Chris Monsere, an assistant professor in Portland State University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, received the "Engineering Education Advocate" award at the Oregon Transportation Safety Awards luncheon in Salem. The award was presented as part of the annual Oregon Transportation Safety Conference, sponsored by the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety and the Oregon Department of Transportation, or ODOT.

The award recognizes Monsere's teaching, research and service activities that have been geared toward improving the safety of Oregon's transportation system. Monsere has been the primary investigator on 11 OTREC projects, many of them related to safety. He's currently evaluating bike boxes designed to improve safety for cyclists. His other projects have focused on building a knowledge-based clearinghouse of safety-related data in Oregon and evaluating the effectiveness of ODOT's Safety Investment Program.

Students from OTREC programs gave the Oregon Transportation Commission their insights into the future of the transportation professions last week at a commission workshop in Bend. Students from Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University joined OTREC researcher Kate Hunter-Zaworski on a panel aimed at providing the commission direction on its role in the changing transportation environment.

Hunter-Zaworski's presentation, "Aging in Place," focused on challenges an aging population places on public transit and other transportation systems. She recommended strategies to help older adults transition to transit use.

Student panelists offered the following:

  • Joe Broach, a Ph.D. student in urban studies at Portland State, discussed the development of next-generation travel models in the Portland region, including the regional bike travel model and the DASH dynamic activity-based travel model.
  • Kristin Kelsey, a University of Oregon architecture graduate student, discussed her work on site design, specifically on suburban multifamily sites.
  • Mary Ann Triska, a civil engineering Ph.D. student at Oregon State, discussed the role of civil engineers as public servants and the importance of both design and rules for different travel modes on shared roadways.

Themes that emerged from the panel include the importance of considering smaller-scale transportation planning, how to safely share road space...

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Ten OTREC researchers, staff, and students participated in the Transportation Research Board and University Transportation Center Transportation Systems for Livable Communities Conference last week in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together researchers and practitioners from transportation, housing and public health.

Highlights of the conference included an insightful discussion on defining livability. Despite inconclusive debate on the definition, participants agreed that for the concept to be embraced it can neither be dictated nor prescribed.  Performance measures also were a recurring theme of the two-day conference. Concepts explored included: re-evaluating outdated measures such as volume-to-capacity ratio and level of service to better reflect different modes, shifting thinking from mobility to accessibility and proximity, and data standardization and measurement methodologies. To complete the livability picture, the multigenerational and socioeconomic considerations need to be included.

The following four OTREC research projects were highlighted during the conference poster session:

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Oregon State University student Lacy Brown's presentation won top honors at the Oregon Transportation Safety Conference, held Oct. 12 to 14 in Salem. Brown's presentation was titled "Assessment of Statewide Intersection Safety Performance," an Oregon Department of Transportation Resesarch-sponsored project.

Kristie Gladhill of Portland State University and Jon Mueller and Raul Avelar, both of Oregon State, also presented at the conference, which is put on by the Alliance for Community Traffic Safety Oregon.

Presentations lasted around 20 minutes and were judged on three criteria: process, product and presentation:

  • Process: The research project is rigorous, with good data and solid analysis.
  • Product: The student's findings will be valuable for the profession.
  • Presentation: The student communicated the information clearly and professionally.

OTREC provided each student with $200 for travel and will award Brown $350 for her winning presentation.

When engineers focus on transportation systems, they often produce brilliant solutions. Sometimes, however, they focus in the wrong place.

 “Engineers are really good; if you tell them, ‘This is what we want to accomplish,’ they’ll do it,” said Peter Jacobsen, himself an engineer and a public health consultant. “But traffic safety hasn’t had a good scientific, evidence-based approach that we have in, say, nuclear-power-plant design.”

Jacobsen, Portland State University’s first visiting scholar this school year, will present the Vision Zero concept at Friday’s transportation seminar. Vision Zero resets the goal of transportation systems from reducing total crashes to eliminating fatalities.

“The way engineers currently look at the road system is to look at crashes,” Jacobsen said. “Vision Zero folks say to look at health: not to have fatalities or permanent disabling injuries.”

Designing for health means respecting the limits of the human body. If crossing into oncoming traffic could produce head-on collisions with a greater force than people could survive, then Vision Zero says to separate that traffic. Roundabouts reduce the likelihood of dangerous side-impact collisions.

