We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Free Movement: Enhancing Open Data To Facilitate Independent Travel For Persons With Disabilities," by Shiloh Deitz of the University of Oregon.

"In this project, I found that across the United States there is a lack of both data for accessible pedestrian routing and tools for filling in those data. AI methods have contributed to filling in missing data for applications like autonomous vehicles but much less often to intervene in quality of life improvements. Critical geoAI, that is, bringing a critical geographic lens to artificial intelligence applications, has the potential to contribute to the amelioration of these data and analytic gaps," Deitz said.

Nearly 40 million Americans report a disability, and of this population, 70 percent travel less because of the challenges they face. When they do travel, those with limited mobility are more likely to be pedestrians or public transit users. Today, free commercial routing applications such as Google Maps offer a robust suite of tools for the able-bodied public to walk, ride bikes, take public transportation, or hail a taxi. Yet, such tools for persons with limited mobility to determine a safe and perhaps even pleasant urban route are experimental, limited, and only available in select cities (e.g....

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Bus riders board a bus at a stop with a shelter, sign, and benches.
Photo by Ja Young Kim
Keith Bartholomew, University of Utah; Arlie Adkins, University of Arizona, Tucson

 A bus stop can be anything from a simple signpost stuck in the grass, to a comfortable shelter with seating and paved access to the sidewalk. For many U.S. transit agencies across the country, improving facilities at bus stops is a priority. But how much do these improvements actually affect ridership? A lot, it turns out. A new NITC study, co-funded by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) and led by Keith Bartholomew...

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An unpaved trail on grass with a yellow flower nearby
Photo by Matthew Sleep
Matthew Sleep, Oregon Institute of Technology

Approximately 7,700 years ago—in a cataclysmic event which the Klamath people retold and passed down for over 300 generations—Mount Mazama erupted, forming Crater Lake in Oregon. With molten rock reaching temperatures of up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, complex chemical reactions ensued. The resulting Mazama ash holds some properties that are similar to those in portland cement.

Today, most construction projects use portland cement, which takes an excessive amount of energy to create. Materials are mined from several different sources and transported, then...

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A man with sunglasses and a cane carries a smartphone in his hand, appearing to be listening to its audio
Photo by diego_cervo
Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker, Portland State University

It's 2019, and with the explosion of mobile technology that has affected all other areas of life, it would seem to be a golden age for people living with visual impairments. Like never before in history, blind, deaf-blind, and low-vision individuals can access a plethora of mobile apps offering a range of services to aid in navigation and wayfinding. But the words "explosion" and "plethora" hint at an underlying problem: there are so many different apps, each one addressing only a segment of their mobility...

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An older couple jogs through a park
Photo Credit: Tomwang112
Ivis Garcia Zambrana, University of Utah; Alan DeLaTorre, Portland State University

Research on older adults frequently explores the notion of “aging in place”—providing older adults the opportunity to continue to live in their own homes and communities. However one’s ability to stay or leave, particularly in old age, often depends on the built environment. An accessible neighborhood that prioritizes mobility affords the ability to meet basic needs like goods, services, and social activities.

This life-space mobility is...

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The final report on this research is available now: Design for an Aging Population

Published in April 2017, this study sought to increase understanding of the obstacles faced by people with impairments in vision, hearing and/or mobility, which are common issues for older people, and generate physical product solutions.

The research shows that aging riders face conceptual, physical and social barriers that impact their willingness to use buses. Using the bus was seen as inconvenient, time consuming, physically draining and potentially frustrating. Priority seating areas designated for older and disabled users fill quickly. People with mobility challenges may use bulky walkers and require the availability of grab bars, and users of wheeled mobility devices need different device security. Several situations noted in the study show that physically challenged riders are subject to awkward, uncomfortable social dynamics more than other bus users. Innovation in easy access seats and secure WhMD stations at the front of the bus are critical for older users, as it makes riding the bus less draining and more safe.

This research was presented at TRB's 2017 annual meeting. See below for our coverage of the research at TRB.


Seniors make up a large...

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PRESENTATION ARCHIVE

Small towns and cities outside of national parks and other major natural amenities throughout the western United States are becoming increasingly popular places to visit and live. As a result, many of these gateway and natural amenity region (GNAR) communities—including places such as Jackson, Wyoming, and Moab, Utah—are facing a variety of “big city” issues, such as severe congestion, lack of affordable workforce housing, and concerns about sprawl and density. This webinar will introduce the planning and transportation concerns being experienced by GNAR communities throughout the west. It will then share the tools and resources developed by the University of Utah to train planners to work in these unique communities and to help these communities enhance livability and sustainable transportation options. The webinar will also introduce the University of Utah’s new Gateway and Natural Amenity Region Initiative and ongoing research aimed at better...

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