The 2016 Transportation and Communities Summit set off on a different path from previous summits and brought new energy into discussion of the future of transportation. Around 285 people attended the summit, held Sept. 8-9 at Portland State University, an increase from last year. 

First-time attendees made up a sizable percentage of conference-goers. Of those responding to a post-summit survey, more than 40 percent had never attended a summit before.

Responding to feedback from previous attendees, TREC organizers added a day of workshops before the main summit day. The workshops allowed attendees to dive deeper into specific transportation topics and interact with moderators and other participants to address real-world problems.

The lively poster session also served its goal of fostering conversations between practitioners, academics and students. Attendees consistently rate networking as one of the most valuable aspects of the summit, and the poster session—with more than twice the posters of previous summits—helped make those interactions more productive.

Topical breakout sessions form the backbone of the summit, showcasing the best thinking around issues from researchers and practitioners. Previous summits offered two breakout slots with four sessions each, meaning a single attendee could only attend a quarter of the sessions offered. The 2016 summit, by contrast, offered three breakout slots with...

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The success of TREC’s first summer program for high-school girls shows promise for the future transportation workforce. The National Summer Transportation Institute, held July 11-22, gave 22 girls classroom and hands-on instruction with transportation experts in various fields and sectors.  

While high school girls and boys enroll in higher science and math classes at the same rate, fewer girls persist in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math. That carries into the workforce, where women still hold a small percentage of transportation-related jobs. Fewer than a quarter of transportation supervisors, and under 14 percent of civil engineers are women, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Vanessa Garrison didn’t set out to build a health movement. Growing up in Seattle’s Central District, a historically black neighborhood, Garrison just wanted her household and her community to be healthy.

“It was a challenge for me to develop solutions that work for the women I love,” Garrison said.

Those solutions, however, did set off a movement: GirlTrek, a community-based walking movement that has reached 250,000 black women and girls across the country. Garrison co-founded GirlTrek and serves as its chief operating officer.

> Garrison will tell her story at the Ann Niles Active Transportation Lecture Oct. 19 at Portland State University. Reserve a space if you plan to attend.

“Seattle is one of the most active cities in the country, but my household was completely inactive,” Garrison said. “All the women in my family were really experiencing health challenges due to chronic disease.”

Those problems ran deeper than simply inactivity. Obesity and inactivity often have roots in concerns about safety and other community issues built on historical trauma and systemic racism. A fitness-only approach, Garrison reasoned, would fail to overcome these powerful forces.

With friend Morgan Dixon, who would become her GirlTrek co-...

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Oliver Smith, a former NITC dissertation fellow with a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from Portland State University, published research findings last month in the Journal of Transport and Health.

The study includes evidence that walking and biking have a significant positive effect on wellbeing, and suggests that bicycling to work may benefit mental as well as physical health.

Read the journal article here: Commute well-being differences by mode: Evidence from Portland, Oregon, USA

The article grew out of Smith’s dissertation, a NITC-funded research project on the connection between commute modes and happiness or well-being.

Visit the project page to learn more: Peak of the Day, or the Daily Slog?

Smith created a...

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For someone who refuses to make predictions, Brian David Johnson has a long list of examples of how the future he envisioned came true.

It’s his job, after all.

As a futurist, Johnson helps organizations imagine what they’ll be doing 10 years in the future and then models the steps they’ll need to achieve that vision.

Johnson will describe his work, and offer insights relevant to transportation professionals, as the keynote speaker at the Transportation and Communities Summit Sept. 9 at Portland State University.

Transportation figures heavily into both popular visions of the future and Johnson’s work—but not in the same way. “Cities and transportation and infrastructure are some of the most important parts of futurecasting”—Johnson’s name for this method of modeling—he said.

Although audiences raised on jet pack-based transportation science fiction don’t welcome this message, “the cities of the future are going to look like the cities of today,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the most unpopular things I tell people.”

But consider the alternative. “Culturally, we value the past, and our future will look a lot like that,” Johnson said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing. ‘The Jetsons’ is a sci-fi dystopia.”

Finding a future that looks like the present, or even the past, is a surprising theme in Johnson’s work, which has included consulting for firms such as Intel and trade...

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In the spring of 2015, with guidance provided by the NITC program, students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York created a pedestrian and bicycle plan for the City of Canandaigua, New York.

