For someone who refuses to make predictions, Brian David Johnson has a long list of examples of how the future he envisioned came true.
It’s his job, after all.
As a futurist, Johnson helps organizations imagine what they’ll be doing 10 years in the future and then models the steps they’ll need to achieve that vision.
Johnson will describe his work, and offer insights relevant to transportation professionals, as the keynote speaker at the Transportation and Communities Summit Sept. 9 at Portland State University.
Transportation figures heavily into both popular visions of the future and Johnson’s work—but not in the same way. “Cities and transportation and infrastructure are some of the most important parts of futurecasting”—Johnson’s name for this method of modeling—he said.
Although audiences raised on jet pack-based transportation science fiction don’t welcome this message, “the cities of the future are going to look like the cities of today,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the most unpopular things I tell people.”
But consider the alternative. “Culturally, we value the past, and our future will look a lot like that,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing. ‘The Jetsons’ is a sci-fi dystopia.”
Finding a future that looks like the present, or even the past, is a surprising theme in Johnson’s work, which has included consulting for firms such as Intel and trade...Read more
In the spring of 2015, with guidance provided by the NITC program, students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York created a pedestrian and bicycle plan for the City of Canandaigua, New York.
As part of their Sustainable Community Development capstone course, the students in environmental studies provided plans for a mixed use district along Route 332 in Canandaigua.
Course instructor Jim Ochterski credits PSU researcher Lynn Weigand’s NITC education project, Enhancing Bicycle and Pedestrian Education through Curriculum and Faculty Development, with providing essential resources for the course.
“Most of the students did not have any grounding in pedestrian planning and development, and [the NITC materials] made a huge difference,” Ochterski said.
Part of the mission of the NITC program is to enrich transportation education. One way our university partners do this is by developing curricula to advance transportation and livability goals in the classroom.
Weigand's project was intended for just this purpose. She created a module-based curriculum for bicycle and pedestrian planning and design that was designed to be adaptable for use in a variety of course offerings.
The HWS instructors took that curriculum and ran with it.
“We took on a major community project in ped/bike planning because we had these support materials from the program. It allowed us to...Read more
The National Institute for Transportation and Communities program, or NITC, has selected its latest round of general research projects. The NITC executive committee chose to fund 11 out of 28 proposals submitted for funding.
Eligible resarchers from the program's five campuses (in this solicitation, Portland State Univeristy, University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and University of South Florida) submitted proposals representing $2.8 million in funding, far more than the $986,000 available. Funded proposals feature principal investigators from each NITC partner campus: four from Portland State, one from Oregon Tech and two each from University of Oregon, University of Utah and University of South Florida. Three projects involved collaboration between universities.
The selected projects are:
- Evaluating and Enhancing Public Transit Systems for Operational Efficiency, Service Quality and Access Equity, Ran Wei (University of Utah), Liming Wang & Aaron Golub (Portland State University)
- Rapid Transportation Structure Evaluation Toolkit, Charles Riley (Oregon Institute of Technology)
- Does Compact Development Increase or Reduce Traffic Congestion?, Reid Ewing (University of Utah)
Miranda Barrus and Danit Hubbell have had quite a year.
With support from the NITC program, after being awarded WTS Portland Chapter Scholarships last December, the two Oregon Tech students traveled to the annual WTS conference in Austin May 18–20.
“It is always encouraging to be in the presence of hundreds of women in the engineering industry when it is often seen as a male dominant field,” Barrus said. “While the entire conference was beneficial, the highlights for me were hearing the presentations by Lilly Ledbetter and her fair pay act, and by Jacy Good and Steve Johnson advocating against distracted driving. Both stories had an intense impact on me personally.” Barrus was also the 2016 recipient of the WTS CH2M Hill Partnership Scholarship and the 2014 recipient of the Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship.
Last year, Barrus and Hubbell traveled to Chicago for the 2015 International WTS Conference, making this their second year to experience the annual gathering.
“I would say...Read more
TREC has a job opening for a Research and Education Program Administrator. This position is responsible for the day-to-day administrative research, education, and diversity programs.
Primary responsibilities include:
- Project Administration. Tracking and reporting research, education, and diversity projects from inception to project close-out. Coordinating and requesting progress reports; entering and keeping up-to-date entries in the TRB Research in Progress (RIP) database; ensuring that data entered into the Proposal and Project Management System (PPMS) are current; sending out final report and overdue reminders; and finalizing final reports including coordinating peer reviews and collecting final project metrics.
