Active Transportation, Neighborhood Planning and Participatory GIS

Marc Schlossberg, University of Oregon


This multi year project is aimed at developing, implementing, and evaluating new community-based walkability tools.  The project will be conducted in conjunction with the National Center for Biking & Walking (NCBW), which works with communities across the country interested in assessing and improving their local neighborhood walkability conditions.  This proposed project is designed to utilize new mobile GIS technology in the development of tools that communities themselves can use to assess, map, analyze, and deliberate within their efforts to improve local walking conditions.  

These goals will be achieved through the development, testing, evaluation, and transferring of GIS and PDA-based tools focusing on measuring and mapping the pedestrian environment..  The tools will be developed in a way that maximizes public involvement by local municipalities, school districts, transit agencies, and citizen groups while minimizing the training needs of a general, non-GIS using public.  With the data, communities can conduct self assessments of local scale walkability, identify specific geographic areas of unsafe conditions, prioritize areas of greatest need, engage with local transportation officials more productively, and be better prepared to leverage enhancement funds.

The purpose of the tools is twofold: 1) to collect relevant information about the walking environment that can lead to greater safety and an increase in pedestrian utilization; and 2) to catalyze community involvement that can urge public involvement and sustain other efforts to encourage greater walking.

There are four primary components of this two year OTREC proposal: 1) refine an existing walkability audit tool for Safe Routes to School; 2) develop additional walkability PDA and GIS based audit tools focusing on ADA standards, Complete Streets, and walking environments around transit stops; 3) test each of these tools in communities throughout the country interested in addressing walkability at the local scale; and 4) to conduct an evaluation of the utilization of these tools in the various communities.
Once the tools are developed in the research lab, they will be field tested within a community setting. Preliminary tests of the Safe Routes to School tool have been conducted in Madison, WI, St. Paul, MN, and Eugene, OR.  Results from these pilot tests have been very encouraging with interest being generated for school district-wide application in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Washington, and Georgia.  Testing of the other tools will follow a similar iterative process of development, testing, and refinement.  Once the tools are in a completed form, there will be a process of technology transfer to put these tools in the hands of localities across the country.

This project will be done in collaboration with the National Center for Biking & Walking (NCBW), a national nonprofit organization working with communities across the country to support efforts of pedestrian infrastructure improvement and increases in the numbers of pedestrian trips. Their national scope and influence in the areas of walking and biking brings this work to a national audience, which further enhances Oregon's reputation as a leader in the area of livable and healthy communities. Within Oregon, this project will also support the efforts of the proposed Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, which is a joint effort between PSU, OSU, and the UO to position Oregon as the national leader in bicycle and pedestrian research and education.

This project supports all three OTREC themes: Advanced Technology, Integration of Land Use and Transportation, and Healthy Communities.  This work also links Applied Research, Service learning, and Technology Transfer elements. Support for this work can be found in various components of the SAFETEA-LU Safe Routes to School Program, the Department Of Transportation Strategic Plan (2003 - 2008), the U.S. Department of Transportation Research, Development, and Technology Plan (6th Edition), and in Highway Research And Technology: The Need for Greater Investment.

Project Details

Project Type:
Technology Transfer
Project Status:
End Date:
May 31,2008
UTC Grant Cycle:
OTREC 2007
UTC Funding: