Event Date:
Feb 28, 2014
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Summary: Urban bicyclists’ uptake of traffic-related air pollution is still not well quantified, due to a lack of direct measurements of uptake and a lack of analysis of the variation in uptake. This paper describes and establishes the feasibility of a novel method for measuring bicyclists’ uptake of volatile organic compounds (VOC) by sampling breath concentrations. Early results from the data set demonstrate the ability of the proposed method to generate findings for transportation analysis, with statistically significant exposure and uptake differences from bicycling on arterial versus bikeway facilities for several traffic-related VOC. These results provide the first empirical evidence that the usage of bikeways (or greenways) by bicyclists within an urban environment can significantly reduce uptake of dangerous traffic-related gas pollutants. Dynamic concentration and respiration data reveal unfavorable correlations from a health impacts perspective, where bicyclists’ respiration and travel time are greater at higher-concentration locations on already high-concentration roadways (arterials).

Bio: Alex Bigazzi is a Ph.D. candidate in Transportation Engineering at PSU, where he is also teaching a class on transportation emissions modeling. His dissertation investigates how urban...

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Event Date:
Jan 31, 2014
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Summary: Since about 2008, the planning world has been experiencing a paradigm shift that began in places like California and Oregon that have adopted legislation requiring the linking of land use and transportation plans to outcomes, specifically to the reduction of greenhouse gases (GHGs). In response to this need, Calthorpe Associates has developed a new planning tool, called UrbanFootprint, on a fully Open Source platform (i.e. Ubuntu Linux, PostGIS, PostGreSQL, etc.). As a powerful and dynamic web and mobile-enabled geo-spatial scenario creation and modeling tool with full co-benefits analysis capacity, UrbanFootprint has great utility for urban planning and research at multiple scales, from general plans, to project assessments, to regional and state-wide scenario development and analysis. Scenario outcomes measurement modules include: a powerful ‘sketch’ transportation model that produces travel and emissions impacts; a public health analysis engine that measures land use impacts on respiratory disease, obesity, and related impacts and costs; climate-sensitive building energy and water modeling; fiscal impacts analysis; and greenhouse gas and other emissions modeling.

Bio: Garlynn Woodsong is a Project Manager in the regional and large-scale master planning team at Calthorpe...

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Event Date:
Jan 17, 2014
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Moore Presentation (PDF)

Ma Presentation (PDF)

Summaries: 
Identification and Characterization of PM2.5 and VOC Hot Spots on Arterial Corridor by Integrating Probe Vehicle, Traffic, and Land Use Data: The purpose of this study is to explore the use of integrated probe vehicle, traffic and land use data to identify and characterize fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and volatile organic compound (VOC) hot spot locations on urban arterial corridors. An emission hot spot is defined as a fixed location along a corridor in which the mean pollutant concentrations are consistently above the 85th percentile of pollutant concentrations when considering all other locations along the corridor during the same time period. In order to collect data for this study, an electric vehicle was equipped with instruments designed to measure PM2.5 and VOC concentrations. Second-by-second measurements were performed for each pollutant from both the right and left sides of the vehicle. Detailed meteorological, traffic and land use data is also available for this research. The results of a statistical analysis are used to better understand which...

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For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing travel corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution.

In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South). Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the university has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

"This is the first study to document important effects of light rail transit on traffic volumes,” said Reid Ewing, professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah and lead author on the study. “Since the University TRAX line opened, there has been increased development in the 400/500 South travel corridor, yet traffic on the street has actually declined. Our calculations show that without the University TRAX line, there would be at least 7,300 more cars per day on 400/500 South, and possibly as many as 21,700 additional cars. The line avoids gridlock, as well as saves an additional 13 tons of toxic air pollutants. This is important knowledge for shaping future transportation policies.”

Andrew Gruber, executive director of the...

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Content Type: News Item

OTREC researchers and students from the Oregon Institute of Technology have teamed up with Green Lite Motors to test a next-generation hybrid car.

Green Lite Motors, a clean-tech start-up company based in Portland, Ore., has developed a small, three-wheeled, gas-electric hybrid vehicle based on the platform of a Suzuki Burgman scooter.

The vehicle is classed as a motorcycle, and has all the advantages of the smaller vehicle — it doesn’t take up a whole parking space, and it gives off fewer emissions — but it also has an advanced roll-cage design, giving it the safety and comfort of a standard passenger car. It has two wheels in the front, one in the back, and mileage possibilities greater than 100 miles per gallon.

The target market areas for this two-passenger vehicle are urban commute zones, where large numbers of people travel daily from suburban homes to city-based professions. 

The tiny hybrid car could change the commuting experience, minimizing gas expenditure and cutting down the time people spend looking for parking.

Green Lite has developed two prototypes.

The...

