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Trafficcast International administrators attended two important technology and mobility conferences in different regions recently. The ITS America 28th Annual meeting was held in Washington DC in early June and explored topics such as how Intellifent Mobility can make our communities safer and smarter for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and vehicles, and how to work safety and efficiency into the goal of delivering goods and services.

In Detroit, TU (Telematics Update) Automotive Detroit brought together leaders from automotive, mobility and technology industries exploring topics such as monetizing vehicle connectivity and what carsharing and scootersharing looks like in other markets across the globe.

I-29 Open, Again

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After nearly three weeks this second time, I-29 running from St. Joseph’s, Missouri through Iowa to US-34 in Pacific Junction is open as of June 17.

The corridor, running along the Missouri River, was closed since May 29 after heavy storms dumped record amounts of rainfall across the region. Other roads in the area remain closed due to flooding and damage caused by the high waters.

This 150-mile stretch of Interstate 29 was shuttered for the first time in March because of historic flooding. That previous closure lasted longer than 2 months.

Presently, MoDOT says loads over 12-feet-wide still need to use alternate routes.

Naples, FL to add BlueToad Travel Tracker

Naples, Florida has been awarded a grant that allows the city to purchaseTrafficCast’s BlueToad travel time system equipment. The $129,000 grant provides for the city’s Traffic Management Center to acquire 25 BlueToad traffic controllers, two new servers and the accompanying software.

BlueToad is an operating system which tracks the speed and volume of traffic flow in an area – the city of Naples, for example – by picking up Bluetooth signals, in a non-invasive fashion, from moving vehicles. The information goes to the BlueToad operating system to show traffic flow and patterns, allowing traffic managers to quickly spot, and deal with, problem areas.

E-scooters return to Portland streets TODAY

Starting today, Portland, Oregon drivers are sharing roadways with E-Scooters.

E-scooters are a somewhat controversial new mobility service. Like bike-shares available in some cities, the service provides an electric-powered scooter to rent for one-way trips. The scooters are consigned through a scooter rental app. Some companies offer a call or text unlocking service for those who don’t have smartphones. According to the model, scooters are parked on the sidewalk close to the curb and out of the way of pedestrians when the trip is finished. Some companies requre riders to confirm they’ve parked the e-scooter correctly by submitting a photo through the company’s app to end the rental.

While e-scooters have been cast as a serious menace by detractors – the e-scooters are sometimes driven on and left lying on sidewalks, littering and blocking pedestrian routes – Portlanders approved the one-year pilot program after a 120-day trial period. Proponents who argued for approval for the program cited reduced traffic congestion by reducing the number of cars on the road, fewer automobile fatalities, expanded transportation opportunities especially for underserved Portlanders, and reduced air pollution.

Portland transportation officials warn residents are expected to adhere to e-scooter rules, including mandatory helmet use, no riding on sidewalks, and no riders under 16 years of age. E-scooter riders are also required to yield to pedestrians, and ride only on roadways in parks. E-scooter drivers are allowed on Portland city streets, multi-use paths and in bike lanes. The programs extends til April 26, 2020.

Radios, Cars and Influencers

While many at the National Association of Broadcasters participants last week were focused on topics such as Esports; presentations like Beyond the Briefing Room: Tales from the White House Beat, and on new offerings like the just-introduced Influencer Series: Sports and Entertainment, TrafficCast executive Nick Kiernan was at the Las Vegas conference to see about In-Vehicle Experience, or as we’ve known it for decades – car radio.

Throw some television into the equation as well; industry experts are examining how to offer relevant car radio and video experiences into a future which includes autonomous vehicles. Surround sound? Screens on the back of front car seats? What kind of new content?

TrafficCast supplies nationwide up-to-the-minute traffic information, much of which is disseminated through automobile radios.

The National Association of Broadcasters conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive convention encompassing the convergence of media, entertainment and technology. With more than 90,000 attendees from 160 countries and 1,600+ exhibitors, NAB Show is the ultimate marketplace for solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and fuel the digital storytelling economy.

Stormy Weather

Oregon is one of the many states experiencing high water difficulties this spring. The National Weather Service in Portland warns that today, April 8, the Willamette River is high at Harrisburg, Corvallis and Albany due to heavy rains in the central Coast Range, central Cascade Foothills, and south Willamette Valley. Just this morning, State Highway 58 near Oakridge in Lane County became closed in both directions when earth and trees slid down a rain-soaked hillside and across the road.

In other parts, I-29 through Iowa and Missouri remains closed since March 19th, following flooding that submerged whole swaths of farmland. And storms are predicted to hit
the Plains, Midwest and East later this week, bringing rain and possibly hail and tornadoes.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is only one of many state departments issuing safety tips for “weathering” storm season 2019. The Oregon DOT reminds drivers that heavy rains can create dangerous conditions that include reduced visibility, reduction traction between tires and road, and compromised car handling. It advises:

Slow down, especially through high water. Driving through several inches of water at high speed can cause you to lose control of the car.

Be aware of the potential for hydroplaning, when your tires encounter more water than they can scatter. Your tire loses traction with the road and if this occurs, ease off the gas, gently apply the brakes and steer straight ahead.

Keep your distance; you may need more time to slow down.

Turn on your headlights to improve visibility.

Disengage your cruise control.

Check your brakes. After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.

The Wheels of the Bus Go Round and Round

 

“Hey, Bus Driver!” is what Madison passengers WON’T be saying on the new shuttle bus scheduled to begin operating in Madison, Wisconsin’s downtown. That’s because the 15-passenger people-hauler will be automated, electric and driverless.

There will be a driver on the shuttle’s initial runs actually, to watch out for safety, observe how the vehicle is functioning and reacting in traffic, and to answer passenger’s questions. The forthcoming venture is planned as a demonstration – a analysis project, that is, whose mission is not only to carry passengers but to be a test buggy, studied by researchers who aim to make autonomous vehicles part of the country’s transportation system. The United States Department of Transportation, chose Madison, Wisconsin (headquarters of TrafficCast International!) as one of only 10 cities to examine automated shuttles in real-time traffic. The one-to-two-year project will be guided by members of the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Traffic operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory.

The idea for a long-term study picked up steam last April when a 15-passenger shuttle bus made by the French company Navya carried a total of 750 passengers on test rides around the UW campus over a two-day period.

For a route, city officials have targeted a near East-side revival corridor, burgeoning with newly-built high rise apartment buildings, and chic taverns and eateries. Initial plans have the driverless shuttle traveling an 8-block course from the State Capitol to a new music venue and back.

Passengers will ride at no charge during the driverless bus’s test phase. Researchers will be grading how the vehicle reacts to stimuli like bicycles and sudden situations, and how seamlessly, or not, it negotiates traffic while reaching a top speed of only 28 miles per hour. Engineers say trips may be suspended during icy weather.

City officials see many plusses from the use of automated vehicles, from easing traffic congestion and pollution, to diminishing the scramble for limited downtown parking spaces, to offering late night transport.

Project managers are accepting bids presently from shuttle companies, and hope to have the project launched, and driverless trolley cars on city streets, by fall, 2019.