Red restaurant tables and chairs stand in the place of former curbside parking on a Seattle street
Photo by Dongho Chang, Seattle Traffic Engineer
Benjamin Clark and Anne Brown, University of Oregon

Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will challenge cities in ways that are difficult to fully predict, and yet critical...

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In 2015, 5th grade classes at Beaverton’s Chehalem Elementary and 5th and 6th graders at Tobias Elementary in Aloha took part in a NITC education project, Investigations in Transportation, co-sponsored by Portland State University, the Portland Metro STEM Partnership and the Oregon Department of Transportation. The students' work yielded functional changes which will likely be made to the parking lots at both schools, resulting in better traffic flow and increased capacity. The unit was designed to teach students real-world applications of core concepts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). After exploring several potential engineering challenges at their schools, both groups of students chose to work on the “Parking Lot Dilemma.” Read the full story below.


Two Oregon elementary schools recently had their parking lots redesigned by the students.

5th grade classes at Beaverton’s Chehalem Elementary and 5th and 6th graders at Tobias Elementary in Aloha took part in a NITC education project, Investigations in Transportation, co-sponsored by Portland State University, the Portland Metro STEM Partnership and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The students' work yielded functional changes which will likely be made to the parking lots at both schools, resulting in better...

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Bicycle commuters represent a significant chunk of business consumers in Portland, Ore., one of America's most bike-friendly cities. OTREC research in the past year has provided data on how cyclists and other mode users patronize local businesses.

The final OTREC research report is available on the project pageLead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University also presented her findings at the 2013 Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem.
The research found that bicycle consumers spend as much money, on average, as those who drive, and that local businesses can make an effort to attract this share of the market. The Plaid Pantry convenience store chain, a participant in the research, subsequently installed bike racks at 12 locations to make them more hospitable to cycling consumers, as first reported in a post on the Bike Portland blog.  
 
Efforts to promote active...
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Efforts to promote active transportation often come up against concerns, from business owners, that any shift away from automobile use will mean fewer customers or less revenue.
 
In fact, this research indicates that, for the most part, how much people spend has little to do with what transportation mode they use.
 
Lead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, in a recent project, "Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode Choices," does highlight some key differences between transportation modes. People arriving by bus, bike or on foot average more trips per month to convenience stores, supermarkets, drinking establishments and restaurants than do people arriving by car. They also spend more per month at all types of establishments except supermarkets, where the auto users’ greater spending per trip more than makes up for their fewer trips.
 
Clifton offered some preliminary...
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OTREC held the Oregon Transportation Summit Sept. 10 at Portland State University. The fourth annual summit featured a plenary session on the future of metropolitan planning organizations and workshops on topics ranging from car and bike sharing to the economics of transportation systems. Keynote speaker Eran Ben-Joseph of MIT's City Design and Development program discussed the design and culture of parking. Students presented OTREC-funded research at a poster exhibit.

Photos from the summit are below. Click here to view the full photo set on flickr.

Most presentations from the summit are also available for download here.

Some people go to great lengths searching for parking, but perhaps none more so than Eran Ben-Joseph. Ben-Joseph, head of the Joint Program in City Design and Development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had a different mission than most: find a well-designed lot to highlight in his site-planning course.

 “Students always ask, ‘Can you show us some good parking lots?’” Ben-Joseph said. “And it was mind-boggling how you just couldn’t find enough.”

Ben-Joseph’s search led to his latest book, “ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking.” Ben-Joseph details his exploration of parking Sept. 10 as the keynote speaker of the Oregon Transportation Summit.

Some parking lots are well vegetated or handle runoff well, Ben-Joseph said. But few stand up as well-planned, well-designed case studies. In part, he said, you get what you ask for. And communities haven’t held lots to comparable standards as buildings or roads.

“From a regulation standpoint, I found that in most cases, the code is very minimal,” Ben-Joseph said. “It might say, ‘You need one tree for every five cars, enter here, exit here,’ but not how to lay it out.”

Parking lots make an easy target, Ben-Joseph said. But he didn’t set out to attack them any more than to defend them.

“Parking is as much of a hot potato as politics is now....

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