From left: Denver Tolliver, Lily Elefteriadou, Jennifer Dill and Atorod Azizinamini

TREC director Jennifer Dill shares operation insights with panel at CUTC annual meeting

posted on Thursday, June 22, 2017, 12:45pm PDT

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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Psychology teaches us that implicit biases—attitudes we hold on a level below consciousness, and may not even be aware of—can have a heavy influence on split-second decisions.

In a fast-paced activity like driving, with a lot of moving parts in a complex environment, we make those snap decisions all the time. There are obvious safety implications to this, particularly for the most vulnerable road users.

That’s why TREC researchers are becoming more and more interested in studying implicit bias and social psychology as it relates to transportation behavior.

The latest report from the NITC program, Exploring Drivers’ Attitudes and Behaviors toward Bicyclists: The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Attitudes on Self-Reported Safety Behaviors, is a dissertation by NITC fellow Tara Goddard.

With a focus on driver-cyclist interactions, Goddard dives into the social psychology of roadway interactions and comes up with some interesting takeaways for practitioners and researchers.

Before moving to Portland in 2011 to begin her Ph.D., Goddard was the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the City of Davis, California, and says that it’s important to understand...

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A NITC study took a look at how metropolitan planning organizations, or MPOs, can better serve transportation-disadvantaged and historically marginalized populations when creating regional transportation plans.

The transportation disadvantaged are those unable to drive or who lack access to an automobile, and may include the elderly, low income, young people, persons with disabilities, and those with permanent or temporary health conditions. Historically marginalized communities are often left out of the planning process and include many of the same groups but also ethnic and racial minorities.

A new freeway, with all its attendant air and noise pollution, might cut through a part of town where low-income and minority populations are concentrated. Bike lanes sometimes wait to make an appearance until a neighborhood has begun to gentrify. People over the age of 60, as well as people of color, are at greater risk of being killed by a car while walking. Low-income neighborhoods often have poor access to regional transportation networks, making getting to and from work and other destinations a challenge for residents. English language proficiency is a barrier to participating in the transportation planning process and is also recognized as a dimension of transportation disadvantage.

To address problems like this, equity needs to be a priority in every regional transportation planning process. 

The report,...

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While it’s generally accepted that dense, mixed-use development promotes active travel, researchers don’t have a consensus on exactly how, and to what degree, land use determines people’s travel patterns.

NITC’s latest report, Active Travel Behavior and Spatial-Temporal Land Use Mixing, provides some clarity on the topic.

NITC fellow Steven Gehrke focused his dissertation research on transportation-land use interaction, and sees land use mix as a multidimensional construct.

“We can refocus—away from increasing density—and think more about how we configure land uses,” Gehrke said.

According to Gehrke’s research, more density does not necessarily equal more walking. Rather, the complementarity, composition, and configuration of land use types is essential for cultivating walkability.

Gehrke, who graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Portland State University, conducted three empirical studies under his dissertation grant. The first focused on improving measurements of land use mix, introducing a land use mix measurement of the composition and configuration of local land use types.

The second study looked at other smart growth principles, like employment concentration and pedestrian-...

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As social media comes to permeate every aspect of modern life, public transit is no exception.

Transit agencies are increasingly making social media an integral part of their day-to-day management, using it to connect with riders about system alerts, live transit arrival information, service disruptions and customer feedback.

However, there is very little evidence to show how effective these efforts really are in achieving agency goals.

Measuring the Impacts of Social Media on Advancing Public Transit, a NITC project led by Jenny Liu of Portland State University, seeks to provide a better understanding of how transit agencies use social media and to develop some performance measures to assess the impacts of social media on promoting public transit.

This project aims to measure how social media actually impacts agency goals like increasing recruitment and retention of transit riders; increasing resources and customer satisfaction; addressing system performance efficiency; and improving employee productivity and morale.

A survey of 27 public transportation providers across the country found that although 94% of those surveyed agencies used some form of social media, only 28% had a social media plan or strategy prior to implementation.

Liu’s research explores the types of performance measures that could...

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While bike-sharing systems become increasingly common in American cities, questions about the equity of such systems are making their way to the forefront of the conversation.

Bike share can provide a cheap and healthy means of transportation, but many systems are not serving the lower-income and minority populations who, arguably, could benefit most from having the additional travel option.

A survey of 56 bike share system operators in the United States offers an overview of how these equity concerns are being addressed.

