Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick speaks at the opening of the Naito Pilot Project May 19. The project, designed by Portland State University students, creates temporary walking and bicycling lanes on Naito during the Portland Rose Festival.

Portland State seniors transform Naito Parkway into cycling- and walking-friendly throughway for Rose Festival

posted on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 10:30am

Portland State University today announced that the city of Portland will implement a student design to make one of downtown Portland’s busiest roads safer and more accessible to multimodal traffic.

The “Naito Pilot Project” is a civil engineering senior capstone sponsored by Better Block PDX, the local chapter of a national organization committed to the revitalization of urban spaces. The objective of the project is to increase access for pedestrians and bicycles without disrupting vehicle traffic.

Naito Parkway, a 3.1 mile stretch of arterial road, runs along the west bank of the Willamette River and is the subject of mounting safety concerns. Sidewalks on the east side of the street are not continuous for large stretches and bicycle lanes start and end abruptly. Such issues are exacerbated when large crowds are drawn to the waterfront for events.

“Our city engineers were impressed by the level of quality that the university’s students produced in their traffic control plan,” said Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, who publicly announced plans to implement the Naito Pilot Project at a press conference today. “I am proud that Portland State University is teaching its engineering students the value of utilizing their skills to create public space, improve safety, and engineer an environment conducive to better health.” 

The temporary demonstration is set to run from May 22 to...

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A new study led by Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State University provides a microscopic evaluation of how two advanced traffic control technologies work together.

Powell Boulevard, an east-west arterial corridor in southeast Portland, Oregon, has been the focus of several research studies by Figliozzi’s TTP research lab. The street is a key route for public transit buses as well as pedestrians and cars, but heavy traffic at peak hours often results in delays.

On Powell there are two systems operating concurrently: a demand-responsive traffic signal system called Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) and a Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system. The TSP in the Portland metro region is designed to give priority to late buses and to boost transit performance.

In previous studies Figliozzi’s lab has analyzed a multitude of factors on Powell Boulevard including traffic congestion, transit times, air quality and cyclists’ intake of air pollutants, and a before/after evaluation of SCATS.

For this study, the researchers used a novel approach to evaluate how well SCATS and TSP work together by integrating three major data sources and video recordings at individual intersections.

Founded to collect the transportation data created by agencies across the region, Portal had done its job almost too well. The data archive, a program of TREC, had taken in more data than it could make available.

Portal started in 2004 with just one data source: Oregon freeway loop detectors. Over the years, it grew into a truly multimodal data archive, incorporating transit data, traffic signal data, bicycle and pedestrian counts – eight data sources spanning two states and multiple agencies.

Its budget didn’t grow proportionately, however, leaving Portal less able to make use of the data it collected. Portal’s $125,000 in regional transportation money just kept the system running, said Portal director Kristin Tufte. “It was enough money to keep the lights on,” she said.

Given Portal’s potential to help agencies improve operations and researchers to address systemwide issues, that wasn’t enough. The information had to be accessible to make a difference.

A boost in support for Portal is helping to make that possible. With a grant from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State, TREC hired a Portal programmer this year to present the data visually.

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 traffic flow and increased capacity.

William Becker, the director of PSU’s Center for Science Education, and Carol Biskupic-Knight began the NITC project in collaboration with the Portland Metro STEM Partnership, where Biskupic-Knight is the director of the STEM teachers academy.

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.”

After meeting with TREC researchers earlier this year, a team of students from Grant High School in Portland, Oregon developed a mobile app that uses real-time data to help cyclists find available bike parking, and took three awards in Portland State University’s High School Innovation Challenge.

The app, which senses the presence or absence of a bicycle’s tire with a logic box located at the bike rack, could also be used to notify owners if their bicycle is removed (i.e. stolen) when they are not present.

Saturday, April 11 was the third annual High School Innovation Challenge, a STEM competition sponsored by the Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at PSU.

The Grant team won the awards for Best Presentation, Best Technology Focus, and Audience Favorite, making them the only team entered in the 2015 challenge to receive more than one award.

Team members Cory Koehler, Aubrey Masten, Konon Phillips, Richard Smith, Sarah St. Clair and Alex Taylor met with TREC researchers in mid-February for a tour and explanations of the technology behind transportation systems.

Afterward, they worked with Portland State University student mentors Ke’Liilah Vara and Barbara Acevedo to come up with...

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TREC will take part in a regional effort to improve travel on all modes through the Interstate 84 corridor. The project received word of nearly $200,000 in support from the Federal Highway Administration.

The FHWA grant, announced Feb. 24, will go toward a study to see how best to manage traffic through a 45-square-mile corridor, using advanced information technologies and real-time travel information. The study aims to help people make better choices about when and where they travel and how they get there.

