NPS Plans Safety Improvements Based on WTI Study

Report Cover for George Washington Memorial Parkway Safety Assessment with photos of pedestrian and cyclists sharing road with vehicles

Along a historic parkway in Virginia, the National Park Service (NPS) will soon begin improvements to enhance safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.  In a recent news release, the NPS announced planned safety measures for the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which runs along the Potomac River near George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.  The Parkway serves recreational and tourism users, as well as a growing number of commuters, which has led to increased congestion and safety challenges.

The recommended improvements stem from a major safety assessment conducted by WTI and Mead & Hunt on behalf of the Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) of USDOT. The GWMP Traffic and Safety Context Sensitive Solutions Assessment, led by Principal Investigator Natalie Villwock-Witte, studied traffic conditions and crashes at nine intersections on the Parkway, then developed individual recommendations for each. Proposed alternatives were designed to enhance safety, while maintaining the character of a national park setting. The full report is available on the project webpage.

Cyclist and pedestrian cross tree-lined parkway near vehicles

NEW NAME, NEW CHALLENGE: The Bozeman Commuter Project Has Rebranded

Join the GoGallatin MSU Commuter Challenge this week

2021 graphic logo for Gallatin Commuter Project

In October, WTI was awarded an Office of Outreach & Engagement Seed grant to begin a rebrand of the existing Bozeman Commuter Project. Four Montana State University students are working with WTI project lead Matt Madsen as a collaborative team to move the project forward (stay tuned to learn more about all the students!). The goal of the project was to create a more encompassing program, now rebranded as the Gallatin Commuter Project and GoGallatin. The existing BozemanCommute platform has become GoGallatin and provides all the same ride tracking, carpool options, transit schedules and other transportation demand management solutions.

2021 graphic logo for GO Gallatin

To kick off the rebrand, The Gallatin Commuter Project is sponsoring the GoGallatin MSU Campus Commuter Challenge. This year’s challenge is open to all students and staff at MSU and runs from April 5th – 11th. Join this campus-wide event (and invite your friends), then start commuting this week via biking, walking, taking the bus, carpooling, scootering, roller-blading, even pogo-sticking!

How Does it Work? By tracking your commute trips, you can be in the running for gift cards to local businesses. Once registered, track your commute as an individual or part of a team by joining or creating a team of your MSU colleagues, peers, and/or community members. If you need help, send us an email at gallatincommute@montana.edu To see how your team is stacking up against other teams in a friendly competition, you can keep an eye of the leaderboard!

Rewards and incentives: Every participant who logs 2 trips during the week will be entered into a drawing for gift cards to various local restaurants and businesses! You can win a gift card to one of these fine establishments:

  • Bangtail Bikes
  • Bridger Brewing
  • Columbo’s Pizza
  • Essy’s
  • International Coffee Traders

Registration Register on the Gallatin Commuter Project Platform at: https://bozemancommute.org/#/ to create an account, join a team, and log your commute trips! Faculty and Staff can register as part of the MSU Network; students can register as a part of the MSU Students Network. Want to join the WTI team? Follow this link to join: https://bozemancommute.org/s/western-transportation-wd.  More information is also available on the MSU Events page.

NEW PUBLICATION: Cycling for Sustainable Cities

Book cover for Cycling for Sustainable Cities with photo of urban cyclists

MIT Press has released Cycling for Sustainable Cities, a new book focused on how to implement infrastructure, programs, and policies to make cycling safer, more practical, and convenient for urban residents.  Of note, the chapter on “Social Justice and Cycling” was co-authored by WTI Research Associate Andrea Hamre, in collaboration with transport justice and equity scholars Karel Martens and Aaron Golub.

New Publication: Safe Interactions Between Vehicles and Bicyclists

Truck passing a bicyclist on a rural highway

The Journal of Safety Research has published an article that examines the influence of traffic safety culture on a driver’s behavior when interacting with bicyclists on the roadway.

“Traffic safety culture and prosocial driver behavior for safer vehicle-bicyclist interactions” is based on a research collaboration between the Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC) and the Small Urban and Rural Livability Center (SURLC) at WTI.  Authors include CHSC researchers Nic Ward, Kari Finley and Jay Otto of CHSC, and David Kack, Rebecca Gleason, and Taylor Lonsdale of SURLC.

Bicyclist safety is a growing concern as more adults use this form of transportation for recreation, exercise, and mobility. Most bicyclist fatalities result from a crash with a vehicle, and the behaviors of the driver are often responsible for the crash.  The researchers conducted a survey study of Montana and North Dakota residents and found that prosocial driver behavior was most common and appeared to be intentional. They also found that this intention was increased by positive attitudes, normative perceptions, and perceived control. The findings can be used to develop strategies to increase prosocial intentions and driver behavior, thereby increasing bicyclist safety.

