An OTREC project recently took an in-depth look at the travel-time and health-related effects of a new implementation of a state of the art adaptive traffic system.

Southeast Powell Boulevard is a multimodal urban corridor connecting highway US-26 through Portland, Oregon. The corridor is highly congested during morning and evening peak traffic hours. In October 2011, an adaptive traffic system called SCATS was deployed.

The primary function of SCATS, or Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, is to mitigate traffic congestion. Using sensors (usually inductive loops) at each traffic signal, the system tries to find the best cycle time and phasing along the corridor as traffic demand patterns change.

In this integrated multimodal study, OTREC researchers looked at the corridor’s traffic speed and transit reliability, before and after the implementation of SCATS. In addition, a novel contribution of this study was to study the link between signal timing and air quality.

To determine the impact of SCATS on traffic and transit performance, researchers established and measured performance measures before and after SCATS. The researchers used data provided by TriMet, Portland's transit authority, to compare transit times before and after SCATS as well as traffic volume data from two Wavetronix units that were installed by the City of Portland; these units collect traffic counts, speeds and classifications. For the air quality study, TriMet also...

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The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) opened the Ann Niles Transportation Lecture series Monday, August 26 with a talk by Jean-Francois Pronovost, the vice president for development and public affairs at advocacy group Vélo Québec. The Ann Niles lecture series serves as a legacy to Ann Niles, who was a strong advocate for livable neighborhoods and served on many boards and committees related to transportation in Portland. OTREC and IBPI are proud to be part of an ongoing collaborative effort to make Portland a more livable city.
 
Pronovost was preceded at Monday's lecture by OTREC director Jennifer Dill, who opened the talk with remarks about Niles' spirit of advocacy and passion, and the opportunity that Portlanders have to change their city for the better. Jean-Francois Pronovost has been instrumental in building the world’s longest bicycle greenway, the Route Verte, which runs 3,100 miles through the province of Quebec. He described the process of building partnerships with nonprofits, local businesses and community groups in order to make the greenway a reality. Pronovosts's enthusiasm for bicycling was infectious; his presentation included highlights from Vélo Québec's annual rides, including a kids-only ride with no parents allowed, as well as photos from a...
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John MacArthur, OTREC’s Sustainable Transportation Program Manager, was a panel moderator at this year's EVRoadmap 6 workshop.

The EV Roadmap workshop series has established itself as the Pacific Northwest’s premier electric vehicle gathering, with a goal of increasing the visibility and understanding of electric vehicles.

Co-sponsored by Portland General Electric and Portland State University, the event supports the shared goal of building a stronger, more sustainable transportation landscape.

The sixth annual EV Roadmap workshop, "Drivers Take the Spotlight," was a continuation of this fruitful partnership. The event was held at the World Trade Center in Portland on July 30-31, 2013. MacArthur moderated a panel titled "Not All Drivers Need Four Wheels." This panel focused on odd-sized electric vehicles such as e-bikes.

E-bikes are a specialty of MacArthur's; he has conducted several research studies about people's use and perceptions of the electric-assisted bicycle. His project "Evaluation of Electric Bike Use in Portland Metro Region" (click here for more information about that project, or to download the final report) focused on exploring the potential new market segments for e-bikes and the economic, operational, safety, and transportation issues surrounding...

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IBPI, or the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, is a center for research and learning that is focused on bicycle and pedestrian travel.

Based at Portland State University, the group's aim is to advance bicycling and walking as integral elements of the transportation system in Oregon’s communities. July 24 -26 IBPI hosted a faculty workshop to help transportation professors integrate bicycle and pedestrian topics into their courses.

Aimed at faculty members teaching transportation courses within an accredited planning or engineering program at the university level, the workshop included curriculum, guidebooks, and field trips to gain first-hand knowledge of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Portland, Oregon.

It was kept small, to allow for discussion and interaction. The workshop's 15 participants were first given the chance to describe the existing gaps in their courses and what they hoped to gain from the workshop, then guided through a two-day series of activities tailor-made to fit their needs.

Their goals ranged from specific to general, requesting ways to incorporate GIS analysis into bicycle and pedestrian courses, suggestions for how to integrate active travel performance measures with typical vehicular performance measures, and generally a deeper understanding of bicycle research.

Robert Bertini (Portland State University...

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OTREC was well-represented at this year’s Western ITE conference, the 2013 conference for the Western District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. Eight graduate student researchers presented papers at the conference, which took place July 14 through 17 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Portland State University students Katherine Bell, Kirk Paulsen, Adam Moore, Wei Feng, Sirisha Kothuri, Pamela Johnson, Sam Thompson and Alex Bigazzi attended the three-day conference and showcased their work in transportation research.

The conference was held at the Arizona Biltmore, a 1920’s luxury hotel created by architects Albert Chase McArthur and Frank Lloyd Wright. For the engineering and planning students, the Biltmore held its own attraction as an example of unique architecture, and in between events they enjoyed walking the grounds. 

