Researchers create tool to forecast pedestrian demand

posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 - 3:45pm

A new NITC project has developed a robust pedestrian demand estimation tool, the first of its kind in the country.

Using the tool, planners can predict pedestrian trips with spatial acuity.

The research was completed in partnership with Oregon Metro, and will allow Metro to allocate infrastructure based on pedestrian demand in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

In a previous project completed last year as part of the same partnership, the lead investigator, Kelly Clifton, developed a way to collect data about the pedestrian environment on a small, neighborhood scale that made sense for walk trips. For more about how that works, click here to read our news coverage of that project. 

Following the initial project, the next step was to take that micro-level pedestrian data and use it to predict destination choice. For every walk trip generated by the model in the first project, this tool matches it to a likely destination based on traveler characteristics and environmental attributes.

Patrick Singleton, a graduate student researcher at Portland State...

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Patrick Singleton, a Portland State University doctoral candidate in the school of Civil & Environmental Engineering, has been selected as the 2015 NITC university transportation center student of the year.

To be nominated for this award, which includes a $1000 stipend and also covers the recipient’s attendance to the Transportation Research Board (TRB)’s annual meeting, graduate students must demonstrate technical merit and research accomplishments, as well as outstanding academic performance, professionalism and leadership.

The award comes at the close of an auspicious year for Singleton. In the spring of 2015 he attended the Eno Leadership Development Conference as an Eno fellow. He was also one of four civil and environmental engineering students from PSU to be awarded the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship in 2014, and at last year’s TRB annual meeting, he was selected as TRB’s top-ranked Eisenhower Fellow.

Singleton studies active travel behavior and travel demand. His postgraduate research at PSU has tackled statistical analysis of the complex decision-making processes surrounding walking and bicycling.

Portland State University today achieved the highest ranking from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly University program. Portland State is now one of just five platinum universities recognized under the program.

Other NITC program campuses were also designated as bike friendly. University of Oregon achieved gold status and University of Utah, silver.

The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning, known as the Five E's.

The league noted that Portland State’s support for bicycling has helped reduce congestion, improve air quality and lower the demand for parking on campus. “Portland State encourages bicycling as an affordable, efficient option for transportation and provides amenities such as indoor bicycle parking, low-cost bicycle rentals, and an on-campus Bike Hub, where students can find everything they need to make bicycling a part of their commute options,” the league stated.

PSU previously was a gold-level bike-friendly university. In the past two years it expanded its “Vik Bike” bicycle rental program from 12 bicycles to 134. Each bike comes with lights, a lock and a helmet. The program, in which students can rent a bike for a term, receive training on bike commuting and bike maintenance, has a waiting list of participants.

The latest report released by NITC offers a unique tool for communities: a guide to broadening residents’ knowledge about their transportation system and how to effect the changes they want to see.

Community involvement and outreach is an important part of any planning effort, but as planners often find, many times the conversation is a difficult one to carry on. Residents may lack the technical knowledge to understand the intricacies of the system, or they may show skepticism toward the planning process in general.

“Transportation Leadership Education,” a project by Portland State University research associate Nathan McNeil, offers a startup kit for communities to stimulate the development of a more involved, educated citizenry.

“One of the conventions has been that public involvement is based around a specific plan or a specific project. This approach is more proactive; it recognizes the value in having informed citizens... building up the civic infrastructure of people, knowledge and connections,” McNeil said.

For the past 24 years, the City of Portland and Portland State University have teamed up to offer a ten-week transportation education course, free of charge to community members.

Seleta Reynolds of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation treated attendees of the Ann Niles Active Transportation Lecture to a provocative, entertaining presentation Oct. 6. Reynolds, the head of a 2,000-employee department, offered a perspective on striving for equity in a huge, diverse city.

TREC’s Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation program, or IBPI, Reynolds filled the Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center at the Ecotrust building in northwest Portland Oct. 6. Her presentation ranged from Vision Zero to autonomous vehicles.

The Niles lecture series serves as a legacy to Ann Niles, an advocate for livable neighborhoods in Portland. The lecture also coincided with the kickoff of a two-year campaign to create the IBPI Innovation in Active Transportation Endowed Scholarship, designed to help Portland State attract and retain the best and brightest students.

