The Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) held its 2017 annual Summer Meeting June 19–21 in Buffalo, New York.

The annual meeting draws the nation’s leading transportation professionals from academia and industry, along with U.S. DOT and other transportation agency officials. The event serves as a venue to exchange information and enhance collaboration between university transportation centers (UTCs). UTCs are research consortiums based at universities and focused on transportation topics. The UTC at Portland State University managed by TREC is the National Insitute of Transportation and Communities, or NITC.

Jennifer Dill, the director of TREC and NITC, attended the meeting this week along with associate director Hau Hagedorn and research and education program administrator Eva-Maria Muecke. Dill spoke on a panel about UTC operations with fellow UTC directors Atorod Azizinamini of Florida International University and Denver Tolliver of North Dakota State University. The panel was moderated by Lily Elefteriadou, director of the University of Florida Transportation Institute.

The panel members outlined the structure of their UTC and addressed a range of questions about how a UTC operates. Topics included how to collaborate and obtain match...

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Psychology teaches us that implicit biases—attitudes we hold on a level below consciousness, and may not even be aware of—can have a heavy influence on split-second decisions.

In a fast-paced activity like driving, with a lot of moving parts in a complex environment, we make those snap decisions all the time. There are obvious safety implications to this, particularly for the most vulnerable road users. That’s why TREC researchers are becoming more and more interested in studying implicit bias and social psychology as it relates to transportation behavior.

The latest report from the NITC program, Exploring Drivers’ Attitudes and Behaviors toward Bicyclists: The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Attitudes on Self-Reported Safety Behaviors, is a dissertation by NITC fellow Tara Goddard.

With a focus on driver-cyclist interactions, Goddard dives into the social psychology of roadway interactions and comes up with some interesting takeaways for practitioners and researchers. Before moving to Portland in 2011 to begin her Ph.D., Goddard was the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the City of Davis, California, and says that it’s important to understand the mechanisms...

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A NITC study took a look at how metropolitan planning organizations, or MPOs, can better serve transportation-disadvantaged and historically marginalized populations when creating regional transportation plans.

The transportation disadvantaged are those unable to drive or who lack access to an automobile, and may include the elderly, low income, young people, persons with disabilities, and those with permanent or temporary health conditions. Historically marginalized communities are often left out of the planning process and include many of the same groups but also ethnic and racial minorities.

A new freeway, with all its attendant air and noise pollution, might cut through a part of town where low-income and minority populations are concentrated. Bike lanes sometimes wait to make an appearance until a neighborhood has begun to gentrify. People over the age of 60, as well as people of color, are at greater risk of being killed by a car while walking. Low-income neighborhoods often have poor access to regional transportation networks, making getting to and from work and other destinations a challenge for residents. English language proficiency is a barrier to participating in the transportation planning process and is also recognized as a dimension of transportation disadvantage.

To address problems like this, equity needs to be a priority in every regional transportation planning process. 

The report,...

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While it’s generally accepted that dense, mixed-use development promotes active travel, researchers don’t have a consensus on exactly how, and to what degree, land use determines people’s travel patterns.

NITC’s latest report, Active Travel Behavior and Spatial-Temporal Land Use Mixing, provides some clarity on the topic.

NITC fellow Steven Gehrke focused his dissertation research on transportation-land use interaction, and sees land use mix as a multidimensional construct.

“We can refocus—away from increasing density—and think more about how we configure land uses,” Gehrke said.

According to Gehrke’s research, more density does not necessarily equal more walking. Rather, the complementarity, composition, and configuration of land use types is essential for cultivating walkability.

Gehrke, who graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Portland State University, conducted three empirical studies under his dissertation grant. The first focused on improving measurements of land use mix, introducing a land use mix measurement of the composition and configuration of local land use types.

The second study looked at other smart growth principles, like employment concentration and pedestrian-...

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NITC, through the Oregon Tech ITE Student Chapter, partnered with the ASCE/AGC Student Chapters to work with middle/high school students from the Klamath Basin in the design and construction of a pedestrian trail bridge near the Oregon Tech campus. See below for full story by Samantha Tipler, Klamath County School District.

Oregon Tech has linked up with Lost River Jr./Sr. High School to build bridges – both metaphorical and actual – between the two schools. Since March 17, the Oregon Tech Student Chapter of ASCE-AGC have been working with the Lost River STEM Club to design and build a bridge on the Oregon Tech trail up to the “O” near the solar power array on campus.OTBridge2017

“You wouldn’t think a couple seventh graders would be much help to make a big old bridge,” said Dustyn Verley, 13, “but it makes us pretty proud, I’d say.” Dystyn said that after helping pour concrete into wood forms on Friday, May 5. That was a no-school day for students and 13 of the 20 STEM Club members spent the day building the forms and digging holes for the concrete bridge.

“They’re gaining real life experience in seeing how bridges are built,” Lost River science teacher Mark Ferrara said, showing...