The survey is part of a larger research effort, Evaluating Efforts to Improve the Equity of Bike Share Systems. To gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved in providing more equitable bike share, TREC and NITC teamed up with the Better Bike Share Partnership: a collaboration between PeopleForBikes, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and other local partners.

Nathan McNeil, a Portland State University research associate, is leading the research team in evaluating efforts to improve bike share equity with co-investigators John MacArthur and Jennifer Dill.

The researchers surveyed...

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In 2016, road crashes resulted in 40,000 deaths and 4.6 million injuries in the United States. For young people under age 19, these collisions were the leading cause of death.

What if we could use technology to predict where vehicle collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists will occur, then take steps to prevent them? Would you want to help? Well, now you can.

Portland State University is particpating in a multi-city, multi-organizational partnership called Video Analytics Towards Vision Zero. As indicated in this ITE Journal Article, this technology development partnership aims to use footage from traffic cameras across North America to “teach” computers how to recognize near-miss collisions. Data from these machine learning systems will allow transportation engineers to predict where crashes will occur and take proactive measures to prevent them.

The partnership invites public participation in the next project milestone – using crowdsourcing to analyze video and teach computers to identify a person in a wheelchair, on a bike or in a car, as well as patterns of movement in intersections. The more volunteers who take part, the better computers will learn to recognize near-miss collisions.

To participate, visit: http://www.ite.org/visionzero/videoanalytics/.

Here’s how it works: volunteers will...

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Transportation workforce development doesn't always take place at the university level. Students' interest in transportation can start much earlier than that, which is why TREC is always looking for ways to engage elementary and high school students in transportation. Under the guidance of Lisa Patterson, our new technology transfer and workforce development program manager, TREC's education programs continue to expand. Many of our education efforts focus on drawing women and minorities, who are often underrepresented in STEM fields, to consider the possibilities of transportation as a profession.

On Tuesday, May 16, Patterson held an information table at Oregon's 2017 MESA Day, an annual state student engineering competition, to offer students a look at some of TREC's upcoming education programs. These included a ChickTech workshop as well as TREC's second Summer Transportation Institute, a free transportation-focused summer camp for which applications are now being accepted.

TREC hosted the ChickTech workshop on Saturday, May 20 at Portland State University, offering a GIS “crash” course for high school girls.

The workshop, held in the Intelligent Transportation Systems (...

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Everyday cycling for transportation can have positive, population-level health impacts.

Significant deterrents to cycling remain, however, particularly for women and minorities.

Narratives of Marginalized Cyclists, a NITC project conducted by Amy Lubitow of Portland State University, explores the experiences of women and minorities biking in Portland, Oregon.

Lubitow interviewed 28 Portlanders who self-identified as a woman or as a racial/ethnic minority (or both), and based on the insights gained from their stories, came up with a set of recommended interventions for planners to mitigate the barriers they experience.

"Institutionalized racism and sexism is hard to fix. These are complicated issues that involve multiple levels of interventions, but at a basic sort of smaller scale, there are things we can do," Lubitow said.

She chose participants who own a bike and ride it at least once a month, but not more than once a week. The primary aim of the project was to collect rich, narrative data regarding obstacles to routine or utilitarian cycling for women and minorities who already see biking as a viable form of transportation, but who make relatively few bike trips.

The interviews...

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A new NITC report examines factors that predict whether a driver will comply with Oregon laws aimed at keeping pedestrians safe.

Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State University, director of the Transportation, Technology & People (TTP) research lab, has done extensive work in Portland, Oregon modeling and analyzing the complex interactions between cars, transit, traffic signal technologies and human roadway users.

The research seeks to provide a better understanding of the tradeoffs between traffic mobility, transit performance and pedestrian access.

The first phase of Figliozzi’s research focused on how two advanced traffic control technologies work together. In this second phase, he zeroes in on pedestrian safety.

The report examines traffic and trajectory factors that explain whether a driver complies with Oregon law, which has strong pedestrian protections. In Oregon, drivers must stop for pedestrians as soon as they move onto the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed.

Oregon state law determines that there is a crosswalk at every intersection with or without a marked crosswalk. The state also requires that a driver, before crossing a crosswalk, stop and remain stopped for pedestrians until the pedestrians...

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The Federal Highway Administration issued an interim approval for bike signals, based on the NITC project "Operational Guidance for Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals." This video provides a look at what that means for jurisdictions in the U.S.

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