Vision Zero could have the largest effect closer to home. Jacobsen has pushed for colleagues to consider traffic from a child’s perspective. A residential street that might be perfectly...

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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.

On Monday, OTREC faculty and students met with transportation scholars and practitioners from China. Professor Haixiao Pan from Tongji University in Shanghai presented his research on transit-oriented development titled "From TOD to 5D in a Fast Growth City with High Density." His look at Chinese cities indicates that levels of walking and bicycling are key to reducing vehicle miles traveled, perhaps even more so than transit use.

Liyuan Gong, deputy director of the Jinan Public Transport Development Institute, and Wenhong Wang, department head of the Beijing Urban Engineering Design and Research Institute Co., gave overviews of bus rapid transit systems in several Chinese cities.

Professor Connie Ozawa, director of the School of Urban Studies and Planning, welcomed the group to Portland State University. OTREC Director Jennifer Dill presented her research on travel behavior of TOD residents and John Gliebe, OTREC researcher and urban studies assistant professor, presented on dynamic travel demand modeling. Arlie Adkins, an urban studies doctoral student, presented "Getting the Parking Right for Suburban TODs."

The forum gave students and faculty opportunities to exchange ideas about integrating transportation and land use in China and the United States. In both countries, some transit-oriented developments have fallen short of transit-use goals for similar reasons, such as convenience and time. Reliability of transit service often plays a greater role...

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A daylong conference Thursday in Salem focused on the ties between transportation and affordable housing. While not sponsored by OTREC, the conference dovetails with an OTREC theme, the intersection of land use and transportation.

Called "The Road Home: The Intersection of Transportation and Affordable Housing," the conference was sponsored by Housing Land Advocates, AARP and the Willamette University College of Law. Speakers tackled topics including transit-oriented development, land-use and transportation policies that spur the development of affordable housing, transportation agencies' civil rights obligations and climate change.

Although much of the discussion revolved around metro areas, one panel also addressed rural concerns. Sometimes simple solutions for small-town problems get overlooked, said panelist Travis Brouwer, senior federal affairs advisor with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Improving a local trail system can allow town residents to run errands without needing a personal vehicle, Brouwer said. Adding at least occasional bus service to the nearest large town can help residents go car-free, said Mary Kyle McCurdy, staff attorney for advocacy group 1000 Friends of Oregon.

The conference follows the...

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With the Oct. 1 new year comes a new slate of OTREC-funded projects. This year, we support 24 projects, worth $2.2 million -- the most in our history.

That total includes 20 research projects, three education projects and one technology transfer project. A few highlights:

  • Economic Benefits of Cycling (Kelly Clifton, Portland State): Unlike previous isolated studies that have focused on recreational cycling, Clifton's project seeks to gauge the total economic benefit to business owners from cycling and investments in bicycle infrastructure.
  • Durability Assessment of Recycled Concrete Aggregates (Jason Ideker, Oregon State): The use of recycled concrete in new concrete has been slowed by a lack of evidence on its durability. Phase II of this project will address that gap and recommend best practices for use of recycled concrete.
  • Livability Performance Metrics for Transit (Marc Schlossberg, University of Oregon): This multi-campus, multi-discipline project examines the performance of transit agencies at the regional and neighborhood levels in meeting livability goals.
  • Influence of Road Cross Section on Access Spacing (Karen Dixon...
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Kelly Clifton and Jennifer Dill, both OTREC researchers at Portland State University, are on the organizing committee for the World Symposium on Transport & Land Use Research. The inaugural symposium will run July 28 to 30, 2011 in Whistler, British Columbia. Research papers are being accepted now.

The symposium is projected to meet every three years, following in the footsteps of the Access to Destinations conferences held in 2004 and 2007. It wil bring together academics and practitioners focused on the ties between economics, planning and engineering in the transportation and land-use fields 

Interdisciplinary research papers on topics that address the interaction of transport and land use will be accepted for consideration until Dec. 31. Welcome domains include: engineering, planning, modeling, behavior, economics, geography, regional science, sociology, architecture and design, network science, and complex systems.

Papers will be categorized and ranked by peer reviewers. Theoretical, empirical, case-study, and policy-oriented contributions are welcome. All papers will be considered for publication in the Journal of Transportation and Land Use.

See the...

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