In the category of Roads for $500, name the only state highway with a duplicate number.
Contestants playing “Transportation Jeopardy” Friday at the Minnesota State Fair will know the correct response, Hwy. 62, and will put their answer in the form of a question.
Many people know that the Crosstown is also known as Hwy. 62, a numbering convention that the Minnesota Department of Transportation kept when it took over the segment between Interstate 494 in Eden Prairie and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from Hennepin County in 1988. Fewer people know that there is a second Hwy. 62 that runs from Fulda to Windom in southwestern Minnesota.
Not all the questions will be this obscure, but you will need to be smarter than a fifth-grader to win the game patterned after the popular TV game show, which will challenge players’ knowledge about the state’s transportation system.
Behind the buzzers, lights and friendly competition in rounds to be played at 10:30 a.m. and noon on the University of Minnesota stage, the goal is to share innovative transportation research going on at the U and engage the public on important issues, said Laurie McGinnis, director of the U’s Center for Transportation Studies.
“We want to highlight our exciting research findings that impact people’s everyday lives and spark the interest of K-12 students in transportation,” she said. “We hope the thrill of testing knowledge in classic “Jeopardy” fashion and the possibility of winning cool prizes will help inform and enthuse fairgoers about transportation.”
The onstage game will augment a host of exhibits featuring researchers’ recent and current studies, including one led by Greg Lindsey in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Lindsey is partnering with MnDOT to test new technologies to help transportation planners accurately count bicyclists and pedestrians and identify the risks they face.
Counting bikers and walkers
Unlike the plethora of tools that engineers and planners use to collect data to determine when to repave streets and time traffic signals, the ability to count pedestrians and bicyclists is less advanced.
Most of the information available comes from spot counts. That leaves planners unable to precisely calculate crash rates and determine where to improve infrastructure, such as adding dedicated and protected bike lanes.
“We don’t want to paint a bike lane on every street, but how many do we need?” Lindsey asked. “If we don’t know how many bicyclists there are, it is hard to optimize those investments. What we need … to determine if investments are warranted to move people quicker or increase safety is to know how many people will be affected.”
Specifically, Lindsey’s research is testing the accuracy of commercially produced bike and pedestrian counters that come in the form of infrared beams, inductive loops and wires embedded in the pavement. Some will be on display.
“Public officials are often maligned for making arbitrary decisions,” Lindsey said. “This research is a good example of leaders at MnDOT recognizing there is a need for better information, and that people are working hard to put in place systems that will provide better information to better serve the public.”