Metro will lead the effort, which also includes the Oregon Department of Transportation, TriMet, Multnomah County and the cities of Portland and Gresham. Portland State will participate on the project management team and in a technical advisory role, with the Portal multimodal data archive serving as a key tool for understanding and visualizing data throughout the corridor, including the freeway, arterials, transit lines and bikeways.

The grant was one of 13 awarded from among more than 30 proposals for FHWA’s Integrated Corridor Management grant program. The total project cost is $239,600.

Patrick Singleton, a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering at Portland State University, has been selected for a fellowship to attend the 2015 Eno Leadership Development Conference this spring, where he will be able to meet and talk with some of the nation’s top transportation policymakers.

The Eno fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for transportation students. Only one student from each university transportation program can be nominated by their school, and of those nominated, only 20 fellows nationwide are chosen each year. Those selected as Eno Fellows are invited to come to Washington, D.C., all expenses paid, to meet with federal officials, nonprofit and business organization leaders.

From May 31 to June 4, Singleton will attend a series of meetings, workshops and tours designed to be an introduction to the transportation policy making landscape.

“It’s very exciting. One thing that I’m looking forward to most is the opportunity to have a two-way dialogue, with the other student participants and also with the transportation industry leaders. I’d like to have a dialogue with them, as a grad student and aspiring academic, about how the research I’ve been working on can help inform important transportation policy questions and to address some of our current transportation challenges,” Singleton said.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) invites proposals for Spring 2015 Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships.

Who can apply?

NITC dissertation 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), University of South Florida (USF) or the University of Utah (UU).

To be eligible, the student must be a U.S. Citizen and must have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree prior to the application deadline of May 1, 2015.

Interested students should download the Request for Proposals and Application Form or visit the NITC For Researchers page for more information on submitting proposals.

All research proposals must be consistent with the NITC theme of livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability. A more detailed explanation of the theme can be found in the Request for Proposals and Application Form.

On Monday, February 23, TREC and the Oregon Department of Transportation conducted controlled tests on various methods for counting cyclists.

Krista Nordback, a TREC research associate specializing in bicycle and pedestrian counting and safety, coordinated the event with ODOT staff in Salem, Oregon.

The testing was part of an ongoing study in which TREC and ODOT are partnering up to determine the most efficient and effective way for Oregon to collect non-motorized counts.

“Counting bicycles and pedestrians is something that ODOT wants to be doing,” Nordback said. “The purpose of this project is to find ways to do that using the equipment they already have or are planning to purchase anyway.”

A pilot project last year, headed by TREC researcher Miguel Figliozzi, tested the accuracy of data collection using signal infrastructure already in place. Researchers analyzed video footage of intersections and compared the number of active travelers with the numbers produced by the counters.

Prof. Kelly Clifton had planned for students in her “Theories And Methods Of Travel Behavior” course to give final presentations March 11. But the course had just wrapped up a unit on public policy.

Clifton, a TREC researcher, instead offered a rare opportunity: the class spent its final course meeting grilling U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon’s senior representative and a major player in transportation policy.

DeFazio used the session to field questions about his work on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and to get ideas for solving problems before the committee from some of the country’s most respected transportation students.

Topics included alternatives to the gasoline tax, health, performance measures and behavior modification. Around 25 students attended, including some from outside the travel behavior course.

As the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, DeFazio looks for ways to deal with deteriorating infrastructure. Faced with questions on the intersections between transportation and disciplines such as health and education, DeFazio acknowledged how much struggles in one area affect others.

“There’s a whole host of things we’re not investing in,” DeFazio said. If properly funded, he said, programs such as Safe Routes to School can improve all the disciplines they touch.

To be published later this spring is some of the first bicycle-focused research into shared space, a controversial urban design approach pioneered in the Netherlands in the 1990s.

Allison Duncan, a PhD candidate in urban studies & planning at Portland State University, earned a NITC dissertation fellowship in 2014 and used the research grant to study shared space intersections in the United Kingdom.

Shared space designs have recently been adopted at a handful of sites in the UK and others scattered across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They are characterized by a lack of physical guidelines such as curbs, road surface markings and traffic signs to define who has the right-of-way.

The idea is for pedestrians, cars and bicycles to mingle in a common zone and use eye contact and natural communication to make sure no one gets hurt.

“Cyclists and pedestrians are supposed to be able to treat it more like a plaza and just cross where they want to, and drivers are supposed to yield,” Duncan said.

As a street design scheme, shared space isn’t exactly new. It’s more or less the way all streets were designed until the advent of cars, and is still the norm in many Asian countries where cars share the roads with a crowd of two- and three-wheeled...

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