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The Multnomah Youth Commission, or MYC, held its first Youth Summit on Transit Justice on May 17, 2014 at David Douglas High School.
 
The MYC, a group of young people ages 13-21, plays an advisory role for local government in Multnomah County and the City of Portland.
 
The summit held on Saturday the 17th was an entirely youth-led event, with members of the MYC meeting at David Douglas at 11 a.m. After they spent the morning organizing their materials and preparing their arguments, they opened the doors for adults.
 
PSU professor Lisa Bates, who is studying the transit-dependent population for NITC, was in attendance with her capstone students. As part of a capstone course where students are required to conduct research that leads directly into social equity, Bates’ students worked with the youth of the MYC on transit justice. They applied a social science research foundation to their ideas and assisted them with using some best practices in the field. 
 
At 2:30 p.m., transit policymakers and community leaders began to enter the high school. Following a brief introductory presentation, the young people split up the group into breakout sessions.
 
During the sessions, members of the...
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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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OTREC and the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) are proud to announce the winners of the 2014 IBPI scholarships.

Portland State University students Liz Kaster, Bryan Blanc, and Gena Gastaldi have each been awarded one of three scholarship opportunities from IBPI, made possible through the generous donations of Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich; Alta Planning + Design, and DKS.

The Rex Burkholder and Lydia Rich scholarship supports a graduate student who intends to pursue a career related to bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Liz Kaster, a second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student, was awarded the Alta Planning & Design scholarship through IBPI last year, and this year she has been selected for the Burkholder/Rich scholarship.

As a recipient of the Burkholder/Rich scholarship, Kaster will work with a faculty member to develop and carry out a short-term project on a topic that can immediately help practitioners plan for more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly communities.

This year’s winner of the Alta Planning + Design scholarship is Gena Gastaldi, a MURP student with a focus on active transportation and urban design. The Alta Scholarship supports a graduate student who is highly motivated...

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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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Portland State University is starting a student chapter of WTS (Women’s Transportation Seminar), an international association for transportation professionals. 
The organization has more than 5,000 members worldwide, but only three other student chapters are in existence. The PSU student chapter will be the fourth.
Students who join WTS will have the opportunity to network with professionals working in all areas of transportation. Other benefits to joining include professional development programs, leadership training, membership discounts, and opportunities to apply for special scholarships and grants.
 
The PSU student chapter is likely to thrive, in part because Portland’s professional chapter of WTS has a strong presence in the city, and because PSU’s other student transportation group, STEP (Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning), has a robust membership at the university.
The two student groups expect to cooperate and overlap, while remaining autonomous and offering different benefits to their respective memberships.
The new group’s first event, a meet and greet, was held on Thursday, May 8, in the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU.
 
Susan Wright of...
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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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The Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting took place in Washington, D.C. from January 12-16, 2014. Nearly 12,000 transportation professionals were in attendance, including 75 OTREC/NITC faculty and student researchers.
To recap this exciting event and share their experiences, Portland State University students and local transportation professionals gathered Tuesday, February 11th at the Rock Bottom Brewery, a combination brewery, restaurant and pub located in downtown Portland.
 
Attending the TRB meeting as students gave participants an opportunity to accelerate their development as transportation professionals. Conference sessions and workshops offered a multitude of learning and networking events. Civil & Environmental Engineering graduate student Katie Bell said, “There were so many things going on [at the conference], you could be somewhere from dawn to dusk... it was a really great experience.” 
 
Graduate student Pam Johnson organized the happy hour event, arriving early to make introductions, distribute name tags and help people mingle. Approximately 25 people attended the event, most of them PSU students. There were also representatives there from Kittelson & Associates, Lancaster Engineering, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and...
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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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OTREC hosted a “welcome to the neighborhood” reception last week for managers of TriMet.

The regional transit provider for Portland, Ore, just relocated its offices to a building near the OTREC headquarters. TriMet's arrival in Harrison Square, just a few blocks from PSU in downtown Portland, was toasted by an informal gathering: TriMet executives were invited to the OTREC offices Tuesday, Oct 29 for a meet-and-greet.

The two agencies are both deeply involved with transportation in the Portland region, and since they're going to be neighbors now too, OTREC's education and technology transfer program manager Jon Makler arranged the event.

Several members of TriMet's senior staff joined OTREC staff and researchers for an hour of refreshments, research briefings, and a few rounds of "Transit Route Bingo."

OTREC Director Jennifer Dill and TriMet's Olivia Clark, head of government relations, kicked off the meeting with some welcoming remarks, then Makler gave the TriMet managers a brief powerpoint presentation, explaining the various overlapping areas of transportation at PSU. He introduced them to OTREC, IBPI, and PORTAL, and the role each group plays.

The presentation also featured a slide for each faculty researcher, explaining their areas of special interest and...

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