Expanding Pedestrian Modeling Tools Beyond the Portland Region

Principal Investigator: Kelly Clifton, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The latest NITC report offers improved tools for pedestrian modeling.

Led by Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, researchers had previously created the the MoPeD pedestrian demand model as well as a pedestrian index of the environment (PIE) for forecasting pedestrian travel. The PIE index improved the sensitivity of walk trip models by incorporating contextual features of the built environment that affect walking behavior in the Portland, Oregon region. Read about Clifton's previous body of work on context-specific modeling.

Useful for academic researchers in transportation, Clifton's research provides a framework for incorporating pedestrian travel behavior forecasts into traditional four-step travel demand models.

Since the method was based on Portland, the next step was to adapt the tools for wider use. In this new report, Clifton and Jaime Orrego-Onate of Portland State University, Patrick Singleton of Utah State University and Robert Schneider of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee worked on making those measures, models and methods more transferable to other locations.

Researchers tested the walkability measure in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle to see if "PIE" estimated from one region could be applicable in another.


The results of this project showed:

  • Population density and pedestrian connectivity had the strongest and most consistent relationship to walk mode choice across all of the regions tested. Other components of the built environment (such as road network density and transit access) had more variability in their ability to explain walk mode choice.

  • Employment density and its retail and service access were found to have less explanatory power and stability across the cities tested.

  • The interregional comparisons of PIE and walk mode share between Los Angeles and Portland showed promise for the use of the index in different regions.

Based upon these findings, the final report provides several guidelines for context-sensitive pedestrian modeling and the construction of a "walkability index" for other regions.

This research was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, with additional support from Portland State University and the City of Tigard, Oregon.

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), one of five U.S. Department of Transportation national university transportation centers, is a program of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University. The NITC program is a Portland State-led partnership with the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and new partners University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington. We pursue our theme — improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities — through research, education and technology transfer.

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