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Portland State University engineering doctoral student Alex Bigazzi has developed a new course aimed at giving transportation engineers experience running emissions models. The course, Transportation Emissions Modeling, is offered through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The practical nature of the course sets it apart from the few emissions courses offered at other universities, Bigazzi said. “Those tend to be on the policy side or the environmental side,” he said. “This is unique in trying to help engineers more than policymakers or future policymakers.”

The course fits with both Bigazzi’s own experience and Portland State’s faculty research strength in emissions and modeling. The university already offers an air quality course, but Bigazzi’s offering focuses narrowly on emissions from motor vehicles.

Students spent the first half of the inaugural course learning context for the models, including when they are used and what they can do. “There are federal requirements to do these models for all serious transportation projects,” Bigazzi said. “People need to understand what goes into them and how accurate they can be.”

Because emissions models aren’t as complex mathematically as other models, and...

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At age 8, Taras Grescoe decided that his Vancouver, B.C., residential street had too many cars chugging past. So he removed them.

“I completely redesigned our city block and modeled with Monopoly hotels what it would look like without cars,” Grescoe said. “I was this 8-year-old urban planning geek in the making.”

While his career took a different path, those early transportation experiences shaped a worldview Grescoe outlines in his latest book, “Straphanger.” Grescoe will present his observations as the keynote speaker for the Oregon Transportation Summit Sept. 16.

Register for the summit through the following link:
http://otrec.us/events/subpage/OTS/page1

The author of nonfiction essays and books including “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood” Grescoe is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Independent and National Geographic Traveler and has written for Gourmet, Salon and Wired.

If moving from a walkable neighborhood in Toronto to a...

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An OTREC project recently took an in-depth look at the travel-time and health-related effects of a new implementation of a state of the art adaptive traffic system.

Southeast Powell Boulevard is a multimodal urban corridor connecting highway US-26 through Portland, Oregon. The corridor is highly congested during morning and evening peak traffic hours. In October 2011, an adaptive traffic system called SCATS was deployed.

The primary function of SCATS, or Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System, is to mitigate traffic congestion. Using sensors (usually inductive loops) at each traffic signal, the system tries to find the best cycle time and phasing along the corridor as traffic demand patterns change.

In this integrated multimodal study, OTREC researchers looked at the corridor’s traffic speed and transit reliability, before and after the implementation of SCATS. In addition, a novel contribution of this study was to study the link between signal timing and air quality.

To determine the impact of SCATS on traffic and transit performance, researchers established and measured performance measures before and after SCATS. The researchers used data provided by TriMet, Portland's transit authority, to compare transit times before and after SCATS as well as traffic volume data from two Wavetronix units that were installed by the City of Portland; these units collect traffic counts, speeds and classifications. For the air quality study, TriMet also...

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A new transportation class at the University of Oregon, launched in January 2013 and funded by grants from OTREC and NITC, by all accounts had a wonderful first term.

Conceived as part of the curriculum for the Oregon Leadership in Sustainability (OLIS) program at U of O, the course, titled Sustainable Transportation, will be a permanent part of the OLIS class roster and will be open to all graduate students at the university.

The class this winter, led by instructors Ann Scheerer and Larisa Varela, taught applied research in a real-world setting. Students worked on planning projects for the university and for its home community, the City of Eugene, Ore.

On March 20, 2013, U of O's Transportation and Livability Student Group, LiveMove, hosted a public event where students were invited to present their research and interested community members were invited to attend.

The day of the presentations in Eugene was exciting; the “icing on the cake” for Scheerer. Marc Schlossberg, OTREC/NITC executive committee member at U of O and faculty advisor for LiveMove, was there, and so were some professors from the planning department, staff from the sustainability office, and quite a few local transportation advocates.

Scheerer, a PhD candidate...

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OTREC research associate John MacArthur, in partnership with Drive Oregon, has been awarded a grant from Metro.

The grant is part of a $2.1 million effort by Metro to improve air quality and community health.

With the Metro grant, Drive Oregon and MacArthur plan to conduct a study of consumer perception and use of electric bicycles, pedal-bikes that provide extra propulsion from a rechargeable battery.

The idea is to see whether having the use of an e-bike will persuade non-bicycle-commuters to use a bike for the “first and last mile” of their daily commute; for example, to get from their workplace to the nearest MAX light rail station.

The e-bikes provided in the study will be foldable for convenient carrying onto the train. Ultimately, the partners of this study hope to increase the percentage of people who commute by bicycle and light rail, thus contributing to overall community health by reducing automobile emissions.

30 e-bikes will be loaned to 180 employees of Kaiser Permanente, at three designated work locations. Each participant will have the free use of an e-bike for one month, bookended by surveys about their expectations and perceptions of the experience.

MacArthur is conducting some overlapping research into e-bike use in a related OTREC...

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