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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 research played a prominent role at this year’s Transportation Research Board annual meeting, the preeminent national conference for transportation researchers. An estimated 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world are attending the conference.

A total of 75 affiliated researchers from three campuses of OTREC’s NITC program present their research in 64 lectern and poster sessions Jan. 12-16. Faculty and students presided or presented at an additional 16 workshops, committee meetings and sessions.

Potential presenters at TRB submit full research papers for peer review; only around half of the submitted papers are chosen for presentation at the annual meeting. Portland State University researchers had 41 papers accepted for presentation; University of Oregon, 3; University of Utah, 20. Portland State, University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Utah are partners in the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program. (New NITC partner...

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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.

Steven Farber, of the University of Utah, is conducting research for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) surrounding its potential move to a distance-based fare system.
Typically, transit fares are a flat fee based on a given window of time: riders may pay $2.50 to ride anywhere they wish within a two-hour period, for example.
This system can negatively impact low-income populations, who as a general rule tend to travel shorter distances than people in higher income brackets. In a flat fare system, many low-income riders end up subsidizing the longer trips of wealthier riders.
 
The UTA is considering changing its fares to a distance-based system, wherein riders would pay a fee determined by how far they travel.
Farber, along with co-investigators Keith Bartholomew and Xiao Li of the University of Utah, Antonio Páez of McMaster University, and Khandker M. Nurul Habib of the University of Toronto, conducted a spatial analysis of data from the Utah Household Travel Survey collected in Spring 2012.
They were searching specifically for...
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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.

The bicycle counts suggested that, on Bike to Work Day, more people did bike to work. But did fewer people drive?

OTREC staff researcher Krista Nordback took up the issue and will present her findings Monday, Jan. 13 at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The bike count data from sites across Boulder, Colo., certainly impressed Nordback.  “Bike to Work Day has this huge spike,” she said. “The bike counts double at a lot of the count sites.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could see something similar with the motor vehicle count data?”

In a twist that might only happen in Boulder, with its ample bike counters, Nordback had a harder time tracking down the motor vehicle counts. She lucked out, finding that the city’s red-light cameras had been counting cars alongside their primary job of catching red-light runners.

Those motor vehicle counts showed a consistent drop on Bike-to-Work days compared with average workdays in June and July. It was a small drop, but even finding that was unprecedented: no studies had documented a statistically significant drop in motor vehicle counts during any bike-to-work event.

...

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Continuing a tradition started last year, Portland State University's Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning hosted a gathering called "TRB Aftershock" to showcase student research presented at the recent Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The event also allowed students to network and describe their research with practitioners in an informal setting.

More on the event is at the STEP blog here.

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On Jan. 16, the second-to-last day of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., OTREC research stood out during the poster presentations. That was especially true for student researchers, who presented the majority of the OTREC research.

  • Some highlights: Patrick Singleton presented a review of how metropolitan planning organizations represent walking in their transportation models. His research, with Portland State University's Kelly Clifton, determined that 30 of the 48 largest MPOs include non-motorized travel in their regional models, with 14 also distinguishing between walking and bicycling.
  • Another group working with Clifton offered much-anticipated research on consumer spending and travel choices. Kristina Currans, Christopher Muhs, Chloe Ritter, Sara Morrissey and Collin Roughton presented findings that customers who arrive by modes other than the automobile are competitive consumers, spending similar amounts or more, on average, than their counterparts using automobiles. They are also more frequent patrons on average, presenting a unique marketing opportunity for these businesses.
  • Joseph Broach worked with OTREC Director Jennifer Dill to model children's independent travel to parks and schools and explore factors that may have led to a drop in active trips. They found that peers who bike to school encouraged riding, while helmet use discouraged cycling among 11- to 16-year-olds. For trips to parks, girls...
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A total of 133 researchers from OTREC campuses will have their work featured at the Transportation Research Board national conference the week of Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C. Seventy-two separate sessions will feature research from Portland State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the University of Utah.

The weeklong conference is the event of the year for transportation researchers across the country and an important opportunity for students and faculty to share research results, learn best practices and network.

As OTREC prides itself on developing the next generation of the transportation workforce, students are well represented at the conference. Nearly 50 students will have their research presented at lectern or poster sessions and many of those students are the lead authors of papers accepted for the conference.

Portland State University alone is sending 30 graduate and undergraduate students to the conference. Katherine Bell, a Portland state graduate student, will present research at a freight planning and logistics session on Monday. Bell worked with Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State’s civil and environmental engineering department on an OTREC research project that could mark a sea change in how freight data is collected and used.

Oregon is one of a few states to collect a tax on heavy trucks based on their weight and miles driven. In 2010, The Oregon Department of Transportation started a pilot project to...

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On Feb. 21, OTREC joined with the Portland State University Students in Transportation and Planning (STEP) and the Portland-area News Rail~Volutionaries to host a debrief of January’s annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington DC. Portland was well represented at the TRB meeting with a diverse array of students, faculty, and transportation professionals, and this event brought many of those attendees together at the Lucky Labrador pub in northwest Portland to share stories and lessons learned.

For students, the gathering presented an opportunity to showcase the research they presented TRB. Posters lined the room and many attendees donned buttons bearing the enthusiastic encouragement, “Ask me about TRB!” Built-in icebreakers ensured lively discussions about current issues and research in transportation.

Those who did not get to attend TRB were able to experience a little taste of it in Portland, as those who did go had no shortage of tales about the biggest annual gathering of transportation professionals.    

STEP members in attendance took advantage opportunity to network with potential future employers and coworkers. To aid the soon-to-be graduates in their job hunts, STEP has created a LinkedIn group containing the profiles and resumes of many STEP members.  

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The Transportation Research Board's annual meeting lets OTREC resesarchers share their work with the rest of the country, network and learn from research conducted elsewhere. OTREC faculty, staff and students, with their ubiquitous yellow lanyards, hit Washington, D.C. for research presentations, poster sessions and committee meetings Jan. 21 to 26.

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When people talk about Portland, they talk about weather and bicycling. Judging by the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., researchers are looking into the same two things.

Bikes, of course, draw more interest at a transportation conference than in other circles. Here, Portland continues to draw attention: A single day’s poster session featured no less than seven papers that use Portland as a bicycle research laboratory.

The examination of bicycling and weather drew research looks from around the continent. A paper with authors from OTREC and the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University, Australia, looked at how well different factors, including weather, affect bicycling in Portland, Ore., and Brisbane, Australia.

Light rain, for example, had little effect on bicycling in Portland, said Portland State University’s Miguel Figliozzi, one of the paper’s authors. The drop in ridership was four times as great in Brisbane on drizzly days.

“We’re used to light rain, so the difference is very small in Portland,” Figliozzi said. “In Australia, maybe they are not used to that.”

Geoffrey Rose of Monash University, another author on the paper, said the paper could help transportation decision makers understand and respond to effects of weather on active transportation, particularly as they deal with climate change. “This helps to understand the effects (of weather) on cycling today and what we can do to perhaps...

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