Students compete to make a 20-minute neighborhood out of gingerbread

posted on Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 3:00pm

Never mind making a gingerbread house — Portland State University’s Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP) club has more ambition than that.

Every December the club gets together to create sweet solutions to planning challenges. Past objectives have included designing a gingerbread Columbia River Crossing in 2011, or last year’s “transportation and Portlandia” theme.

This year’s gathering, which took place Thursday, December 4, set out to create a gingerbread 20-minute neighborhood: a vibrant, densely packed area of delicious mixed residential and commercial land uses, also known as a transit-oriented development.

The STEP students stepped up as usual, creating some fantastic livable, and edible, neighborhoods for the holidays.

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Jolene Liu, a senior from Westview High School in Beaverton, completed a successful internship with TREC this year. The internship was funded by IBM through the Saturday Academy's Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering (ASE) program.

Liu worked under the tutelage of TREC researcher Krista Nordback for two months, stringing up an impressive list of accopmlishments over that time. She worked to help create the online non-motorized traffic count archive, a centralized database for bicycling and walking count data. Liu tested the database structure, summarized data formats and wrote help text for future users. She also processed manual counts of pedestrians and cyclists from intersections in Bend, Eugene, Portland and throughout Oregon.

For an IBPI professional development course, Liu also calibrated pedestrian counting equipment and demonstrated the equipment for course participants.

Perhaps most impressively, Liu co-authored a paper accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board this coming January: "Creating a National Non-motorized Traffic Count Archive: Process and Progress," Paper 15-5310.

"She was amazing," Nordback said. "She took on tasks most undergrads wouldn't have been able to handle, plus she took amazing notes at our (Technical Advisory Committee) meeting in Salem.

On Monday, October 27th, sixteen of the brightest minds in Portland, Oregon met at Portland State University to talk about the future of transportation in front of an eager audience.

Professionals, students, faculty and interested citizens gathered in the student union to listen to visions of futuristic infrastructure, connected "smart" cities, and complete overhauls of the current way of doing things.

The event, called "Let's Be Fearless," was organized to foster discussion around innovative ideas. It was also the unveiling of TREC, PSU's brand-new Transportation Research and Education Center.

It was intended as an informal, fun way to get creative minds thinking about transportation.

Each of the 16 participants had three minutes to sell their big idea to the audience about what should be next for Portland.

Participants included engineers from Intel, professors from PSU and transportation professionals from the Portland area.

Portland has often been considered a leader in progressive multi-modal transportation systems, but in recent years, the city seems to be running out of inspiration.

To help Portland maintain its leadership status, TREC wanted...

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Portland State University has earned a reputation for innovative transportation programs that span multiple disciplines, all in service of livable communities. That expertise is now available in a single place through the newly renamed TREC, Portland State’s transportation research and education center.  

Growing out of OTREC, TREC is the steward of Portland State’s participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers program. The program has awarded Portland State more than $30 million since 2006, with a nonfederal match requirement amplifying the effect of the federal investment and touching more community partners. 

The new website, trec.pdx.edu, lets visitors search for transportation research and researchers across campus by topic or browse by research area. 

With leadership from Rep. Peter DeFazio, OTREC was founded in 2006 as a four-campus consortium and expanded into a broader transportation center. The original OTREC grant ran until 2014, funding 237 research, education and technology transfer projects. In addition to carrying on this legacy, TREC also:

NITC researchers have created a design manual to aid traffic engineers, transportation planners, elected officials, businesses and community stakeholders in re-envisioning their streets.
 
Traditionally, road design in the U.S. has been based on the simple principle of moving as many cars as possible.
 

The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) is teaming up with Alta Planning + Design to offer a firsthand, on-the-ground training opportunity at the end of October.

They will teach a trail design course at Portland State University, with field tours of some of Portland's biggest trail challenges and best solutions.

Course instructors are Alta associates Robin Wilcox, George Hudson, and Karen Vitkay. They will share their experience and provide examples from some of the best trails around the country.