- Program Administration. Administering the competitive, peer-reviewed, project selection process including the annual Request for Proposal (RFP), pooled-fund, small starts, undergraduate research fund and dissertation fellowships. Tasks include coordinating peer reviews, coordinating executive committee meetings, creating and updating related forms, Principal Investigator Handbook, FAQs, and other related materials; assisting with awards and task orders; posting information to the website and updating online system to accept new proposals, and distributing information via email. Coordinate the selection of the student of the year selection, and maintain contact with the student groups from partner campuses.
TREC is offering a free summer program for high school girls who are interested in transportation studies.
The Summer Transportation Institute will run from July 11–22, 2016.
It is part of a national initiative funded by the FHWA to address the need of a diverse workforce in the 21st century.
The two-week intensive summer day camp will consist of classroom instruction in the mornings and field tours in the afternoons.
Field tours will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the agencies and systems that operate in Portland, and the classroom sessions will provide an understanding of the tools that transportation professionals use to achieve community goals.
Students will gain the skills necessary to solve complex transportation problems and make real change in their communities, as well as a firsthand look at how the Portland transportation universe functions.
In addition, the course will have a focus on social justice, with an examination of how to increase transportation availability and service to traditionally underserved communities.
The course administrator, Sarah Dougher, is an American singer-songwriter, author, and teacher based in Portland, Oregon. TREC is fortunate to have her skills and experience focused on this one-of-a-kind program....Read more
A technical training workshop for walkable and livable neighborhoods was held at the Oregon Institute of Technology on Friday, 13.
The "Streets For All People" workshop was offered in partnership with the Oregon Institute of Technology Civil Engineering Department and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).
Paul Zykofsky of the Local Government Commission’s in Sacramento, California facilitated the training. He also directs programs related to land use and transportation planning, community design, and health and the built environment.
Samantha Thomas and Dan Burden of the Blue Zones Project, who also facilitated training at Oregon Tech, were in Eugene for the Build Healthy Neighborhoods Workshops, May 12-15, 2016. These workshops were designed to demonstrate how all people can play a role in making neighborhoods more walkable and livable for all users, ages, and abilities.
The Blue Zones Project is a community well-being improvement initiative designed to make healthy choices easier through permanent changes to environment, policy, and social networks.
A powerful educational tool that also achieves planning results for communities is spreading from Oregon to universities around the world.
The Sustainable City Year Program, or SCYP, is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, a cross-disciplinary organization supported by NITC and based at the University of Oregon.
With the guidance provided in a new NITC report, replicating the program will be easier than ever.
What makes the SCYP so successful is its unique approach to teaching: students in various disciplines are recruited to work on real-world projects and create solutions for communities, free of charge. Community partners are chosen through a competitive selection process.
In a NITC technology transfer project, "Disseminating the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) Educational Model," the program’s co-founders Nico Larco and Marc Schlossberg have published a specific set of strategies and resources to help universities construct similar experience-based learning programs.
- Download the report here.
"One of the great things...Read more
Alex Bigazzi, a 2014 NITC dissertation fellow and graduate of Portland State University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program, has published a paper based on his NITC-funded research in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
See ACS coverage of the project here.
Bigazzi's research evaluates the concentration of air pollution encountered by cyclists in Portland, Oregon.
In the study, volunteer research subjects rode bicycles equipped with instruments to collect high-resolution bicycle, rider, traffic and environmental data.
Participants rode a variety of routes including bicycle lanes on primary and secondary arterials, bicycle boulevards, off-street paths and mixed-use roadways. They were told to ride at a pace and exertion level typical for utilitarian travel, and breath biomarkers were used to record the amount of traffic-related pollution present in each cyclist’s exhalations.
This research was the focus of Bigazzi's dissertation, Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System, published by NITC in December 2014. It was related to an earlier project...Read more
NITC researchers have tested a method of collecting transportation behavior data using a smartphone app, with promising results.
The process could save transit agencies “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says lead researcher Christopher Bone, and give them access to comprehensive, real-time data about their ridership, all without compromising passengers’ privacy.
Christopher Bone, Marc Schlossberg, Ken Kato, Jacob Bartruff and Seth Kenbeek of the University of Oregon designed a custom mobile application, which allows passengers to volunteer information about their travel habits, and recruited passengers to use it in a test case.
Their report, “Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data,” was released this month.
Participants were asked to use the app for three weeks on Lane Transit District’s EmX bus line located in the Eugene-Springfield area in western Oregon. Researchers placed sensors on the buses and at stops to detect when someone using the app was boarding. When a user came within range of a sensor,...Read more