Podcast #118: Driver Behavior at Saint Paul Crosswalks with Nichole Morris

A dangerous crosswalk in Saint Paul on Kellogg Boulevard.

A dangerous crosswalk in Saint Paul on Kellogg Boulevard.

Today I’m bringing you our 118th episode, a conversation with Dr. Nichole Morris. Dr. Morris is the director of the HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, and is a researcher and scholar who focuses on the intersection of transportation, technology, and behavior. We sat down a few months ago in her office at the University of Minnesota campus to discuss her ongoing research project about pedestrian crossings and driver behavior and street safety in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

With help from a state grant, Dr. Morris’ team has spent almost a year studying how often, where, and why drivers in Saint Paul stop for people crossing the street. As you may know, there’s a state law on the books that makes it mandatory for people driving cars to stop for pedestrians crossing the street at legal crosswalks, which are defined as just about every intersection you can think of, with the lone exception of the recreational trails in Saint Louis Park.

As you probably also know, however, drivers stopping for people to cross the street is a rare sight. You can stand on a street corner for minutes and watch dozens of cars go by before one might stop, and in many cases, people crossing the street take their lives into their hands.

That’s what Morris’s project is all about, studying Saint Paul’s difficult pedestrian crossings and trying to analyze whether or not its possible to change the behavior of the city’s drivers. It’s hard to think of a more difficult or more worthy task than this one, and I had lots of questions for Dr. Morris about her project, her initial results, and the innovative approach she is taking to applying science to something so seemingly simple as crossing the street.

This podcast is sponsored by Nate Pentz and Pentz Homes realty.

Nate Pentz is realtor with Pentz Homes at Keller Williams Classic Realty NW. You can start your own home search at pentzhomes.com and if you have any questions about the buying or selling process shoot him a message at nate@pentzhomes.co or call 612.308.1122.

Thanks to him for sponsoring this podcast, and if you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a sponsor, let me know.

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.