As part of their Sustainable Community Development capstone course, the students in environmental studies provided plans for a mixed use district along Route 332 in Canandaigua.

Course instructor Jim Ochterski credits PSU researcher Lynn Weigand’s NITC education project, Enhancing Bicycle and Pedestrian Education through Curriculum and Faculty Development, with providing essential resources for the course.

“Most of the students did not have any grounding in pedestrian planning and development, and [the NITC materials] made a huge difference,” Ochterski said.

Part of the mission of the NITC program is to enrich transportation education. One way our university partners do this is by developing curricula to advance transportation and livability goals in the classroom.

Weigand's project was intended for just this purpose. She created a module-based curriculum for bicycle and pedestrian planning and design that was designed to be adaptable for use in a variety of course offerings.

The HWS instructors took that curriculum and ran with it.

“We took on a major community project in ped/bike planning because we had these support materials from the program. It allowed us to...

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities program, or NITC, has selected its latest round of general research projects. The NITC executive committee chose to fund 11 out of 28 proposals submitted for funding.

Eligible resarchers from the program's five campuses (in this solicitation, Portland State Univeristy, University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and University of South Florida) submitted proposals representing $2.8 million in funding, far more than the $986,000 available. Funded proposals feature principal investigators from each NITC partner campus: four from Portland State, one from Oregon Tech and two each from University of Oregon, University of Utah and University of South Florida. Three projects involved collaboration between universities.

The selected projects are:

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Miranda Barrus and Danit Hubbell have had quite a year.

With support from the NITC program, after being awarded WTS Portland Chapter Scholarships last December, the two Oregon Tech students traveled to the annual WTS conference in Austin May 18–20.

“It is always encouraging to be in the presence of hundreds of women in the engineering industry when it is often seen as a male dominant field,” Barrus said. “While the entire conference was beneficial, the highlights for me were hearing the presentations by Lilly Ledbetter and her fair pay act, and by Jacy Good and Steve Johnson advocating against distracted driving. Both stories had an intense impact on me personally.” Barrus was also the 2016 recipient of the WTS CH2M Hill Partnership Scholarship and the 2014 recipient of the Sharon D. Banks Undergraduate Scholarship.

Last year, Barrus and Hubbell traveled to Chicago for the 2015 International WTS Conference, making this their second year to experience the annual gathering.

“I would say...

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TREC has a job opening for a Research and Education Program Administrator. This position is responsible for the day-to-day administrative research, education, and diversity programs.

Primary responsibilities include:

  • Project Administration. Tracking and reporting research, education, and diversity projects from inception to project close-out. Coordinating and requesting progress reports; entering and keeping up-to-date entries in the TRB Research in Progress (RIP) database; ensuring that data entered into the Proposal and Project Management System (PPMS) are current; sending out final report and overdue reminders; and finalizing final reports including coordinating peer reviews and collecting final project metrics.
  • Program Administration. Administering the competitive, peer-reviewed, project selection process including the annual Request for Proposal (RFP), pooled-fund, small starts, undergraduate research fund and dissertation fellowships. Tasks include coordinating peer reviews, coordinating executive committee meetings, creating and updating related forms, Principal Investigator Handbook, FAQs, and other related materials; assisting with awards and task orders; posting information to the website and updating online system to accept new proposals, and distributing information via email. Coordinate the selection of the student of the year selection, and maintain contact with the student groups from partner campuses.
  • Compiling...
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TREC is offering a free summer program for high school girls who are interested in transportation studies.

The Summer Transportation Institute will run from July 11–22, 2016.

It is part of a national initiative funded by the FHWA to address the need of a diverse workforce in the 21st century.

The two-week intensive summer day camp will consist of classroom instruction in the mornings and field tours in the afternoons.

Field tours will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the agencies and systems that operate in Portland, and the classroom sessions will provide an understanding of the tools that transportation professionals use to achieve community goals.

Students will gain the skills necessary to solve complex transportation problems and make real change in their communities, as well as a firsthand look at how the Portland transportation universe functions.

In addition, the course will have a focus on social justice, with an examination of how to increase transportation availability and service to traditionally underserved communities.

The course administrator, Sarah Dougher, is an American singer-songwriter, author, and teacher based in Portland, Oregon. TREC is fortunate to have her skills and experience focused on this one-of-a-kind program....

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