Multi-use trails, not accessible by car but meant to be shared by pedestrians, cyclists and the occasional leashed dog, are pleasant routes by almost anyone’s standards. Often winding through wooded areas or along waterways, insulated from the noise of traffic and offering contact with nature, they present an attractive alternative to cyclists who are not as comfortable riding on busy streets.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) invites proposals for the Fall 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships. This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT), and is a partnership between Portland State University (PSU), the University of Oregon (UO), the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), and the University of Utah (UU). The mission of the UTC program is to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research, and technology transfer at university-based centers. See utc.dot.gov for more information.

Fellowships up to $15,000 will be awarded to cover expenses for the recipient while working on their dissertation. A Spring 2015 NITC Dissertation RFP will be released in January with applications due in April 2015.

NITC is focused on contributing to transportation projects that support innovations in: livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability

ELIGIBILITY

Students must be a US Citizen and have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree prior to the application deadline. NITC fellowships are open to students currently enrolled in a transportation-related doctoral program at Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech),...

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With his 2011 book, “Human Transit,” consultant Jarrett Walker provided planners and community members with a new way to think about the choices transit planning requires. Since that time, Walker has focused on what transit actually delivers. He calls this concept “abundant access”: how much of your city is available to you in a short amount of time.

Walker will delve into this topic Monday, Sept. 15 as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Transportation Summit. Online registration for the summit closes Wednesday night.

Register now!

“Abundant access is an interesting way to think about transit and something that brings it into the personal frame of liberty that is missing from most analysis of urban outcomes,” Walker said. “How we talk about sensations of freedom, so that we don’t just sound like bureaucrats who know what’s good for everyone.”

Urbanist leaders go astray, Walker said, when they put other goals ahead of the liberty and opportunity that useful transit provides. That could mean catering to developers or creating a symbolic transit system that is fun to ride but doesn’t serve regular transit users well.

Walker calls the New Urbanist conceit of prioritizing an aesthetically pleasing transit system over getting to destinations...

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In 2009, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that converts an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike.

An e-bike is considered a motorized bicycle under Massachusetts law. This means that once the 13-pound, 26-inch Copenhagen Wheel is attached to the rear wheel of a bicycle, the resulting vehicle requires a driver’s license to operate, must be registered with the DMV, and its rider must wear, not just a bike helmet, but a motorcycle helmet to be in compliance with the law.

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but market adoption has been slow in the United States.

Part of the reason could be that the law is often nebulous where e-bikes are concerned.

NITC researchers at Portland State University conducted a policy review revealing the current state of legislation regarding e-bikes in the United States and Canada.

(First published by BikePortland.org)

Sue Groth’s job: use math and millions of dollars to stop injuries before they happen.

The team Groth leads at the Minnesota Department of Transportation has probably saved a few hundred lives over the last 10 years. In that time they’ve reinvented “highway safety” spending and seen traffic fatalities fall almost twice as fast as they have in Oregon and the rest of the country.

Groth is the plenary speaker at the Sept. 15 Oregon Transportation Summit hosted by OTREC at Portland State University. Michael Andersen of BikePortland spoke to her last week to talk about MnDOT’s daring decision to give up some of the “gobs of money” it gets for highway safety and hand it to local agencies instead.

What’s the nature of your work on the safety movement called Vision Zero, also known as Toward Zero Deaths?
My state happened to be one of the first to adopt it. We have had a program for over 10 years now and have had some pretty good success. We don’t have to accept the fact that 400 people a year die on the roads in Minnesota, or 33,000 nationally.

An OTREC report from Oregon State University looked at various center median and bicycle lane configurations, and how they affect traffic at road access points.

In the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) publication A Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, commonly known as the Green Book, access points include the intersections of public roads as well as driveway locations. In the Green Book, most of the supporting research for the spacing of driveways is based on standard highway design procedures. They include simple human factors and geometric principles, and have not been thoroughly evaluated based on a variety of road cross section configurations.

Principal investigator Karen Dixon of Oregon State University sought to close this research gap by evaluating the influences of select cross-sectional-related design elements, specifically median configurations and bicycle lanes, on driveways.

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