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The Initiative for Bicycle & Pedestrian Innovation at Portland State University hosted a weeklong boot camp on bicycle and pedestrian design geared toward transportation planners, engineers and other public officials.

“There’s a dearth of knowledge among most practitioners,” said IBPI Director Lynn Weigand. “Most engineering and planning curricula don’t include any elements of bicycle and pedestrian planning and design.

“There’s an increased demand for alternatives to make communities safer for biking and walking.”

The intensive course, Aug. 15 to 19, featured classroom sessions, discussions, daily field tours of Portland facilities and project applications. Public- and private-sector experts served as program instructors.

For attendees, the program offered the chance to learn how various active transportation concepts fit together in one community.  Tyler Palmer, a division manager with the Moscow, Idaho, public works department, came looking for guidance on his city’s multimodal transportation master plan.

“This is going to be really helpful for us in steering that process,” Palmer said. “It will help give us the tools we need to analyze our system and see what works best.”

Jumping into a master plan without those tools...

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Fixing a community’s pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure issues could be as simple as turning on one’s smart phone in the future. At least that’s the hope of OTREC researchers Marc Schlossberg, Ken Kato, Dana Maher, Cody Evers, and Christo Brehm of the University of Oregon.

In the report, Transportation Planning Through Mobile Mapping (Read The Full Report Here), researchers developed and tested the Fix This Tool, a smart phone application that allows community members to assess problems within their transportation environment. The goal was to create a tool that could be affordably distributed to communities across the country so pedestrians and cyclists can actively participate in improving their means of transportation.

As the desire for reduced carbon emissions, reduced congestion, and reduced public spending on transportation infrastructure grows, many state and local governments are looking to encourage walking and bicycling in their communities as an alternative to cars. However, current data on pedestrian and bike networks are limited and there is little understanding on what constitutes appropriate bike and pedestrian infrastructure. To remedy this, local governments must engage residents to find out challenges current users face and what infrastructure is needed to increase biking and walking by residents.

Previous OTREC research developed a tool built on a GIS platform (using ArcPad...

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While the national parks system may have some of the most natural areas in America, there’s nothing natural about how most Americans travel through them: by car.

Todd Johnson, an OTREC graduate research assistant, is hoping to change that for at least one state park. The Eno Transportation Foundation recently chose Johnson for a year-long assignment to find ways to reduce traffic congestion at Arches National Park near Moab, UT.  Every year, Eno puts out five assignments throughout the country to improve transportation at national parks and monuments.

Johnson, a Master of Science student in civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, previously worked as a transportation interpreter at Rock Mountain National Park, encouraging people to take a shuttle service rather than driving.  He has a similar goal for his stint at Arches.

“We want to get people out of their cars,” Johnson said. “Right now when the parking lots fill up, people park on the side of the road, creating a safety hazard and diminishing the beauty of the park. I will help with implementing solutions to deal with congestion using (Intelligent Transportation Systems) and social media.”

Johnson, an avid cyclist, will also be looking at encouraging alternative forms of transportation through Arches. The park is looking to construct more hiking and biking trails to prevent visitors from driving from one attraction to another, Johnson said. Currently, the park’s roads...

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Every year, graduate and undergraduate students from Portland State University’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning perform projects to aid urban planning efforts in local communities. On Tuesday, May 31, several students from PSU’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program took to the podium to present what they had accomplished after nearly six months of hard work.

When Amy Hesse, a graduate student in the MURP program, traveled to Redmond to learn more about efforts to encourage bicycling in the eastern Oregon community, she found plenty of people interested biking. But she also found that many were not doing so because they felt unsafe. Hesse, along with students April Cutter, Reza Farhoodi and Spencer Williams, developed a project called B-Spoke which sought to create a bicycle refinement plan for the city of Redmond.

“Our goal was to build off the city’s existing transportation system plan by identifying assets and barriers to increased ridership,” said Hesse. “People told me, ‘I don’t feel safe’ and we looked for new ways to overcome that. It wasn’t so much telling (Redmond locals) what they should do, but seeing what we could learn from them.”

While Redmond had many assets to cycling, including existing bike trail systems, a lack of east-west connectivity and dangerous highway crossings prevented many from biking more frequently, or at all, outside of recreation. Women were the gender with the most interest in cycling, but...

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As a bicycle and pedestrian planning consultant, it bothered Robert Schneider that no one seemed to know exactly what made people choose to walk or bicycle. So he set out to change that.

