A Calming Presence – Street Art Aims to Slow Neighborhood Traffic

Volunteer poses with fish mural painted on Bozeman street as part of traffic calming projectTwo intersections in downtown Bozeman have unusual new inhabitants – brightly colored trout that swim and leap through a water mural painted right on the street.

Neighbors, volunteers, and educators helped create the installation, which is intended as a traffic calming measure to slow down cars traveling through this residential neighborhood.  It is the most recent project in an ongoing collaboration by the City of Bozeman and WTI to test temporary, low cost strategies in areas where neighbors express concerns about speeding vehicles.  In this case, the installations are located on South Church Street at the Olive Street and Bogert Place intersections, near popular pedestrian destinations including the library, Bogert Park, and Peets Hill.  “This is an area that will benefit a lot from these little design features,” WTI project assistant Dani Hess said. “It creates a visual narrowing that makes it a little harder to just cruise through here.”

WTI and the City of Bozeman have implemented other types of temporary calming projects.  Recently, they worked with the Lindley Park neighborhood group to install traffic circles on Cypress Street, which are intended to slow down vehicles driving by Lindley Park during events. Local businesses donated plants for both projects – Cashman’s, Vissers, Gallatin Valley Greenhouses at Bogert, and Greenspace LandGroup of student shows off painted traffic circle project in Bozeman Montana 2019scaping at Lindley.

Earlier in 2019, partners installed pop-up traffic circles near the Fairgrounds, and in the Cooper Park and Valley Unit neighborhoods.  Last year, WTI also worked with the City of Helena on a similar project. These projects have recorded reductions in traffic speeds ranging from 2% to 14%.

The educators who joined in on the painting projects have been in Bozeman participating in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program.  High school and community college STEM teachers spend six we

eks learning about transportation research and technology, and then translate it into curriculum to take back to their classrooms.

The fish mural project received great local media attention including an article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, and a feature story on NBC Montana News.

If you’ve seen the recent installations in person, organizers would love to hear your feedback!  Take a few minutes to fill out the Bogert Park project survey and/or the Cypress/Lindley Park survey.

Volunteers pose with with painted street mural traffic calming project in Bozeman Montana 2019

Bonus Safety Center Webinar in July!

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety will host a second webinar this month!  This free webinar on “Safe Systems for Rural Areas” will be offered on Wednesday, July 31 at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).

This webinar will introduce principles of Safe Systems and provide context for the Safe Systems approach in relation to other traffic safety initiatives (such as Vision Zero) and paradigms. Through various examples and case studies, presenters will highlight processes, practices, and components of Safe Systems applications in rural settings and describe the state of research and practice in advancing systems approaches in rural areas. To learn more and to register, check out the webinar announcement.

Rural Planning Webinar This Week!

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety will host a free webinar on “Rural Multimodal Planning” on Thursday June 20 at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).

This webinar will explore why and how rural communities and small towns should apply more multimodal planning. It will describe current demographic and economic trends that are increasing demands for walking, bicycling and public transit in rural communities; then it will present specific policies and programs that can help create more diverse and efficient transport systems. This presentation is based on research described in the report, “Rural Multimodal Planning” (www.vtpi.org/rmp), and related documents. To learn more and to register, check out the webinar announcement.

On the Road to Safety – Engaging Partners at National Events

Jaime Sullivan in hard hat and safety vest at NACE 2019 MeetingImproving safety on rural roadways is a multi-faceted challenge – to make progress, it helps to collaborate with many partners.  WTI’s Jaime Sullivan, who is also the Manager of the National Center for Rural Road Safety, has been on the road in recent weeks meeting with key safety partners at national meetings and conferences.

At the April annual meeting of the National Association of County Engineers (NACE), Jaime exhibited the Safety Center booth to promote the Center’s resources, trainings, and initiatives. Montana LTAP Director Matt Ulberg was also in attendance.  NACE, LTAP, the Safety Center, and the West Region Transportation Workforce Center have all been collaborating on the development of a Local Road Safety Certificate that will provide engineers and transportation professionals with specific training on assessing safety challenges and implementing countermeasures.

Photo of nametag and meeting agenda for AASHTO Safety Committee Annual Meeting 2019Jaime then traveled to the Safety Committee meeting of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO), where she presented an update on the Local Road Safety Certificate program.  She was also invited to give a presentation on the safety components of the NCHRP Rural Research Road Map project, which is identifying and prioritizing the most critical issues facing rural transportation.  “The AASHTO meeting, which was led by Montana DOT Director Mike Tooley, was a great opportunity to get input and recommendations from transportation leaders and practitioners who see the challenges and consequences of safety issues on a daily basis,” said Jaime; “this firsthand input really improves and invigorates our research and training efforts at the Center.”

New Project: Safety Improvements for Low-Volume Roads in Montana

Highway agencies systemically screen the road network to identify those sites that are expected to yield the greatest safety benefits from an investment of available improvement funds.  Traditional methods for identifying candidate locations tend to focus on well-travelled roadways that experience higher crash frequencies, despite the fact that many low-volume roads may have high levels of risk due to their geometric and roadside features (e.g. curves, low visibility). Further, many of the crashes on remote local roads, particularly those with lower severities, may go unreported.

On behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), WTI will develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations on local roads at the network level that are deserving of safety improvement funds. Another objective is to engage Montana counties to work closely with MDT on the development of both the methodology and future safety improvement projects.  This project will provide MDT with guidance for its safety improvement programs, enhance its outreach efforts to local agencies, and support its Vision Zero safety initiatives.

Project Title and Webpage: Developing a Methodology for Implementing Safety Improvements on Low-Volume Roads in Montana

New Webinar Announced for May – Marketing Safety

Logo for National Center for Rural Road SafetyThe National Center for Rural Road Safety will host a free webinar on “Marketing Safety” on Thursday April 25 at 11 a.m. (Mountain Time).

