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Content Type: Blog entry

Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Professor, Urban Studies & Planning
Director, TREC

University transportation research often follows a typical pattern. You write a proposal and it gets funded. You engage some bright graduate students and hopefully community partners. Collect data. Analyze data. Draw conclusions. Most projects take at least a year, often 2-3 years. It takes longer for the results to get out in a peer-review journal or final report. That can sometimes be frustrating.

The purpose of this blog is to allow our TREC researchers to present their research in a different forum. This can allow us to share early results or findings that are interesting, but may not make it into the journal article. We can also reflect on and discuss how our work relates to current events or public debates, without the constraints of academic journals. We’ll cover a wide range of topics that reflects the breadth of what we’re doing at Portland State. You’ll hear from faculty, researchers, and graduate students. We hope you enjoy it.

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Portland State University has earned a reputation for innovative transportation programs that span multiple disciplines, all in service of livable communities. That expertise is now available in a single place through the newly renamed TREC, Portland State’s transportation research and education center.  

Growing out of OTREC, TREC is the steward of Portland State’s participation in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s University Transportation Centers program. The program has awarded Portland State more than $30 million since 2006, with a nonfederal match requirement amplifying the effect of the federal investment and touching more community partners. 

The new website, trec.pdx.edu, lets visitors search for transportation research and researchers across campus by topic or browse by research area. 

With leadership from Rep. Peter DeFazio, OTREC was founded in 2006 as a four-campus consortium and expanded into a broader transportation center. The original OTREC grant ran until 2014, funding 237 research, education and technology transfer projects. In addition to carrying on this legacy, TREC also:

  • Builds on the Center for Transportation Studies, established in 1966. The longstanding ...
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OTREC hosted a “welcome to the neighborhood” reception last week for managers of TriMet.

The regional transit provider for Portland, Ore, just relocated its offices to a building near the OTREC headquarters. TriMet's arrival in Harrison Square, just a few blocks from PSU in downtown Portland, was toasted by an informal gathering: TriMet executives were invited to the OTREC offices Tuesday, Oct 29 for a meet-and-greet.

The two agencies are both deeply involved with transportation in the Portland region, and since they're going to be neighbors now too, OTREC's education and technology transfer program manager Jon Makler arranged the event.

Several members of TriMet's senior staff joined OTREC staff and researchers for an hour of refreshments, research briefings, and a few rounds of "Transit Route Bingo."

OTREC Director Jennifer Dill and TriMet's Olivia Clark, head of government relations, kicked off the meeting with some welcoming remarks, then Makler gave the TriMet managers a brief powerpoint presentation, explaining the various overlapping areas of transportation at PSU. He introduced them to OTREC, IBPI, and PORTAL, and the role each group plays.

The presentation also featured a slide for each faculty researcher, explaining their areas of special interest and...

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OTREC had visitors on Wednesday, July 24.

A delegation of six ECTRI directors from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, and Finland are finishing up a "Scanning Tour" of the United States, and OTREC was the third stop on their four-stop tour.

The European Conference of Transport Research Institutes, or ECTRI, is an international non-profit organization. Its members are 26 major transport research institutes or universities from 19 European countries, and its mission is to help build the "European Research Area" (ERA) in transport.

The 2013 Scanning Tour's theme is "Transport and Liveability: Sustainabiity of urban areas." Assisted by the Transportation Research Board, ECTRI made four stops in the USA: Washington, D.C., to participate in the TRB conference; Cambridge and Boston, Mass. for a visit to Volpe and to MIT's freight lab; Portland, Ore., to talk with Jennifer Dill and John MacArthur about OTREC's sustainable transportation program; and finally Davis, Calif., to visit the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Davis.

Wednesday's visit was brief and pleasant. OTREC staff gave the delegation a presentation about the work that OTREC does and its sustainable cities initiative, followed by questions...

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The USDOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) 7thAnnual UTC Spotlight Conference on Sustainable Energy and Transportation: Strategies, Research, and Data was held on November 8-9 in Washington, DC and featured OTREC energy related research from Portland State University and Oregon State University. This year’s conference focused on promoting dialogue and coordination among University Transportation Centers (UTCs), federal agencies, industry, and state and local agencies on research to address the complex and challenging issues concerning sustainable energy and transportation. The plenary and breakout sessions focused on research to improve energy efficiency, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and identify of effective strategies to promote USDOT's strategic goals. As the U.S. moves toward a performance-based transportation bill, energy-focused environmental sustainability is expected to become one of the pillars against which success is measured if it is to become a national priority.

Dr. B. Starr McMullen, Oregon State University, took part on a plenary panel discussion on the interconnection of energy use, pricing and finance and highlighted two OTREC funded projects The Relationship Between VMT and Economic Activity and...