Katherine Bell, a Master’s student whose research interests include planning, modeling and performance measures for freight, gave a presentation on the use of a smart phone application with a GPS device for freight data collection. This was her second time presenting at the...

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OTREC researchers Jennifer DillChris Monsere and Nathan McNeil of Portland State University recently received an honor from AASHTO.
 
AASHTO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, works with a committee whose role it is to proactively promote quality and excellence in research.
 
Each year at its annual meeting, AASHTO's Research Advisory Committee (RAC) selects four projects from each of its four regions to form a "Sweet Sixteen" group of high value research projects.
 
At this year’s RAC meeting, which took place July 15 through the 18, a project by Dill, Monsere and McNeil made the Sweet Sixteen.
 
The project, “District Department of Transportation Bicycle Facility Evaluation,” was funded by DDOT (the District of Columbia’s transportation department) in an effort to improve the city’s bicycling infrastructure.
 
The project's investigators took a look at innovative bicycle facilities installed at three locations in Northwest D.C. which were designed to provide increased safety, comfort, and convenience for cyclists. The first was a complex intersection, New Hampshire Avenue...
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The 2013 Oregon Transportation Summit will take place this fall, on September 16 at Portland State University. The summit brings together transportation professionals to shape the agenda for future research, and this year's plenary speaker addresses new federal legislation which will have a direct affect on that agenda.

Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution will deliver the remarks at the summit's morning plenary session. The topic is MAP-21, a new act which was passed by Congress in 2012. Short for "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century," the act redistributes the scope and responsibilities of transportation departments at all levels, from municipal to federal.

"What MAP-21 essentially did is, it enhanced the evolution that's available within the federal program," Tomer said. "Because it is an overarching policy, it touches on every actor in the system in a unique way." For example, "MPOs (Metropolitan Planning Organizations) are now tasked with collecting performance measurements ... and state offices are pushed to do a little more planning when it comes to freight."

In general under the new law, "states have more authority to spend federal money in the ways they want than before," Tomer said. 
This flexibility at the state level is the answer Tomer would give to those who worry that the new act will cut funding for bikes and walking. Although there is less funding designated for bicycling and...
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Portland, Oregon is known for being a bike city, even called America's Best Bike City by Bicycling Magazine, so it's no surprise at all that Portland State University is full of bike enthusiasts.

Nowhere was that more clearly demonstrated than in Seattle last week, when 14 students and faculty from Portland State turned up to present their research at the International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium.
 
The Symposium, held on June 19-22 at the University of Washington, explored ways to plan cities around biking. There were international plenary panelists from China, The Netherlands, and New Zealand to offer a look at urban cycling around the world, and a mixture of research into bike-related planning efforts in the United States. 
 
Portland State was there in full force. Faculty researchers Jennifer Dill and John MacArthur presented research on the use of e-bikes in the United States, and what this could mean for the bicycle mode share.
 
PSU professor Miguel Figliozzi outlined ways of modeling the effects of weather on cycling ridership; a particularly relevant factor in the rainy Pacific Northwest....
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Sirisha Kothuri, an OTREC scholar for the past two years and a current Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University, has been awarded one of NITC'S 2013 dissertation fellowships.

The $15,000 fellowship -- funded through an ISS (Institute for Sustainable Solutions) grant -- along with an $800 OTREC/NITC scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year, will assist Kothuri with her research into pedestrian signal timing.

Sirisha was born and raised in Hyderabad, India, and still misses the heat — or at least, the warmth; she has yet to become completely acclimated to Portland, Ore weather. In Hyderabad she obtained a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Osmania University in 1999. She moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1999 to get a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at Louisiana State University.

A visit to Illinois for her brother's graduation opened her eyes to the automobile-centric cities that make up much of the United States. She was surprised at some of the infrastructure in the Midwest, which decidedly favors cars over pedestrian and other means of active transport.

Walking plays a significant role in the development of healthy,...

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OTREC at Portland State University is pleased to announce the 2013 OTREC/NITC scholars.

Each year, OTREC and NITC recognize outstanding students, awarding them scholarships to further their work on transportation projects.

This year's scholarship winners tackle a range of projects, including long-range visions on how to improve equity in transportation, plans for proposed facility upgrades at specific locations, investigations into new ways to strengthen pavement, and the development of advanced technologies to assist the flow of transportation in the real world.

 
Arlie Adkins, a Ph.D. student at Portland State University (PSU), is surveying recent movers to learn that people of low-income households often find it harder to live in areas that are friendly to active transportation: many of the "walkable" neighborhoods are now premium real estate, so accessibility becomes inaccessible.
 
Dustin Hirata and Kyler Weisenback, seniors in the Computer Engineering Technology Department at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), are developing a software application for the collection of intersection turning movement counts for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Their application will be deployed on...
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