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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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In many cases, living in suburbia means relying on an automobile for most trips, even short trips to nearby stores. If housing developments incorporated better paths and sidewalks, however, would anyone use them?

Researcher Nico Larco found that people who live in well-connected developments are significantly more likely to walk and bicycle than those in developments only accessible by automobile. He details his findings in this OTREC report.

Larco, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Oregon, found that people who live in well-connected developments walked to their nearby commercial strips nearly twice as often as did people in less-connected developments. In addition, a greater percentage of residents in well-connected developments reported sometimes walking or cycling.

Despite suburbia’s reputation for large single-family homes, more than a quarter of suburban housing units are higher density. In fact, the suburbs are home to more than 9 million multifamily housing units, with 5 million more projected for the last 20 years. Although these units tend to be near commercial centers, a lack of pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure makes trips using these modes difficult.

For this research project, Larco developed criteria for measuring connectivity in trips taken from, to and through multifamily suburban developments. Studied developments were rated as “well...

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Thursday, Jan. 27 dispatch from the TRB annual meeting in Washington, D.C.:

Not everyone who attends the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., stays until the end. This year, many who planned to leave before Thurday’s sessions just couldn’t pull themselves away.

Thank the snowstorm.

With fresh snow quickly coating the capital region, flights were canceled and delayed while other traffic came to a standstill. Even the annual meeting’s internal transportation system ground to a halt, as shuttle buses between the three conference hotels stopped running. The Capital Bikeshare program that had served attendees so well on a tour of the district earlier in the week shut down for the weather.

Conference attendees got their exercise walking between hotels, and stopping for snowball fights along the way. Others, with an unplanned night in town, gave more business to District bars.

Along the way, a conference dedicated to the multitude of transportation modes ended up highlighting the original: walking. “Turns out I actually walked 6.3 miles (or more) yesterday,” Richard Moeur, a Phoenix-based traffic engineer, wrote on Twitter. “Need snowshoes!”

Jennifer Dill, OTREC’s director, said the streets in the District’s core were clear by Thursdsay, although the scene Wednesday night was chaotic. “The snow does shut down Washington,” Dill said. “Buses were getting stuck going uphill. There was a big line for taxis.”

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Think people who live in suburban developments don't walk and bike? They do, particularly if the development is well-connected. University of Oregon assistant professor Nico Larco has shown this with his OTREC projects.

He explains some of the work himself in this video.

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