Webinar: Transportation Academy: Lessons from the Portland Traffic and Transportation Course

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 10:00am to 11:00am PST
Nathan McNeil, Research Associate, Portland State University

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Community involvement and outreach is an important part of any planning effort, but as planners often find, many times the conversation is a difficult one to carry on. Residents may lack the technical knowledge to understand the intricacies of the system, or they may show skepticism toward the planning process in general. “Transportation Leadership Education,” a NITC education project, offers a guide for communities to stimulate the development of a more involved, educated citizenry.

The Portland Traffic and Transportation course is taught each year to 30-40 Portland residents who want to learn more about how the local transportation system developed and how it functions. The course is operated by the Portland Bureau of Transportation in conjunction with Portland State University. It helps participants understand local transportation agencies and their decision-making processes, and how to be involved. Over 1,200 Portland residents have taken the course over more than 20 years.

This webinar will present findings from a case study about the course derived from interviews with the people involved in launching the course, meetings with course instructors, administrators and teaching assistants, a review of course materials, and a survey of past course participants. The course offers a public involvement tool and model for cities to educate and engage residents as partners in improving the effectiveness of transportation agencies in meeting community needs. Providing residents with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively participate in transportation decision-making processes can help increase public participation while improving civic infrastructure.

Using the case study, a model course curriculum was developed to assist other cities in launching a similar course.

Learning takeways include:

  • Participant experiences and benefits for Portland Traffic and Transportation Course students
  • Key considerations for launching and operating a Transportation Academy course
  • Suggested course topics, assignments and readings

Nathan McNeil is a research associate at the Center for Urban Studies at Portland State University. He conducts research around impacts of new bicycle infrastructure and programs on travel behavior and attitudes towards cycling, shared-use mobility programs including carsharing and bike-share, and the connection between land-use and transportation. Nathan received a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University, and studied history at Columbia University as an undergraduate. Prior to PSU, McNeil worked for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City as a performance auditor where he evaluated capital programs and contractors.