About Me

As of July 2012 I have made a career change into bioinformatics and am employed as a Computational Scientist at MGH in the Center for Human Genetic Research.  This is my homepage for transportation, which was my previous career and which I still consult on from time to time.  This page was last updated August 2012.


As a Transportation Planner for IBI Group in Boston, MA I worked on public transit operations analysis, real-time passenger information, intelligent transportation systems, and a variety of other aspects of urban planning and transportation systems.  I graduated from M.I.T. in 2010 with a Master in City Planning and Master of Science in Transportation.


In 2010 I co-authored "Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance in Massachusetts: a Risk Assessment and Report on Consumer, Industry and Environmental Benefits," the largest study to date on the correlation between auto insurance claims and miles driven.  My M.I.T. advisor, Professor Joseph Ferreira, and I conducted this study for Conservation Law Foundation, using mileage and insurance claims data from about 3 million automobiles in Massachusetts to demonstrate conclusively that there is a strong correlation between mileage and risk.  The correlation gets even stronger when you control for traditional insurance rating factors such as town of residence, years of experience and so on.  The study was cited in the state's environmental plan and  generated some buzz in the press [1] [2] [3].  More recently for TRB 2012 we submitted an academic paper on the subject and I presented our findings at the conference.  The paper is now in press for publication in Transportation Research Record.

Bicyclist safety

Bike and pedestrian safety are also important issues to me.  I wrote my M.I.T. thesis, "Street Typology and Bicyclist Safety: A Systems Approach",on the safety of cyclists on residential side streets versus busy thoroughfares.  I looked at the data in two cities: Berkeley, CA, and Cambridge, MA.  In Berkeley, traffic-calmed "bicycle boulevards" run parallel to each major arterial, but the arterials themselves are untreated.  In Cambridge, most major streets have bike lanes, while side streets are usually untreated.  Using police-reported collision data and manual count data, I find that Berkeley's bicycle boulevards are two to eight times safer than the corresponding arterial roads.  In Cambridge I did not find anything conclusive.  I presented my Berkeley findings at TRB 2011 and published a paper, Cyclist Safety on Bicycle Boulevards and Parallel Routes in Berkeley, California [full text] in Accident Analysis and Prevention.


Urban parking is a major interest of mine.  While in graduate school I conducted some research on curb parking right here in Cambridge. My paper, "Evaluating whether curb parking is the highest and best use of land in an urban commercial district: A case study of Harvard Square", won two awards from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.  In it I conduct a census of parking available in Harvard Square, catalog the pricing and hours of on- and off-street facilities, collect data on on-street parking utilization, and estimate the value of alternative land uses.  The City later extended its paid parking hours in Harvard Square and, at the request of folks at the City, I also conducted a brief follow-up study to assess the impact of the change.

  Eric Vallabh Minikel 2012