Feb 02, 2012

The Transportation Research Board's annual meeting lets OTREC resesarchers share their work with the rest of the country, network and learn from research conducted elsewhere. OTREC faculty, staff and students, with their ubiquitous yellow lanyards, hit Washington, D.C. for research presentations, poster sessions and committee meetings Jan. 21 to 26.

Jan 26, 2012

When people talk about Portland, they talk about weather and bicycling. Judging by the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., researchers are looking into the same two things.

Bikes, of course, draw more interest at a transportation conference than in other circles. Here, Portland continues to draw attention: A single day’s poster session featured no less than seven papers that use Portland as a bicycle research laboratory.

The examination of bicycling and weather drew research looks from around the continent. A paper with authors from OTREC and the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University, Australia, looked at how well different factors, including weather, affect bicycling in Portland, Ore., and Brisbane, Australia.

Light rain, for example, had little effect on bicycling in Portland, said Portland State University’s Miguel Figliozzi, one of the paper’s authors. The drop in ridership was four times as great in Brisbane on drizzly days.

“We’re used to light rain, so the difference is very small in Portland,” Figliozzi said. “In Australia, maybe they are not used to that.”

Geoffrey Rose of Monash University, another author on the paper, said the paper could help transportation decision makers understand and respond to effects of weather on active transportation, particularly as they deal with climate change. “This helps to understand the effects (of weather) on cycling today and what we can do to perhaps...

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Jan 24, 2012

Planners looking to develop an dense mix of urban land uses often face a dilemma: they’re using trip-generation models that undercount the very trips on bicycle and foot that the planners encourage while paving the way for more driving.

Portland State University Associate Professor Kelly Clifton dove into the topic Monday, presenting a paper at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington D.C. Kristina Currans of PSU, April Cutter of Metro, and Robert Schneider of the University of California Berkeley are coauthors.

Clifton and other panelists agreed that the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ trip generation rates don’t adequately reflect actual trips in an urban area with multiple land uses and transportation modes. They differed on the remedy, however.

Presenting another paper, Associate Professor Kevan Shafizadeh of California State University Sacramento, evaluated and tested several complex methods, finding that none truly suits smart-growth development projects. However, Shafizadeh and his team found that every method tested does a better job at predicting the number of trips generated than the ITE rates.

We need to predict trips better, Clifton said, but perhaps a simpler solution exists. She acknowledged Shafizadeh’s conclusions that each alternative also had deficiencies in certain applications, and suggested that the ITE rates could be tweaked instead of scrapped entirely.

“It’s a Band-Aid to temporarily adjust...

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Jan 20, 2012

Students and faculty researchers from OTREC universities will present 45 papers at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting Jan. 22 to 26 in Washington, D.C.

The papers, to be presented at 37 separate sessions and poster sessions, stem from transportation research at Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The three universities will send 43 students to the conference.

Alex Bigazzi, a PSU engineering doctoral student, will present his work on topics including congestion and emissions at the conference. Some of that work stems from his master’s thesis, “Roadway Congestion Impacts on Emissions, Air Quality, and Exposure,” with adviser Miguel Figliozzi at PSU. The thesis won this year’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, which will be presented Jan. 21 at the Council of University Transportation Centers awards banquet.

Bigazzi will present another paper, which he wrote with PSU’s Kelly Clifton and Brian Gregor of the Oregon Department of Transportation, that looks at fuel economy for alternative-fuel vehicles in congestion. Titled “Advanced Vehicle Fuel-Speed Curves for Regional Greenhouse Gas Scenario Analysis,” the paper helps Oregon DOT incorporate hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles into its emissions planning model.

While traditional vehicles lose fuel efficiency during congested driving, advanced vehicles don’t suffer from the same effects, according to the paper.  Some even do better in...

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May 19, 2011

Even as complex visual representations of data become common, many people still don’t understand what land-use and transportation modelers do. In April, state and local planning directors met to address that and other issues they’ll increasingly face in the coming years. The Oregon Modeling Collaborative convened the Oregon Transportation Policy Forum for guidance in developing the tools agencies will need and to keep agencies talking about transportation issues.

Giving a complex topic such as global warming the video game treatment could make it easier to grasp, said Angus Duncan of the Oregon Global Warming Commission. “I have yearned for something that’s the greenhouse gas equivalent of a ‘Sim City,’ “ Duncan said at the forum. “Something simple enough that kids can play with it, but something you can use for communication.”

Developers have gotten much better at representing data, said Tom Schwetz, director of development services for Lane Transit District, but leaps in handheld devices such as iPhones have raised expectations still higher. Transportation models are getting more complex and, at the same time, people are demanding their information quicker and quicker.

Modelers struggle, Schwetz said, both because people don’t understand the complexity of the models and because modelers themselves don’t explain themselves clearly. The models then become easier to attack than to defend. “There is a credibility issue,” he said. “It’s too easy to...

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Dec 09, 2010

Bridging the gap between engineers and planners starts with asking the right questions, Portland State University associate professor Kelly Clifton told University of Oregon planning students. But it can’t stop there.

In Eugene Nov. 18 for the LiveMove student group’s Movers and Shakers Speaker Series, Clifton stressed the importance of student planners and engineers educating themselves in both disciplines. Doing so gives planners technical skills and engineers understanding of the broader implications of transportation systems.

Engineers are problem solvers, Clifton said. Asked to move as many vehicles as possible through an area, they’ll figure out a solution. But the question should be reframed: What’s the best way for people, not just vehicles, to get around? That includes walking, cycling and transit.

Planners don’t need to become engineers themselves, Clifton said, but they’ll get farther by understanding how engineers bring transportation planning concepts to life. “Don’t be afraid of math,” she said.

Nov 10, 2010

Good transportation decisions rely on good models. Yet, despite advances in transportation modeling, there had been no dedicated training ground for the next generation of modelers. That all changed with the launch of the Oregon Modeling Collaborative Nov. 12. The collaborative will serve as a living laboratory to put the research from some of America’s top modelers into practice across Oregon.

On Nov. 12, we welcomed Peter Appel, administrator of the federal Research and Innovative Technology Administration, to Portland to kick off the collaborative with researchers, practitioners and policymakers from across the Northwest. Appel, confirmed by the U.S. Senate as administrator in 2009, has worked on U.S. Department of Transportation initiatives aimed at getting researchers and professionals to address safety, efficiency and environmental sustainability across all forms of transportation.

Groundbreaking research at the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium has already produced models to account for bicycle trips and greenhouse gas emissions and to predict earthquake risk to highway bridges. However, models don’t do any good if agencies can’t afford the staff time and resources to use them. The Oregon Modeling Collaborative helps fill this gap by educating the next generation of...

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Oct 05, 2010

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, Oregon State): This project seeks to understand how the spacing of...
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Oct 05, 2010

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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