Now a doctoral candidate from the University of California Berkeley, Schneider will share what he found out during a seminar Friday in Portland.

Working on projects including the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, Schneider always sought a solid explanation for people’s transportation choices. “There was a great interest in walking and bicycling, and communities were doing more planning for those modes,” he said. “But there was also a big need for more detailed research and an understanding of what motivates people to walk and bicycle.”

Those motivations make up Schneider’s dissertation research. He developed a five-step theory on how people choose travel modes, noting that walking and cycling could be promoted at each step: awareness and availability, basic safety and security, convenience, enjoyment, and habit.

To develop the theory, Schneider surveyed 1,000 people at 20 San Francisco Bay Walgreen’s stores in 2009 and held 26 follow-up interviews the next year. He found an association between shorter travel distances and both walking and cycling. He also found that people who walk or bicycle report that they...

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OTREC Director Jennifer Dill's recent trip to Europe found people of all ages and walks of life on bicycles, perhaps not surprising given the resources dedicated to bicycle facilities. Photos in the slideshow are from Milan (first four) and Munich (last five).

Check out the bike museum photo of tire concepts: imagine riding to work on springs or corks!

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University of Oregon master’s student Kory Northrop won an award for the best poster at the recent Region X Student Transportation Conference in Corvallis. Northrop, a second-year Environmental Studies student, along with Planning, Public Policy and Management students Michael Duncan and Ted Sweeney, presented their work Feb. 18.

The poster showcased work the group did as part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, one of three OTREC-supported initiatives. The group presented its work in creating a bicycle infrastructure database for Salem, Ore.

 “Our goal was to create a tool that would help inform and encourage cyclists of all skill and comfort levels,” says Kory. “Our model provides qualitative information about city streets that allows decision makers and citizens to identify streets with high degrees of perceived danger, show where cyclists of varying confidence levels can comfortably ride, and calculate distance-based and comfort-based routing.”

The Region X Student Transportation Conference is a showcase for student transportation research in the Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska. Region X serves as a microcosm of transportation for the entire country, with a diversity of modes,...

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As a bicycle advocate in the early 1990s, Mia Birk was young, idealistic and unaware of the struggles she would face, she told a Eugene audience, with many of those attending in much the same position Birk once found herself in. Birk spoke at the “Movers and Shakers: Connecting People and Places” series presented by LiveMove, the University of Oregon transportation and livability student group.

Birk’s story started in her native Dallas, where her family drove everywhere, even across the street. “It never occurred to us to walk, and it never occurred to us that this was anything but normal.”

When the lifestyle left her overweight and unhappy, Birk found a way out through bicycling. She came to Portland to spread that happiness as the city’s bicycle coordinator in 1993.

It wasn’t so easy, Birk said, and took battles that went far beyond bikes. Opponents emerged quickly from all sectors; it took a while for allies to coalesce.

“Bicycling doesn’t exist on its own,” she said. “You need really sensible land use policy so you can choose bicycling. Good transit is really critical; really good neighborhoods with local schools and bicycle transportation—they all go hand in hand.”

Even the best bike lanes and separated paths won’t get everyone on a bike, Birk said. European cities with high ridership use the carrot-and-stick approach combining incentives for bicycling and disincentives for driving...

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Portland State University transportation engineering students added their expertise to a yearlong effort to help Salem reinvent itself. The Urban Transportation Systems class looked at options to improve bicycle and pedestrian travel in the city’s downtown core.

The effort is part of the Sustainable Cities Initiative, one of three OTREC-funded initiatives. The initiative, led by co-directors Marc Schlossberg and Nico Larco at the University of Oregon, chooses one Oregon city per year to make its classroom, directing coursework to help the city adopt sustainable practices.

This year is the first to include Portland State University’s participation. Students in assistant Professor Chris Monsere’s Civil Engineering 454 class gave presentations Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 on several alternatives to improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation and safety. Projects included:

  • Accommodating the bicycle and pedestrian crossing on Union Street at Commercial Street while considering impacts to automobile traffic
  • Connecting cyclists and pedestrians at the end of the Union Street path at Wallace Road
  • A bicycle and pedestrian route west of Wallace Road
  • Converting selected one-way streets to two-way operation
  • Traffic analysis of options drafted by bicycle advocates for the intersection of Commercial and Liberty streets at Vista Avenue
  • Bicycle...
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