TREC Is Celebrating Car-Free Commutes

posted on Friday, September 22, 2017, 10:45am PDT

Happy World #CarFreeDay! Not satisfied with just one day of celebrating alternate mobility choice, we're kicking off a week of #OffbeatCommute by sharing the off the beaten path commutes of the staff, faculty and researchers of TREC, NITC and IBPI. Whether that's by bike, public transit, rollerblades, skateboarding, cartwheelin', or hitchin a ride (like honorary TREC staffer Tomato - pictured right).

We invite you to join us in tagging your #OffbeatCommute by sharing your photos, videos and stories!

Starting off with a bang, here's our Communications Coordinator, Lacey Friedly, on her trek to TREC (hint, water is involved):

In celebration of Car-Free Day, I wanted to share a video of my human-powered journey to work. And so, last month I borrowed a GoPro and recorded my commute. I wanted to do this before the summer was over, because my commute had gotten particularly awesome during 2017. Earlier this summer I heard about Benjamin David, the man who got so tired of the traffic in Munich that he started...

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Nineteen girls presented ingenious transportation ideas to a packed room on Friday, August 18, the closing day of TREC's 2017 National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI). For two weeks, the high schoolers had stayed in Ondine Residence Hall on the Portland State University campus; meeting for daily lectures at PSU's Engineering Building, hearing from some of the women who run transportation systems in Portland, Oregon and touring the city's agencies.

In between guest lectures and field trips, the NSTI class worked on group projects, which they presented at Friday's closing event to their family members and the course instructors.

On the first day of the camp, they were asked to think about a real-world transportation problem so they could use the skills they would gain to present a solution at the end of the course.

The problems were real, and the solutions were impressive.

It might be because the guest lecturers were actual practitioners, who gave real talk about the issues they've encountered in their work and how they've tried to solve them.

It might also be because the curriculum was directed by TREC's own amazing Lisa Patterson and Ellee Stapleton along with Sarah...

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Principal Investigator: Kristina Currans, Portland State University
Project Overview: Data and Methodological Issues in Assessing Multimodal Transportation Impacts for Urban Development
Learn more about this research project by viewing the two-page Project Brief, related presentations, and the full Final Report.

As cities aim to promote sustainable, multimodal growth, sometimes the way we go about development review processes can create barriers to achieving the results we want. Some of the methods we have inherited, while still useful, have distinct limitations.

NITC dissertation fellow Kristina Currans took on this challenge in her doctoral research project, Data and Methodological Issues in Assessing Multimodal Transportation Impacts for Urban Development.

The guidelines for evaluating transportation impacts of new development were originally published  in 1976 by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Decades later, we’re still using essentially the same processes all across the U.S. and Canada, and these methods—which harbor a lack of sensitivity to urban contexts—could use an update.

Currans graduated from Portland State...

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Normally we assume that travel is a means to an end, but the latest NITC report examines other benefits of travel—aspects that aren’t about reaching a destination.

One such benefit is travel-based multitasking. A good example of this is using time on a commuter train to listen to music, relax or get some work done.

The simple enjoyment of a walk in the fresh air relates to another benefit, known as subjective well-being, in which the act of travel itself makes a person feel better. 

These intrinsic benefits can impact travel behavior and mode choice, but our current models don’t have any way to reflect this.

NITC fellow Patrick Singleton investigated the policy and planning implications of this in his dissertation, Exploring The Positive Utility Of Travel And Mode Choice.

"The way we analyze travel behavior assumes people want to get from A to B as quickly as possible. We don’t include the other benefits in travel demand models," Singleton said.

The idea that travel can provide benefits beyond reaching destinations is known in the travel behavior field as "the positive utility of travel" (PUT) concept.

Singleton’s dissertation makes some important contributions to this field.

By documenting reliable and meaningful ways to measure subjective well-being from travel, the report represents an advancement in how these concepts can be investigated. 

The paper...

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It’s never too early to start teaching kids about careers in transportation. Though they might not be ready for complex engineering, elementary school children are more than ready to form ideas about their possible futures.

On July 27 at Poynter Middle School in Hillsboro, Oregon, around 70 young Latina girls learned about different transportation modes, mapped their neighborhoods, and exchanged ideas with seven female professionals who work in transportation in the Portland metro area.

Lisa Patterson, TREC’s workforce development program manager, coordinated the event with Chicas Youth Development, a program of Adelante Mujeres. Patterson and a crew of six dedicated volunteers taught three transportation-focused workshops at a Chicas summer scholastic camp. 

