When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across North America and led to emergency shutdowns during the spring of 2020, the way people acquired food and household necessities was dramatically impacted. As stay-at-home orders minimized personal travel, transit services were reduced and many stores and restaurants either closed or modified their operations. 

Some of the gaps were filled by online retailers and delivery services. However, access to goods and services varied substantially depending on people's age, income level, and ability.

A new multi-university study funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the U.S. DOT-funded university transportation headquartered at Portland State University, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) captured how households responded as local, state, and federal governments imposed and lifted restrictions, brick-and-mortar establishments closed and reopened, and e-commerce and delivery services adjusted to the changing conditions.

The findings of this research are critical for emergency planning, but also for understanding the ever-changing mechanisms used to access retail and service opportunities (whether in person or online). The research identifies opportunities for future interventions to remedy barriers to accessing food, which will...

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Alex Bigazzi, a 2014 NITC dissertation fellow and graduate of Portland State University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program, has published a paper based on his NITC-funded research in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

See ACS coverage of the project here.

Bigazzi's research evaluates the concentration of air pollution encountered by cyclists in Portland, Oregon.

In the study, volunteer research subjects rode bicycles equipped with instruments to collect high-resolution bicycle, rider, traffic and environmental data.

Participants rode a variety of routes including bicycle lanes on primary and secondary arterials, bicycle boulevards, off-street paths and mixed-use roadways. They were told to ride at a pace and exertion level typical for utilitarian travel, and breath biomarkers were used to record the amount of traffic-related pollution present in each cyclist’s exhalations. 

This research was the focus of Bigazzi's dissertation, Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System, published by NITC in December 2014. It was related to an earlier project...

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Despite the many connections between transportation and public health, many agencies tasked with long-range transportation planning have yet to completely consider effects on health, a Portland State University research team found. The research will be presented at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. Jan. 11-15.

Patrick Singleton, a Portland State graduate student researcher, will present the paper “Incorporating public health in U.S. long-range metropolitan transportation planning: A review of guidance statements and performance measures,” during a poster session Tuesday. The paper grew out of concepts developed in a Portland State course on transportation and health taught by Prof. Kelly Clifton, who is a coauthor on the paper.

Individually, transportation and public health each have a wealth of research. That research doesn’t always cross over, Singleton said.

“The integration of these disciplines is in its infancy,” he said.

If transportation planning agencies were to fully consider transportation and health connections, those considerations would show up in their long-term plans, the research team reasoned. Performance measures would point to the potential effects of a health focus.

The researchers focused...

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Summary: Researchers from the transportation, planning and health fields share the common goal of promoting physically active lifestyle. One challenge that researchers often face is the measurement of physical activity, particularly among children. This is because the sporadic nature of children’s physical activity patterns makes it difficult to recall and quantify such activities. Additionally, children’s lower cognitive functioning compared to adults prevents them from accurately recalling their activities. This presentation will describe the design and application of a novel self-report instrument - the Graphs for Recalling Activity Time (GReAT) - for measuring children’s activity time use patterns. The instrument was applied in a study of children’s risk for obesity and diabetes in a predominately Hispanic community in Milwaukee, WI. Time-use data for two weekdays and one weekend day were collected for various physical and sedentary activities. The data was then assessed against measurements of the children’s cardiovascular fitness, weight status and insulin resistance through exploratory analysis and structured equation modeling. Findings on GReAT’s reliability and new evidence on the impacts of time-use in...

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Summary: Since about 2008, the planning world has been experiencing a paradigm shift that began in places like California and Oregon that have adopted legislation requiring the linking of land use and transportation plans to outcomes, specifically to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In response to this need, Calthorpe Associates has developed a new planning tool, called UrbanFootprint, on a fully Open Source platform (i.e. Ubuntu Linux, PostGIS, PostGreSQL, etc.). As a powerful and dynamic web and mobile-enabled geo-spatial scenario creation and modeling tool with full co-benefits analysis capacity, UrbanFootprint has great utility for urban planning and research at multiple scales, from general plans, to project assessments, to regional and state-wide scenario development and analysis. Scenario outcomes measurement modules include: a powerful ‘sketch’ transportation model that produces travel and emissions impacts; a public health analysis engine that measures land use impacts on respiratory disease, obesity, and related impacts and costs; climate-sensitive building energy and water modeling; fiscal impacts analysis; and greenhouse gas and other emissions modeling.

Bio: Garlynn Woodsong is a Project Manager in the regional and large-scale master planning team at Calthorpe...

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Summary: Urban bicyclists’ uptake of traffic-related air pollution is still not well quantified, due to a lack of direct measurements of uptake and a lack of analysis of the variation in uptake. This paper describes and establishes the feasibility of a novel method for measuring bicyclists’ uptake of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by sampling breath concentrations. Early results from the data set demonstrate the ability of the proposed method to generate findings for transportation analysis, with statistically significant exposure and uptake differences from bicycling on arterial versus bikeway facilities for several traffic-related VOC. These results provide the first empirical evidence that the usage of bikeways (or greenways) by bicyclists within an urban environment can significantly reduce uptake of dangerous traffic-related gas pollutants. Dynamic concentration and respiration data reveal unfavorable correlations from a health impacts perspective, where bicyclists’ respiration and travel time are greater at higher-concentration locations on already high-concentration roadways (arterials).

Bio: Alex Bigazzi is a Ph.D. candidate in Transportation Engineering at PSU, where he is also teaching a class on transportation emissions modeling. His dissertation investigates how urban bicyclists...

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Summary: Dr. Lovell will talk about three projects funded by NASA and the FAA, addressing congestion in the National Airspace System. Dr. Lovell's team developed diffusion-based queuing models of individual airports that could support better building blocks for network-wide congestion models. The advantage of the new models is their flexibility with respect to input distributions. In a study for the FAA, Dr. Lovell's team developed day-of-operations collaboration "languages" suitable for the FAA and individual carriers in order to collectively manage expected airspace disruptions. Finally, he will discuss a study on predictability in the airspace, with a focus on scheduled block times.

Dr. Lovell is an Associate Professor with joint appointments in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research. He is a member of the faculty of the Applied Mathematics, Statistics, and Scientific Computation Program. He is director of the University of Maryland chapter of Engineers Without Borders - USA, and serves that organization on its board and as a leader of one of its Technical Advisory Councils. Dr. Lovell received his B.A. in Mathematics from Portland State University in 1990, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from the University...

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Junfeng Jiao, Assistant Professor in Urban Planning at Ball State University, will discuss his research on healthy food accessibility. His research introduced a new way to measure healthy food access and to identify food deserts, and was recently published by the American Journal of Public Health in 2012.

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Andrew Dannenberg, MD, MPH, is an Affiliate Professor in environmental health and in urban design and planning at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he teaches interdisciplinary courses on health impact assessment and on healthy community design.  He is also a consultant to and former Team Lead of the Healthy Community Design Initiative at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, where he works on activities related to examining the health aspects of community design with a special focus on the use of health impact assessment. Previously he served as Director of CDC’s Division of Applied Public Health Training, as Preventive Medicine Residency director and as an injury prevention epidemiologist on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in Baltimore, and as a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.  Dr. Dannenberg received an MD from Stanford University and an MPH from Johns Hopkins University, and completed a family medicine residency at the Medical University of South Carolina.  With Drs. Howard Frumkin and Richard Jackson, he recently published a book on healthy community design entitled Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Health, Well-being, and Sustainability (Island Press, 2011, www.makinghealthyplaces.com).

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