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When people talk about Portland, they talk about weather and bicycling. Judging by the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., researchers are looking into the same two things.

Bikes, of course, draw more interest at a transportation conference than in other circles. Here, Portland continues to draw attention: A single day’s poster session featured no less than seven papers that use Portland as a bicycle research laboratory.

The examination of bicycling and weather drew research looks from around the continent. A paper with authors from OTREC and the Institute of Transport Studies at Monash University, Australia, looked at how well different factors, including weather, affect bicycling in Portland, Ore., and Brisbane, Australia.

Light rain, for example, had little effect on bicycling in Portland, said Portland State University’s Miguel Figliozzi, one of the paper’s authors. The drop in ridership was four times as great in Brisbane on drizzly days.

“We’re used to light rain, so the difference is very small in Portland,” Figliozzi said. “In Australia, maybe they are not used to that.”

Geoffrey Rose of Monash University, another author on the paper, said the paper could help transportation decision makers understand and respond to effects of weather on active transportation, particularly as they deal with climate change. “This helps to understand the effects (of weather) on cycling today and what we can do to perhaps...

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Students and faculty researchers from OTREC universities will present 45 papers at the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting Jan. 22 to 26 in Washington, D.C.

The papers, to be presented at 37 separate sessions and poster sessions, stem from transportation research at Portland State University, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. The three universities will send 43 students to the conference.

Alex Bigazzi, a PSU engineering doctoral student, will present his work on topics including congestion and emissions at the conference. Some of that work stems from his master’s thesis, “Roadway Congestion Impacts on Emissions, Air Quality, and Exposure,” with adviser Miguel Figliozzi at PSU. The thesis won this year’s Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award, which will be presented Jan. 21 at the Council of University Transportation Centers awards banquet.

Bigazzi will present another paper, which he wrote with PSU’s Kelly Clifton and Brian Gregor of the Oregon Department of Transportation, that looks at fuel economy for alternative-fuel vehicles in congestion. Titled “Advanced Vehicle Fuel-Speed Curves for Regional Greenhouse Gas Scenario Analysis,” the paper helps Oregon DOT incorporate hybrid, electric and fuel-cell vehicles into its emissions planning model.

While traditional vehicles lose fuel efficiency during congested driving, advanced vehicles don’t suffer from the same effects, according to the paper.  Some even do better in...

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Every day, trucks travel in, out and through Portland delivering the goods that make the city and region’s economy thrive. But urban freight traffic in the Portland metro area has become increasingly congested and unreliable, leading to longer travel times, fewer goods being distributed and more greenhouse gases being emitted. OTREC researchers have worked with commercial vehicle GPS data and freeway traffic sensor data to understand the impact of urban congestion on commercial vehicle fleets and what can be done to reduce congestion.

In “Algorithms to Quantify the Impacts of Congestion on Time-Dependent Real-World Urban Freight Distribution Networks” (Read Paper Here) and “The Impacts of Congestion on Time-definitive Urban Freight Distribution Networks CO2 Emission Levels” (Read Paper Here), OTREC researcher Miguel Figliozzi and his team attempted to quantify and measure the impacts of congestion on freight from a business, as well as environmental perspective. The project team combined time-dependent algorithms, real-world traffic data, and open source software Google Maps to...

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OTREC researchers at Portland State University won the best paper award at the annual Transportation Research Forum for examining the effects of freeway traffic bottlenecks on costs. Graduate student Alex Bigazzi and Miguel Figliozzi, an associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, submitted the paper for the forum, held in March in Long Beach, Calif.

Traffic flows can break down more or less at random as the freeway approaches its capacity. Although drivers pay a high price for bottlenecks both in their time and fuel costs, earlier models have taken an oversimplified look at how the uncertainty associated with how bottlenecks form, and how long they last, affect time and fuel costs. Without incorporating uncertainty, previous models underestimate the impact of congestion and bottlenecks.  The paper, called “A Model and Case Study of the Impacts of Stochastic Capacity on Freeway Traffic Flow Benefits and Costs,” takes into account the range and frequency with which these random or uncertain traffic breakdowns occur.  

Research detailed in the paper stemmed from an OTREC project, Value of Reliability. Figliozzi had considered the concept of reliability for years, even using it in his modeling class as an example on how to analyze the impact of uncertainty and combine diverse datasets and models—traffic, congestion, and emissions—into a cohesive model.

In terms of time and fuel costs, an...

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Fleet managers can benefit from buying electric vehicles under certain conditions, according to a research paper by Portland State University associate professor Miguel Figliozzi. The paper marks OTREC’s first electric vehicle-related research accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

In the paper, set for publication in the Transportation Research Record, Figliozzi presents a vehicle replacement model that compares the benefits of conventional and electric vehicles under various scenarios. Incorporating electric vehicles makes the most sense for heavily used fleets when gasoline prices are high, assuming electric vehicle tax credits continue.