The purpose of the workshops was to teach students about transportation concepts and introduce them to the possibility that they could grow up to work in transportation, an industry very much in need of a diverse workforce.

Patterson and volunteers Olivia Holden, Gwen Chambers, Molly McCormick, Erin Wardell, Jessica Pelz and Tegan Enloe spent the day in three workshops with different age groups, leading brainstorming exercises and encouraging the girls to think about the ways in which transportation affects their daily lives. 


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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is now accepting proposals for Small Starts grants and Dissertation Fellowships.

The purpose of a Small Starts grant is to assist researchers who are interested in transportation but have not had an opportunity to undertake a small project consistent with NITC's theme of Improving the Mobility of People and Goods to Build Strong Communities.

The NITC theme connects directly with the U.S. DOT priority of improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities. All proposals must be consistent with this theme, as defined in the request for proposals (RFP).

Faculty members and research faculty eligible to serve as Principal Investigators (PIs) at our partner universities: Portland State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Oregon, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Utah may submit proposals and serve as PIs with NITC.

Read more about...

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New transit service often spurs new development. As transit makes an area more accessible, it becomes a more attractive place for investors to build.

This new investment, however, can create serious housing problems for the very residents who depend most on transit: lower-income households and people of color.

The latest report from the NITC program, from a research effort led by Lisa Bates and Aaron Golub of Portland State University, studies the intended and unintended costs and benefits of a new transit investment on the diverse communities of East Portland, Oregon; many already under stress from existing development and gentrification pressures.

The report, Planning Ahead for Livable Communities Along the Powell-Division BRT: Neighborhood Conditions and Change, offers an analysis of the planning of a new transit infrastructure project in Portland, crossing several neighborhoods in different stages of gentrification along the Powell-Division corridor. Public transit use for commuting is higher in the study corridor than in surrounding areas, and car ownership in the...

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities program (NITC) has selected its latest round of general research projects. The NITC executive committee chose to fund six projects out of the 22 proposals submitted.

The new projects feature principal investigators from five of NITC’s partner schools: the University of Arizona, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology, Portland State University and the University of Utah. Two projects involve collaboration between universities. Each of the selected proposals advances NITC’s core theme of improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities.

The selected projects are:

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TREC is searching for a communications director to define and oversee our communications program. 

The communications director will be responsible for all communications, print and digital, and stewardship of the TREC and affiliate brands, including the NITC program, develops and maintains partnership within the PSU community and with partner campuses and represents TREC to the broader transportation community and partners. We are seeking an experienced media professional to oversee and develop our communications strategy, products and content, promotion, and external and media relations.

For more information, see details about the job posting.

Evidence has shown that higher-income and white populations use bike share systems more than people of color, lower-income, female, older, and less-educated groups.

In an ongoing study, Breaking Barriers to Bike Share, researchers are attempting to identify the reasons behind this disparity and possible solutions to make bike share work better for everyone. The newest report to come out of the study is a survey of residents of underserved communities.

Researchers Nathan McNeil, Jennifer Dill,  John MacArthur and Joseph Broach of Portland State University surveyed residents living near bike share stations placed in select neighborhoods of Philadelphia, Chicago and Brooklyn.

A summary report provides an overview of the findings from the resident survey.

Efforts on the part of the cities to locate bike share stations in low-income neighborhoods has largely removed one of the most significant barriers to equitable bike share: station siting. Nearly all—95 percent—of the residents surveyed had noticed a bike share station in...

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The Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC) held its 2017 annual Summer Meeting June 19–21 in Buffalo, New York.

The annual meeting draws the nation’s leading transportation professionals from academia and industry, along with U.S. DOT and other transportation agency officials. The event serves as a venue to exchange information and enhance collaboration between university transportation centers (UTCs). UTCs are research consortiums based at universities and focused on transportation topics. The UTC at Portland State University managed by TREC is the National Insitute of Transportation and Communities, or NITC.

Jennifer Dill, the director of TREC and NITC, attended the meeting this week along with associate director Hau Hagedorn and research and education program administrator Eva-Maria Muecke. Dill spoke on a panel about UTC operations with fellow UTC directors Atorod Azizinamini of Florida International University and Denver Tolliver of North Dakota State University. The panel was moderated by Lily Elefteriadou, director of the University of Florida Transportation Institute.

The panel members outlined the structure of their UTC and addressed a range of questions about how a UTC operates. Topics included how to collaborate and obtain match...

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