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Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program matches students with clients every year to execute professional-level planning projects.

 

This spring, InSite Planning Group, a team of six MURP students, conducted a detailed corridor study for the city of Beaverton.

 

The ...

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Five teams of Portland State University seniors worked on projects in the transportation arena, as the final outcome of their Capstone course.
The transportation Capstone projects were completed under the advisement of Dr. Robert Bertini, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Portland State University and OTREC’s founding director.
Senior Capstone projects in engineering are about more than just technical aspects of design. They are an opportunity for students to meet with clients and consult with professionals, to develop the communication and collaboration skills which will be necessary in future careers.
John Edwards, a student team leader, described the project as a great opportunity. “We learned a great deal about project management and communication in working with professionals,” Edwards said.
In each project, students met with clients under the guidance of faculty to come up with solutions to problems that the clients were facing.

A group led by Krista Hager worked on a concept design for bicycle parking at the Goose Hollow eastbound MAX Station in southwest Portland, Ore.

The existing grade conditions and the...
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Portland State University students in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program came up with some innovative transit solutions for the Salem-Keizer area, just south of Portland, Ore. in the Willamette Valley.

The Salem-Keizer transit provider, known as Cherriots, requested that a planning group come up with alternative forms of transit that would be a better fit for the study area. MURP students Darwin Moosavi, Brenda Martin, CJ Doxsee, Mike Sellinger, Lauren Wirtis and Matt Berggren took on the challenge as their capstone project.

The bus service currently provided by Salem-Keizer Transit is inefficient in the low-density neighborhoods of West Salem, South Salem, and Keizer. Buses in those neighborhoods often run half-full, or nearly empty, along looping, circuitous roads that lack an interconnected grid pattern.

The student team, Paradigm Planning, proposed a “flexible transit” system which can better serve this type of low-density suburban area.

Fixed-route transit is typical bus service, in which buses come to predefined stops at regularly scheduled intervals. Demand-responsive or paratransit, the opposite extreme, is an on-demand service typically reserved for the elderly or disabled, in which a rider calls to be picked up by a bus at...

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On Saturday, May 31, Green Street Stewards of Portland, Ore. held a block party to celebrate and foster community partnerships.
Green Street Stewards are community members who have volunteered to help support and maintain Portland’s Green Streets, a program that was started in 2003 by the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) as an environmentally friendly way to manage stormwater runoff.
Green Streets facilities are streetside planters or gardens that capture runoff and feed it into rivers and streams, taking advantage of the natural ability of soil and vegetation to filter out pollutants.
To galvanize community support and raise awareness about the program, the Stewards partnered with a capstone course taught by Thaddeus Miller, an assistant professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning. As part of her capstone project, Portland State University student Taylor Balakrishnan helped organize the block party. 
 
"It was really good for us to gain some experience planning an event like this, and to see a positive outcome,” Balakrishnan said.
The block party was held in the Lents Park area, a neighborhood of southeast Portland. The event’s partners included the City of Portland’s...
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In a pilot study funded by the NITC Small Starts program, researchers explored whether drivers behave differently toward pedestrians waiting to use a crosswalk based on the pedestrian’s race. The study – the first examining the effects of race on pedestrian crossing experiences – found that black pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and waited nearly a third longer to cross than white pedestrians.

Minorities are disproportionately represented among pedestrian fatalities in the United States. The Center for Disease Control reported in 2013 that in the first decade of this century, the fatality rates for black and Hispanic men were twice as high as they were for white men.

Researchers Kimberly Barsamian Kahn and Tara Goddard of Portland State University, and Arlie Adkins, of the University of Arizona, hypothesized that if minority pedestrians experience more delay at crosswalks, they might take greater risks when crossing – risks that could contribute to the disparate fatality rates.

Kahn, an assistant professor of social psychology, studies contemporary forms of racial bias that are hidden within society. Working with Goddard and Adkins, who were interested in the social equity impacts of transportation, Kahn put together a controlled field experiment to measure differences in...

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A team of students from Portland State University took second place this week in the Cornell Cup USA, with a traffic hazard predictor called SAFE.
SAFE, or Situational Awareness Fault?Finder Extension, is an intelligent device that could be used with bicycles, motorcycles, or automobiles, though it was created with the safety of two-wheeled travelers in mind.
The device is designed to enhance a vehicle operator's situational awareness. It tracks the movement of vehicles behind the user, monitoring their position, velocity, and acceleration.
 