This webinar will provide practical methods of effective communication with stakeholders, leadership, and the public, including five techniques for better communication and marketing, how to write engaging “teaser” messages, and how to use a communications brief to plan outreach activities.  This training is directed towards a very broad safety audience, such as law enforcement, planners, engineers, first responders, elected officials, public health, tourism agencies, and safety culture experts. To learn more and to register, check out the Marketing Safety webinar announcement.

New Publication: How effective are flashing beacons at crosswalks?

Pedestrians utilize rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) at busy road crossing.WTI Program Manager Ahmed Al-Kaisy is the lead author of “Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons,” recently published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security. This article presents an investigation into the motorists’ voluntary yielding behavior to bicycles and pedestrians. Two study sites in the state of Montana with light emitting diode (LED) rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) warning devices were used in this investigation.

 

Citation: Ahmed Al-Kaisy, Guilherme T. Miyake, Joey Staszcuk & Danielle Scharf (2018) Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons, Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, 10:4, 303-317, DOI: 10.1080/19439962.2016.1267827

TRB – The Show Must Go On

Natalie Villwock-Witte (far left) presenting from a lecturn at a panel discussion.
Natalie Villwock-Witte presents at TRB Annual Meeting

WTI researchers braved heavy snow, transit closures, and the partial government shutdown to attend the 2019 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in January.  Nonetheless, they had a busy week with many productive opportunities to share their research and collaborate with peers.

A few highlights include:

  • WTI Director Steve Albert received a certificate of appreciation from the TRB Committee on Transportation Needs of National Parks and Public Lands in recognition of his 12 years of leadership on committee activities.
  • Three Fellows from the Public Lands Transportation Fellows program had the opportunity to present posters highlighting their current projects:
    • Corinne Jachelski presented on trail, bicycle, and other alternative transportation upgrades underway at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Colorado.
    • Dylan Corbin’s poster highlighted his efforts to create a transportation plan that will expand public transportation and alternative transportation access to four sites within the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
    • Vince Ziols presented on the bicycle network, shuttle services, and water taxis that are enhancing regional access to the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin stand in front of their research posters at TRB poster session.
Fellows Corinne Jachelski, Vince Ziols and Dylan Corbin
  • Workshop Participants seated at tables view a presentation slide called "Categories for Rural Critical Needs"
    Workshop on Rural Research Roadmap project

    Jaime Sullivan’s workshop on the NCHRP Rural Research Roadmap project attracted an audience of more than 70 attendees interested in her progress report on the identification of the most critical research needs related to improving rural transportation. More than 500 research needs displayed on 20 posters inspired a lively discussion.

 

  • Karalyn Clouser and Zach Becker, our UTC Students of the Year (read their profiles here), were honored at a banquet during the opening weekend of the TRB meeting. The weather and transportation delays prevented Zach from attending, but Steve Albert and David Kack were on hand to cheer on Karalyn when she received her award.

 

David Kack, Karalyn Clouser, and Steve Albert

WTI Director Looks Forward to 2019, Launching New Projects and Hosting National Event

With the start of the new year, WTI Director Steve Albert sees a busy calendar ahead for himself and the organization as a whole – and that’s a good thing. “Over the last few years we’ve seen a lot of amazing advancements in the transportation field, but also a lot of uncertainty about the future – not to mention a lot more competition for research projects,” Albert said in a recent interview. “Recently, though, we’ve been awarded several nationally significant projects that I’m very excited about, so I’m looking forward to a busy and productive 2019 at WTI.”

For example, in fall 2018, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) selected WTI and Intrans (at Iowa State University) to lead the development of a Research Roadmap on Rural Transportation Issues, which is scheduled to be completed and released in 2019. “Our team is focused on identifying the research issues that can make the most difference in improving rural transportation across the country including infrastructure, safety, mobility, freight movement, and workforce shortages,” said Albert; “it’s an amazing opportunity to help shape and prioritize the future of transportation research at the national level.”

WTI is also gearing up to lead the team that is launching a major Wildlife Vehicle Collision Reduction and Habitat Connectivity project. WTI’s Road Ecology scientists will partner with other leading researchers from the U.S. and Canada on a three year $700,000+ pooled fund study administered by the Nevada Department of Transportation that includes seven other states, from Alaska to Iowa, and one Canadian province. It will include a cost-benefit analysis of various mitigation measures, a series of research projects and the development of a manual. The project will identify and evaluate the most cost-effective strategies and tools that DOTs can use to reduce the number of collisions between animals and vehicles and those measures that require additional research. “Ten years ago, WTI’s Road Ecology team completed the first nation-wide study that looked at the cost of these collisions and the cost-effectiveness of potential solutions,” Albert explained; “new mitigation options have emerged since then, and state DOTs need concrete information on what works, what is promising but might need some more study, and what is economically feasible to implement.”
https://www.pooledfund.org/Details/Study/610

In addition to conducting new research, WTI will host the 12th Transportation Research Board (TRB) International Conference on Low Volume Roads this September in in Kalispell, Montana. According to Albert, “TRB sponsors this conference to highlight new technologies and new techniques in the design, construction, and maintenance of low-volume roads; researchers and practitioners come from all over to discuss practical solutions to common problems on these roads.”

Overall, the WTI Director sees opportunities ahead for all of WTI’s Centers and research programs. “We continue to find critical transportation needs in both our longstanding program areas as well as some emerging ones,” said Albert. “Our Mobility and Public Transportation program is doing innovative work right here in Bozeman, Montana as well as in small towns around the country related to public transportation options (see News section). The Center for Health and Safety Culture has also had tremendous success in growing its training efforts to introduce amazing, culture-based approaches to health and safety initiatives.”