Spotlight Interview: Ipsita Banerjee

Safety is an essential part of sustainable mobility, and working towards zero fatalities and serious injuries definitely promotes that goal.
Ipsita Banerjee
March 27, 2023
Welcome back to the SafeTREC Spotlight Series where we highlight a SafeTREC team member and share their stories, work and interest in transportation and safety research. In today's post, meet Research Data Analyst Ipsita Banerjee.

Can you share a little bit about yourself and your role at SafeTREC?

I am a Research Data Analyst at SafeTREC. Some of you may also know me as the instructor for the graduate course CE259 Public Transportation Systems in the College of Engineering. I received my undergraduate and Master's degrees in transportation planning from India, and my MS and PhD in Transportation from UC Berkeley. Since completing my doctorate, I have consulted on projects related to sustainable motorization in emerging economies, worked for the City of Fremont, worked on transit projects, and a project related to app-based travel data collection when we returned to India for two years. 

What sparked your interest in transportation safety research?

During my first summer as a student at UC Berkeley, I was a Graduate Student Researcher at SafeTREC, analyzing video data on conflicts of pedestrians on opposite crosswalks across the path of vehicles turning left (LTAP/OD). While cognizant of the potential impact of safety research, I was interested in sustainable mobility, and kept returning to SafeTREC between other projects because I really liked the people there! While working in the City of Fremont when its Public Works department was implementing the Vision Zero project, I read the police reports of crashes in intersections that I used on a regular basis. That experience underscored the importance of safety research. Safety is an essential part of sustainable mobility, and working towards zero fatalities and serious injuries definitely promotes that goal. 

What current projects are you working on at SafeTREC?

I am currently working on a project for Caltrans around the Safe System approach and Strategies for Reducing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Injury at the Corridor Level (SMART4). My task for the Safe System component is researching the challenges for the implementation of high-tension cable-barriers and roundabouts in California. It is amazing to learn about the extent of consideration that goes into placing the inconspicuous barriers that line the shoulders and medians of our highways. For SMART4, my task is to incorporate equity considerations into safety monitoring tools. We aim to arrive at a combined safety and equity score that would help Caltrans prioritize sites for safety investigations.

What issues are you particularly interested or passionate about?

I am excited about the various ways roads can be designed to be safe and lively spaces for all road users. Along with data analysis and modeling, I enjoy projects in which the findings translate to tangible design and policies. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work, I enjoy participating in our two sons’ soccer and scouting activities, gardening, and cooking. As a family, we spend our weekends and holidays cheering our team on the soccer fields, hiking, camping, and kayaking, and taking our dog with us wherever she is allowed. For longer vacations, we have loved traveling, especially to India. That was before we had our dog!

This Spotlight interview was conducted in collaboration with UC Berkeley SafeTREC. The opinions and perspectives expressed are those of the interviewee and not necessarily those of SafeTREC.