Click here to see the SAFE team's poster.
The SAFE creators considered giving the user an overhead representation of the surrounding traffic, with color-coded alerts to signify approaching danger, but felt that that might be too distracting. Citing research that showed that people react more quickly to audio than visual cues, they decided to give the user feedback through stereo audio. 
The device sends a periodic beep to alert the user of impending accidents from the rear. It modulates the stereo, tempo, and amplitude to indicate...
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With the emergence of electric vehicles (EVs) as an environmentally friendly alternative to the internal combustion engine, OTREC researcher Robert Bass decided to investigate some of the uncharted effects of their growing prevalence.

Bass is interested in measuring and understanding the impacts that electric vehicle charging stations have on their cities’ power distribution systems.

Electric Avenue, located on the Portland State University campus where Bass is an associate professor, is the perfect research opportunity: a row of EV charging stations along Southwest Montgomery Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in downtown Portland, Ore.

Launched in August 2011 as a joint project by Portland General Electric, PSU and the City of Portland, Electric Avenue is intended as a research platform for understanding the impact EVs have within the larger context of the city.

Nonlinear loads such as EV chargers can introduce power quality issues to a city’s electricity distribution system. Bass, with PSU undergraduate student Nicole Zimmerman, set out to measure the power quality effects of EV chargers along Electric Avenue.

Power quality manifests in several ways; for this study, the researchers focused on...

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OTREC research from Portland State University has developed a new method of travel demand modeling for pedestrian trips.

Transportation professionals use travel demand modeling to forecast how many people will be using a given portion of the transportation infrastructure. This is typically done using a four-step process, the first step of which relies upon a basic unit known as a transportation analysis zone, or TAZ.

A TAZ is a relatively coarse unit of space that can vary in size depending on planners’ needs; typically it encompasses somewhere around 3,000 residents.

Planners started using TAZs in the 1950s, on mainframe computers with limited capabilities, for guidance in making highway investment decisions. As transportation modeling practice has evolved, computers are capable of processing more data and models are being increasingly relied upon to answer more complex questions. 

Despite growing investment in infrastructure that supports active forms of travel, existing modeling tools often poorly represent the nuances of the pedestrian environment. The project’s principal investigator, Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, explores ways to improve upon the modeling tools currently in existence.

When considering pedestrian travel, the current practice is usually to...

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OTREC researchers and students from the Oregon Institute of Technology have teamed up with Green Lite Motors to test a next-generation hybrid car.

Green Lite Motors, a clean-tech start-up company based in Portland, Ore., has developed a small, three-wheeled, gas-electric hybrid vehicle based on the platform of a Suzuki Burgman scooter.

The vehicle is classed as a motorcycle, and has all the advantages of the smaller vehicle — it doesn’t take up a whole parking space, and it gives off fewer emissions — but it also has an advanced roll-cage design, giving it the safety and comfort of a standard passenger car. It has two wheels in the front, one in the back, and mileage possibilities greater than 100 miles per gallon.

The target market areas for this two-passenger vehicle are urban commute zones, where large numbers of people travel daily from suburban homes to city-based professions. 

The tiny hybrid car could change the commuting experience, minimizing gas expenditure and cutting down the time people spend looking for parking.

Green Lite has developed two prototypes.

The...

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Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.

How long is too long to wait for the light to change? At stoplights, pedestrians often experience longer delays while cars are given priority.

To design traffic signals that serve the needs of walkers, planners must understand the motivations behind pedestrian behaviors.

Working with professors Kelly Clifton and Christopher MonsereSirisha Kothuri of Portland State University created a survey designed to shed some light on what makes pedestrians decide to follow, or not follow, traffic laws.

To collect data, Kothuri and a team of graduate students armed with an 11-question survey posted themselves at four different intersections in northeast Portland, Ore.

Two of the intersections had recall signals, where pedestrians are automatically detected, and the other two had actuated signals, where pedestrians must press a button to get the light to change.

Survey respondents were asked for their attitudes about delay in signal timing, and for the reasons that determined their crossing the street.

Responses showed that pedestrians were more content...

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