In Los Angeles, making sure transportation decisions benefit all residents is a constant and evolving challenge, Reynolds said at the lecture. All communities need to be at the table for discussions that affect them. The key, Reynolds said, is to “listen quietly and speak with humility.”

The first Transportation and Communities Summit picked up where its predecessor summit left off, offering a day of professional development opportunities and a few new touches. Around 275 people attended this year’s summit, held Sept. 15 at Portland State University.

The highlight for many, according to post-event surveys, was the keynote address by author and sociology professor Eric Klinenberg. Keeping alive a tradition from earlier Oregon Transportation Summits, Klinenberg’s address gave insight into an issue that intersects with transportation—in this case, the rise of single-occupant households—without directly detailing the transportation implications.

The breakout sessions allowed attendees to delve deeper into topics directly related to their professions. A full 54 percent of survey respondents called the breakout sessions the most valuable piece of the summit program. The most highly rated sessions were “Waiting to Connect,” on connected vehicles; “Something from Nothing,” on funding; “Zeroing in on Safety,” on Vision Zero; and “Baby, You can Drive my Car;” on the sharing economy. 

Slides from all these presentations are available at the summit page.

Portland State University and the city of Portland will partner on a series of “smart city” projects over the next year as part of a national MetroLab Network initiative, announced at the White House on Monday, Sept. 14.

PSU and Portland are among 20 city-university pairings throughout the United States taking part in the initiative, in which partners will research, develop and deploy innovative technologies to address challenges facing the nation’s urban areas.

The White House statement about the MetroLab Network was part of a larger event announcing other smart cities programs being launched on the federal level. The Smart Cities Initiative will invest more than $160 million in federal research and leverage new technology innovations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of climate change and improving the delivery of city services.

NITC announces the opportunity to apply for awards to support small research development endeavors. The purpose of these awards is to assist researchers who are interested in transportation but have not had an opportunity to undertake a small project that supports safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities. Individual awards cannot exceed $15,000. All grants require 1:1 match. Proposals are due November 6, 2015. Please visit the NITC website for more information.

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) announces the opportunity to apply for grants to support implementation or translation of research results.

Grants are limited to disseminating results stemming from previously funded and completed research funded by the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) or NITC. The purpose of these awards is to turn research into products that can be used by practitioners and/or researchers to further advance implementation. Priority will be given to projects that promote transportation and livable communities.
Examples of technology transfer activities include:
  • Activity aimed at assisting local agencies or partners in implementing research results. This can be in the form of an in-person workshop, on-line webinar, development of a “how to” or training video, handbook, guidebook, software/spreadsheet tools, etc.
  • Refining or developing and disseminating tools that can be used by practitioners, students, or researchers to further the state of the practice.
For more information and to download the proposal, please visit:
Proposals are due November 6, 2015. If you miss this cycle, there...
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The 2015 Ann Niles Active Transportation Lecture with featured speaker Seleta Reynolds, initially set for last May but postponed due to unforeseen conflicts, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, October 6.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at Ecotrust's Billy Frank Jr. Conference Center, in Portland's Pearl District. RSVP here to secure a spot.

Reynolds will discuss the challenges of fostering active transportation in car country.

Despite its reputation as a city built for automobiles, Los Angeles has made huge strides toward promoting active transportation and transit. In a diverse city with a unique land use and transportation system, however, serving all residents poses a challenge. It’s a challenge Seleta Reynolds, the general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, is up for. In Los Angeles, equity and transportation are bound together and the city's transportation department must take on equity in a big way. Read more...

Christopher Monsere, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Portland State University whose research focuses on multimodal safety, has been selected to be a member of Portland, Oregon's new Vision Zero Task Force.

Vision Zero is a multi-national safety project which aims to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on the roads.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation, in an effort to make Portland's transportation system the safest possible, is taking steps to move toward zero traffic-related fatalities in the next 10 years.

To connect this work with a wider community effort, Mayor Charlie Hales kicked off the Vision Zero Task Force with a gathering last Monday, August 17, at the intersection of 82nd Avenue and Division—two of Portland’s most lethal corridors.

The Task Force is a multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional group of members with a clear mandate: to work together and create a community-wide action plan with real solutions. Its members were chosen by Hales and Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick based on their qualifications and commitment.

Monsere will serve in an advisory capacity and investigate solutions as a TREC researcher. His expertise in the area of multimodal safety makes him uniquely qualified to offer...

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