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When policymakers look to meet cycling goals by investing in new bicycle routes, they have little research to help them determine whether cyclists will actually use them. As a result, bicycle facilities aren’t considered equally with motor vehicle infrastructure.

That’s changing, thanks in part to OTREC research. An OTREC-funded study, the first to gather large-scale data that reveal cyclists’ actual route preference, is being published in a scientific journal (Transportation Research Part A). The findings have already been incorporated into the regional travel demand model used to make transportation investment decisions across the Portland region.

In the study, Portland State University researchers Joseph Broach, Jennifer Dill and John Gliebe (Gliebe is now with RSG Inc.) outfitted cyclists with GPS units to record which routes they chose and model the choices to reveal preferences. Previous studies have relied on stated preference surveys or less reliable methods of determining cyclists’ actual routes. The data gathering was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through its national program Active Living Research.

The research...

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A project to create more miles of protected bike lanes in American cities, which launched this week, turned to OTREC researchers for the project’s research component. The Green Lane Project invited the researchers to Chicago for the project launch.

The Green Lane Project, a project of the Bikes Belong Foundation, chose six cities to serve as pilot sites for new designs and approaches to creating comfortable, separated bike routes such as cycle tracks, which may or may not be painted green. Being part of the project will enable the cities to share their experiences, get help with communication and coordinate with federal, state and local agencies.

The six cities are Austin, Texas; Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; San Fransicso; and Washington, D.C.

Portland State University researchers Chris Monsere, Kelly Clifton and OTREC Director Jennifer Dill went to Chicago for the launch and to meet potential research partners. They shared their research approach with representatives from the six cities.

After performing similar evaluations of bicycle facilities in Portland and Washington, D.C., the Portland State researchers are proposing to fine-tune and apply their methodology to the six project cities. The team would assess the safety, operations economic effects,...

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Staff from OTREC at Portland State University toured three partner campuses to prepare for the first round of projects under the National Institute for Transportation and Communities program, or NITC. Portland State, the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Utah teamed up for the program, funded with a $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The University of Utah was the first to receive a visit, March 19-20, in Salt Lake City. There, NITC executive committee member Keith Bartholomew hosted tours and meetings. Staff met with student representatives from various disciplines and with potential researchers from across campus before meeting potential community partners at the Utah Transit Authority offices. OTREC finance and communications staff members met with their University of Utah counterparts.

The meetings marked the first connection for much of the Utah faculty and OTREC staff. While the University of Oregon and Oregon Tech were already partners under the original OTREC grant, the NITC program marks Portland State and Utah’s first formal collaboration under the federal University Transportation Centers program.

On April 9, staff met with current and potential transportation researchers at the University of Oregon along with...

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For rapid transportation mode-share changes, it’s hard to beat Kunming, China, where OTREC Director Jennifer Dill is visiting this week. In recent years, car and transit trips have quadrupled. Bicycling, which used to account for more than half of trips, now makes up less than a quarter.

Dill is with a team visiting Kunming as part of the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization program.The visit is led by professor Connie Ozawa, director of Portland State University's Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies & Planning (TSUSP), and includes: professor Yiping Fang; practitioner-in-residence Gill Kelley, former planning director of the city of Portland; Dean Marriott, city of Portland’s director of environmental services; and Jianhong Ye, a post-doctorate fellow at TSUSP.

The team participated in a workshop with over 50 planners from the region, sharing information on how Portland plans for sustainability. The visit is hosted by the Energy Foundation and the city of Kunming.

Like many cities in China, Jennifer Dill, Kunming, China presentationKunming is facing tremendous growth pressures and increasing motorization. Between 1995 and 2011, car ownership went up from 20 cars per 1,000 people to 150 per 1,000. As a result, the...

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The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Portland State University $3.5 million for research and education on sustainable transportation topics, the department announced today. The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC), the university transportation center based at PSU, will administer the grant.

OTREC, a partnership between PSU, the University of Oregon and the Oregon Institute of Technology, will join with the University of Utah to carry out the grant. This award reaffirms OTREC’s evolution into one of the nation’s leading transportation livability research centers and provides the resources to address national problems strategically.

Research and educational programs under the grant will focus on the following topics:

  • Improving health and safety for all users
  • Increasing the efficiency and understanding of cycling, walking and transit
  • Making the best use of data, performance measures and analytical tools
  • Integrating multimodal transportation with land use
  • Taking long-term action on transportation emissions and climate change.

PSU was one of 63 applicants for 22 grants. The grant competition challenged university transportation center leaders to demonstrate the ability and experience to produce the country’s best transportation research and educational programs. “In five years, OTREC has advanced the state of research on topics such as the connections between transportation...

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