Photo by Sam Balto, Re-Imagining a Safer Route to the César Chávez School

Announcing the New Better Block PSU Projects!

posted on Thursday, April 22, 2021

Since 2013, local transportation activist group Better Block PDX has developed partnerships with organizations across the Portland Metro area. Most notable were the connections that emerged between the communities’ needs for creative transportation solutions and the expertise of Portland State University (PSU) transportation students.

That collaboration evolved into Better Block PSU, a pathway program led by PSU’s Transportation Research and Education Center that integrates tactical urbanism and placemaking into the engineering and planning curriculum at PSU. Most recently we shared an update on Re-Imagining a Safer Route to the César Chávez School, which advanced to the Spring 2021 engineering capstone.

We’re excited to announce the latest projects to have been accepted into the Better Block PSU program:

  • City of Independence Neighborhood Greenways: This project will help create a low-stress biking and walking network through Independence connecting local schools, businesses, and parks.
  • Community Green Space for Parkrose: This project plans to create a pathway from the Parkrose neighborhood to the Columbia Slough to increase access to green space and community knowledge of the Slough.
  • Arleta Triangle Transformation:...
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The latest report funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities – Transit Impacts on Jobs, People and Real Estate, from the University of Arizona – represents the culmination of nearly a decade of research into the economic effects of transit. To unpack the dense and substantial findings from 17 LRT, 14 BRT, 9 SCT, and 12 CRT systems in 35 metro areas across the United States, we're telling the story in chapters starting with: how transit stations impact the location of jobs.


As principal investigator, Dr. Arthur C. Nelson’s research on this topic spans many years:

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Jai Daniels is a first-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) student at Portland State University, currently working with PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) as a Graduate Research Assistant under faculty advisor John MacArthur. She is interested in urban livability, bicycle and pedestrian planning, transit planning, and the intersection between urban planning and the environment.


Tell us about yourself?

I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, often referred to as 'Mayberry.' Living near the Blue Ridge Parkway and not having much to do, apart from spending time outside, largely influenced both my passion for environmental conservation and my desire to travel. This in turn influenced what I chose to study. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 with a degree in environmental studies and minor in city and regional planning. Now, I live in Portland and am in my first year of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University. Outside of school, I enjoy listening to podcasts, watching movies, taking film pictures, and hiking.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

As an undergraduate student, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, which sparked my...

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Led by Xiaoyue Cathy Liu of the University of Utah (UU) and funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, researchers have created a web-based modeling tool (see GitHub repository built for the Utah Transit Authority) that enables U.S. transit providers to explore the impacts of changing over their systems to electric buses*. The researchers ran the model for TriMet in Portland, OR as well, with TriMet results and analysis presented in the final report (PDF).

"The interactive visualization platform lets users explore various electric bus deployment budget scenarios, so that transit agencies can plan the most cost-effective way to transition their fleet from diesel to electric buses – while prioritizing disadvantaged populations," Liu said.

The research team, at University of Utah, Portland State University (PSU), and University of California, Riverside, set out to answer three questions: 

  1. What costs and benefits are associated...
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Rethinking Streets for Physical Distancing, the third in our "Rethinking Streets" book series, has been released. The book offers 25 case studies from a broad swath of U.S. cities with a handful of international examples of streets that were redesigned to better accommodate people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Rethinking Streets is a design guidebook series produced by NITC researchers at the University of Oregon, led by Marc Schlossberg. The three books are:

These full-color design guides have proven popular with planners and...

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Natasha Karan is a civil engineering graduate student. She received her B.S. in civil engineering from Oregon Institute of Technology in 2020. During her time at OIT, she has been involved in student clubs such as ASCE, ITE, and Tau Beta Pi. Currently she is pursuing her M.S. at Oregon Tech, working on a post-evaluation of implementing protected bicycle lanes. Natasha is interested in learning about the effects caused by the implementation of safe, inclusive active transportation infrastructure in a community.


Tell us about yourself?