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May was national bike month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast.

The NITC-supported ITE student chapter at the Oregon Institute of Technology helped to organize a "Bike, Walk or Run to Work" day on Friday, May 19.

Klamath County Public Health and the Blue Zones Project partnered to bring Bike to Work events to five locations around the town of Klamath Falls, Oregon, the home of Oregon Tech. 

Community members were invited to bike, walk, or run to work on May 19 and stop in at Gathering Grounds Roastery, Sky Lakes Medical Center, Mia & Pia's Pizzeria & Brewhouse, 173rd Fighter Wing, Kingsley Field, or Klamath Community College for free breakfast and refreshments.

There was also a raffle, with prize drawings at 5:.30 p.m. at Gaucho Collective.

The more participants actively commuted to work throughout the week, the more chances they had to win prizes.

Oregon Tech's ITE Student Chapter member staffed four breakfast stations across the Klamath Basin to encourage community members to consider healthier forms of transportation for their commutes.

By bringing residents, worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and government together, Blue Zones and Oregon Tech hope to inspire a community movement to improve quality of life for everyone. Bike to Work day was an indicator of that growing...

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As social media comes to permeate every aspect of modern life, public transit is no exception.

Transit agencies are increasingly making social media an integral part of their day-to-day management, using it to connect with riders about system alerts, live transit arrival information, service disruptions and customer feedback.

However, there is very little evidence to show how effective these efforts really are in achieving agency goals.

Measuring the Impacts of Social Media on Advancing Public Transit, a NITC project led by Jenny Liu of Portland State University, seeks to provide a better understanding of how transit agencies use social media and to develop some performance measures to assess the impacts of social media on promoting public transit.

This project aims to measure how social media actually impacts agency goals like increasing recruitment and retention of transit riders; increasing resources and customer satisfaction; addressing system performance efficiency; and improving employee productivity and morale.

A survey of 27 public transportation providers across the country found that although 94% of those surveyed agencies used some form of social media, only 28% had a social media plan or strategy prior to implementation.

Liu’s research explores the types of performance measures that could...

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Principal Investigator: Nathan McNeil
Learn more about this research by viewing the Summary Report, related publications and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

While bike-sharing systems become increasingly common in American cities, questions about the equity of such systems are making their way to the forefront of the conversation.

Bike share can provide a cheap and healthy means of transportation, but many systems are not serving the lower-income and minority populations who, arguably, could benefit most from having the additional travel option.

A survey of 56 bike share system operators in the United States offers an overview of how these equity concerns are being addressed.

The survey is part of a larger research effort, Evaluating Efforts to Improve the Equity of Bike Share Systems. To gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved in providing more equitable bike share, TREC and NITC teamed up with the Better Bike Share Partnership: a collaboration between PeopleForBikes, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the...

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Everyday cycling for transportation can have positive, population-level health impacts. Significant deterrents to cycling remain, however, particularly for women and minorities.

Narratives of Marginalized Cyclists, a NITC project conducted by Amy Lubitow of Portland State University, explores the experiences of women and minorities biking in Portland, Oregon.

Lubitow interviewed 28 Portlanders who self-identified as a woman or as a racial/ethnic minority (or both), and based on the insights gained from their stories, came up with a set of recommended interventions for planners to mitigate the barriers they experience.

"Institutionalized racism and sexism is hard to fix. These are complicated issues that involve multiple levels of interventions, but at a basic sort of smaller scale, there are things we can do," Lubitow said.

She chose participants who own a bike and ride it at least once a month, but not more than once a week. The primary aim of the project was to collect rich, narrative data regarding obstacles to routine or utilitarian cycling for women and minorities who already see biking as a viable form of transportation, but who make relatively few bike trips.

The interviews yielded a...

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We drive on infrastructure from the last century, never knowing when its shaking in the wind might herald a collapse, while in our hands are devices that can communicate with satellites, capture high-definition video and sense the motion of a fly. To C.J. Riley, it seemed like the one should be able to help with the other.

Riley, an associate professor of civil engineering at the Oregon Institute of Technology, is working on NITC research aimed at using low-cost, ubiquitous technology—like third-generation iPods—to evaluate the soundness of bridges and other transportation structures.

The goal of his just-published NITC education project, Dynamic Evaluation of Transportation Structures with iPod-Based Data Acquisition, was to expand Oregon Tech’s research lab while simultaneously figuring out two things: how can widely available technology be leveraged to assess structural integrity, and what is the best way to teach students this process?

To address both questions, Riley established the Structural Health and Kinetic Evaluation (SHAKE) Laboratory at Oregon Tech. While exploring options for structural assessment, Riley put some new lab tools in the hands of his graduate students: twelve third-generation iPod touch mobile devices with on-board accelerometers, Texas Instruments SensorTags, virtual visual sensors, and a...

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