CITATION: Ward, N. J., Finley, K., Otto, J., Kack, D., Gleason, R., & Lonsdale, T. (2020). Traffic safety culture and prosocial driver behavior for safer vehicle-bicyclist interactions. Journal of Safety Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2020.07.003

New Year, New Staff!

headshot portrait of Andrea Hamre in 2020WTI is pleased to welcome Andrea Hamre, Ph.D. as a Research Associate in the Mobility and Public Transportation Program. With expertise in transportation demand management, sustainable transportation, and travel survey data analysis, she will conduct research for the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility (SURTCOM) and for projects such as the Twin Falls Idaho Transit Study.

Prior to WTI, Andrea most recently served as a consultant and analyst for a nonprofit regional transportation management association in Vermont. She also has more than 14 years of experience in transportation policy and planning in the greater Washington, D.C. area, including extensive work on non-motorized travel issues.  For example, during that time she contributed to the 2014 edition of the Bicycling and Walking in the United States Benchmarking Report and produced the 2011 report Non-Motorized Travel in the City of Alexandria after coordinating the community’s first volunteer non-motorized counts using the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project methodology.

Andrea earned her M.S. and Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, and her B.A. from Middlebury College.  Originally from Minnesota, she and her husband are two of Bozeman’s newest residents.  They look forward to discovering the many biking and hiking trails of Montana, and as avid backyard astronomers, they take a special interest in exploring the new celestial vistas of “Big Sky Country”!

NEW STAFF: Matt Madsen joins WTI’s Mobility Research Program

outdoor portrait of Matt MadsenMeet our newest Matt.   The Western Transportation Institute welcomes Technical Research Associate,  Matt Madsen, bringing our Matt total to four (he joins Matt Blank, Mat Bell, and Matt Ulberg).  Madsen joins the Mobility and Public Transportation program area and will take on projects previously coordinated by Dani Hess, including the pop-up neighborhood traffic calming program and bike/pedestrian technical assistance projects.

Originally from Wisconsin, Matt first came to Bozeman in 2000 to work and play before starting college back in Wisconsin.  He knew he would someday return to Montana.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and his masters from the Colorado School of Public Health, Matt managed a healthy families program in Colorado.  His community engagement activities ranged from adult and early childhood education to leadership programs. His active transportation experience includes implementation of Safe Routes to School and local Bike to Work programs, both of which will serve him well in his new role with WTI’s Mobility program.  In 2018, Matt returned again to Montana and became Bozeman’s first affordable housing manager.  His job helped define what affordable housing means in this growing city and what role Bozeman officials should play in achieving that goal.

In addition to his work at WTI, Matt serves as a consultant providing community health education and leadership trainings throughout the region.  Matt is an avid backcountry skier, biker and trail runner.  When not at work, he is pursuing these hobbies that first lured him to Montana’s playgrounds.

New Vistas and Opportunities Ahead

Group photo of David Kack, Danae Giannetti, Dani Hess and Rebecca Gleason with award plaque in 2019Mobility Project Assistant Dani Hess has announced that she will be leaving WTI at the beginning of October.  Dani first joined WTI in 2016 as a student assistant and was promoted to the professional staff in 2018, working primarily on commuter and bike/ped projects for the Small Urban, Rural and Tribal Center on Mobility.  She has been a tireless champion of the Bozeman Commuter Project and made tremendous progress on implementing and expanding the “pop-up” traffic calming projects on local roads.  This summer, Rebecca Gleason and Taylor Lonsdale acknowledged her hard work and accomplishments by nominating her for the Young Professional of the Year Award from the Association for Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals, which she received a few weeks ago at the association’s annual conference!

In October, Dani will embark on a monthlong bikepacking adventure, traveling by mountain bike from Utah to Mexico. Long-term, she plans to return to Bozeman to pursue new work opportunities. After October 2, Dani Hess can be reached at hessds@gmail.com

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.

Bozeman Commuter Challenge off to great start with Bike Week!

Twelve WTI and MDT staff members pose with bicycles in front of MSU transportation building.The Bozeman Commuter Challenge kicked off on June 1 with Bike Week.  Staff from WTI and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Design Team enthusiastically joined in by leaving their cars at home and cycling to work!

The Challenge runs through June 30, so it’s not too late to join.  Log your bike, walk, bus, or carpool trips all month long! Are you signed up at bozemancommute.org? Head there to register, and check out how it works by reading the Challenge FAQs.

Suffrage, Social Justice and the Bicycle

Dani Hess shows photos of women suffragettes during presentation on bicycle historyAs part of Women’s History Month, the Montana State University Women’s Center invited WTI Researcher Dani Hess to make a presentation last week on the bicycle and its key role in the women’s suffrage movement.  She detailed how bicycles provided women with a means of solo travel to political, educational, and employment opportunities, which inspired Susan B. Anthony to say that bicycles have “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”