I'm from Coos Bay, OR and I am attending Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls, OR in order to earn my bachelors and master's degree in civil engineering. Currently, I am on track to earn my masters degrees in 2021. Throughout my college years, I've gained a significant interest in the transportation field, especially through the classes that I have taken and the events that I have attended through the Institute of Transportation Engineers club.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

My career path in transportation was influenced by learning about and experiencing the state of the United States' current transportation system. The United States is one of the leading nations in the world however it lacks initiative in the transportation area, especially regarding public transportation....

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Rebecca Lewis and Richard Margerum, University of Oregon

Regional organizations use urban centers to incentivize local governments to align land use and transportation. An article in the December 2020 issue of Land Use Policy, by Rebecca Lewis and Richard Margerum of the University of Oregon, examines whether existing conditions and future plans for centers support regional goals.

The article draws on findings from their NITC project "Metropolitan Centers: Evaluating local implementation of regional plans and policies," with co-investigator Keith Bartholomew of the University of Utah.

Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in the United States have instituted regional strategies to encourage development around mixed use, higher density urban centers in response to air quality and...

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is proud to introduce a new dissertation fellow: Kelly Rodgers of Portland State University. Four other NITC dissertation fellows were announced in summer 2020. Our NITC Dissertation fellowships applications are accepted on a rolling basis. 

Kelly’s dissertation project will focus on "The use and influence of health indicators in transportation decision-making."

Research on health and transport has increased significantly in the past 20 years, both across health and transportation fields. Researchers and practitioners have called for the use of health indicators in transportation, which come amidst the growing emphasis on the use of indicators for transportation plans and projects in general. The underlying hope is that new procedural arrangements, such as measuring and tracking indicators, can turn policy goals into practice. This research project will explore the use and influence of health indicators in transportation using a mixed methods approach.

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Photo by AlbertPego/iStock

Lincoln Edwards is a masters student in urban planning at the University of Arizona, and a TRB Minority Student Fellow for 2021. He currently works as a research assistant in UA's College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture, on projects that relate to Equitable Transit Oriented Development (eTOD). In 2019 he was an intern for the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Lincoln earned a BA from Pennsylvania's Millersville University with a double major in Geography (with a concentration in global studies) and Government & Political Affairs. His future career goals center around issues related to transportation planning, gentrification, universal design, and community development.


Tell us about yourself?

I’m a second year Masters of Urban Planning student at the University of Arizona and a 2021 TRB Minority Student Fellow. I’m originally from Philly and received my B.A. in Geography at Millersville University in Lancaster, PA. Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to have a career in urban planning due to my passions towards urban restoration and community revitalization.

What (or who) has influenced your career path in transportation?

My upbringing as a wheelchair user allowed me to...

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The world's largest transportation research conference is celebrating its 100th birthday online, with over 14,000 RSVP's. TRB 2021 officially began this week, and while we're not out roaming the snowy streets of D.C, we’re still able to enjoy each other’s expertise from our homes. So instead of bemoaning what we'll miss, we’re celebrating the NITC-funded researchers who are presenting their work. On January 6, 2021 the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) honored NITC Student of the Year Gabby Abou-Zeid, along with Hau Hagedorn, NITC associate director, who won the CUTC-ARTBA Award for Administrative Leadership.




We’ve compiled an online NITC...

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The Outstanding Student of the Year award is presented during the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) banquet at each annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, where the U.S. Department of Transportation honors an outstanding graduate student from each UTC. Gabby will be presented with the award for NITC at the virtual CUTC award ceremony and banquet on January 6, 2021. See past NITC Students of the Year.

Another honoree at this year's CUTC banquet is Hau Hagedorn, our associate director, who will receive the CUTC-ARTBA Award for Administrative Leadership.

2020 NITC Outstanding Student of the Year: Gabby Abou-Zeid, Portland State University

Gabby Abou-Zeid holds a B.S. in Sustainable Built Environments from the University of Arizona and is currently a second-year Civil Engineering MSc student with transportation emphasis at PSU. Working in Dr. Kelly Clifton’s Sustainable Urban Planning and Engineering Research Lab (SUPERLab), her interdisciplinary research examines multimodal travel behavior, urban freight, and intersections between transportation and land use. In 2018, she participated in...

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