring more visibility to bikes and pedestrians. This weekend residents of Northwest Bozeman in the Valley Unit neighborhood will be setting up a temporary demonstration of curb extensions and a traffic circle at three intersections near Valley Unit park. Data will be collected via intercept surveys and radar speed detection units to better understand how these designs can reduce vehicle speeds and increase safety for local residents and those traveling by bike, foot, bus, stroller, walker or wheelchair.
Related News Story: AARP Highlights Bozeman Traffic Calming Project in National Publication

Society of Women Engineers selects WTI Researcher to lead workshop at Annual Meeting

Each year, the Society of Women Engineers receives more than 1000 submissions to present at its Annual Meeting, known as the “The World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers.” WTI Researcher Natalie Villwock-Witte and her research partners at Minnesota Department of Transportation and Bike Minnesota were selected to lead a presentation entitled “Bicycles and Pedestrians: Advocacy, Planning, and Research” at the upcoming Annual Meeting in October. Congrats, Natalie!