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.

In the News: NBC Montana Highlights Traffic Calming Project in Ennis

Traffic calming delineators installed along Main Street in Ennis, Montana
Delineator installation on Main Street in Ennis, Montana

In the small town of Ennis, Montana, local officials and residents are concerned for the safety of pedestrians and motorists on Main Street (US 287), which is experiencing issues with increased traffic and speeding. WTI, in partnership with the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) and the Town of Ennis, recently completed the testing phase of a pop-up traffic calming installation to evaluate potential strategies. Spearheaded by WTI researchers Matt Madsen and Danae Giannetti, the project consisted of delineators placed in key locations on Main Street to slow down vehicles coming from the main highway. NBC Montana aired a feature story and interviewed WTI Director David Kack about the status and next steps for the project, which include evaluating its effectiveness and reviewing public feedback.

See the full news story on the NBC Montana website. To learn more about WTI’s traffic calming projects in other Montana towns, see our articles about traffic circles in Helena and street art in Bozeman.

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

WTI wins AARP Community Challenge Grant for Bozeman Street Project

Volunteers paint traffic calming murals along residential street.Congratulations are due to WTI and the City of Bozeman, recently selected for a Community Challenge grant awarded by the American Association for Retired People (AARP). WTI partnered with the City to submit a proposal for a traffic calming project, which will include pedestrian crossings, curb extensions, and traffic circles.  It will build on ongoing efforts of the partnership and neighborhood groups to test and evaluate temporary calming projects for effectiveness and public acceptance.

The AARP Community Challenge project awarded nearly $1.6 million to “quick-action” projects across the country, focusing on community projects that make immediate improvements or help jumpstart long-term progress.  Bozeman was one of only 159 projects to be selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 1600 applications.  In 2017, the City of Bozeman, WTI and their  other partners received an AARP Community Challenger grant for the Mobile Pop-up Project Trailer.

“We’re very excited to have continued support from the Livable Communities initiative at AARP,” said WTI Project Assistant Dani Hess, who led the award submission effort. “It’s great to see these short-term projects move towards longer term improvements with support from the City of Bozeman and the neighborhood groups who took initiative to make their streets friendlier for all.”

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

Pop-up Traffic Circle Planned for Helena, Montana

WTI, Bike Walk Montana, and neighborhood volunteers are teaming up to install a pop-up traffic circle in Helena,Montana in March.  The traffic calming project is designed to slow vehicles on a road near a popular trail head, and to gather public feedback on potential long-term solutions. The Helena Independent Record provided a recent update on the joint effort.  WTI has participated in similar neighborhood traffic calming projects in Bozeman.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Planning Highlighted at Society of Women Engineers Conference

Sara Dunlap (MnDOT), Dorian Grilley (BikeMN), and Natalie Villwock-Witte at the Society of Women Engineers Conference
Sara Dunlap (MnDOT), Dorian Grilley (BikeMN), and Natalie Villwock-Witte

At the annual meeting of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in Minneapolis in October, WTI Researcher Natalie Villwock-Witte and her research partners at Minnesota Department of Transportation and Bike Minnesota were invited to lead a presentation entitled “Bicycles and Pedestrians: Advocacy, Planning, and Research.” Known as the “The World’s Largest Conference for Women Engineers,” SWE is attended by more than 10,000 engineers, students, and industry leaders.