Until their purchase price drops, electric vehicles won’t make financial sense for fleet managers without some incentives. “Tax credits are important, especially at the beginning, given the higher price of EVs,” Figliozzi said. “The federal tax credit is roughly 20 percent of the (Nissan) Leaf’s list price and it makes a difference.”

The model presented in the paper shows that fleets will start to include a few electric vehicles with gas at $4.10 per gallon, assuming the existing tax credits. In heavily used fleets, defined...

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If anyone doubted Detroit could produce a reliable electric car that can be charged at home and make several trips without recharging, the proof was parked in the Oregon Convention Center: a 1917 Detroit Electric. Production of that car, which could travel up to 80 miles on a charge, began in 1907.

The Detroit Electric and conceptual descendents, such as the sporty Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf, served as backdrop to E.V. Road Map 3, a forum to discuss the benefits of electric vehicles and plan for their future. Sponsored by Portland State University and Portland General Electric, the conference came at a turning point for electric vehicles, said John MacArthur, director of OTREC’s Transportation Electrification Initiative.

“Once 2011 hit, we went from the theoretical to the applied,” MacArthur said. “Automakers are rolling out the vehicles, charging stations are popping up, and now they’re starting to be seen and tested.”

Perception remains the largest barrier to wider adoption of electric vehicles, he said. “There’s still this ‘range anxiety’ out there,” that is, people worry if the car has enough juice to get to their destination and back. “But once they drive one, they realize it’s not a big deal.”

That’s because most people don’t drive...

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Miguel Figliozzi, OTREC researcher, has been selected to chair a study group that will assist DEQ in developing a report, including recommendations for legislation regarding truck efficiency, reduced idling, and emissions. This report will be submitted to interim environment and natural resource committees of the Oregon Legislature by October 2010 for their consideration and any possible action during the 2011 legislative session. The 2009 Oregon Legislature adopted House Bill 2186, which directed DEQ to study potential requirements regarding the maintenance or retrofitting of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in order to reduce aerodynamic drag and otherwise reduce greenhouse gas emissions. DEQ also plans to study potential restrictions on engine use by parked commercial vehicles, including but not limited to medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Study group members will work with DEQ staff to report findings and recommendations for legislation to the interim legislative committees on environment and natural resources by October 1, 2010.

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Portland State University faculty and students presented their work at the National Urban Freight Conference (NUFC) in Long Beach, CA October 21-23, 2009. Dr. Miguel Figliozzi presented "Emissions & Energy Minimization Vehicle Routing Problem" and "A Study of Transportation Disruption Causes and Cost in Containerized Maritime Transportation." Also, graduate research assistants Ryan Conrad and Nikki Wheeler presented research projects sponsored by OTREC. Ryan presented "Algorithms and Methodologies to Analyze and Quantify the Impacts of Congestion on Urban Distribution Systems Using Real-world Urban Network Data" and Nikki presented "Analysis of the Impacts of Congestion on Freight Movements in the Portland Metropolitan Area." NUFC brings together researchers and practitioners in the public and private sectors from many disciplines within freight transportation. This conference is the only one of its kind in the US, and brought attendees and presenters from across the US, Canada and Europe.

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OTREC helped sponsor the 50th Annual Forum of the Transportation Research Forum, held in Portland, Oregon March 16-18, 2009. OTREC faculty partner B. Starr McMullen of Oregon State University served as conference chair and OTREC sponsored the Keynote Speaker Daniel McFadden, 2000 Nobel Prize recipient in Economics, who presented “Sociality, Rationality and the Ecology of Choice.” OTREC faculty member Miguel Figliozzi presented “A Study of Transportation Disruption Causes and Costs in Containerized Maritime Transportation,” director Robert Bertini presented “Can Sensors Be Used to Provide Accurate Travel Time Information?,” and chaired a session on “Transportation Measures: Which Ones and How Do We Measure Them?,” PSU student Meead Saberi presented “Evaluating the Factors Affecting Student Travel Mode Choice,” PSU student Alex Bigazzi presented a poster “Adding Sustainability Performance Measures to a Transportation Data Archive,” PSU Student Meead Saberi presented a poster “Does Weather Affect Traffic Flow on Freeways?,” Miguel Figliozzi presented a poster with Kristin Tufte, “Integration and Visualization Challenges and Opportunities for Online Freight Data Mapping,” and PSU student Wei Feng presented a poster “Characteristics of Transitions in Freeway Traffic.” Congratulations to Prof. McMullent, TRF and all participants for a successful conference!

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Drs. Christopher Monsere and Miguel Figliozzi made four presentations at at the North American Travel Monitoring Exhibition & Conference (NATMEC) in Washington D.C., August 6-8, 2008. Professor Monsere presented “Toward Incorporating Arterial Performance Quality in the PORTAL Archived Data User Service,” “Building a WIM Data Archive for Improved Modeling, Design, and Rating” and “Techniques for Establishing and Measuring Data Quality in an Archived Data User Service.” Co-authors included R.L. Bertini, K. Tufte, A. Nichols, M. Berkow and M. Wolfe. Professor Figliozzi presented “Linking Freight Planning and Real-Time Traffic Data to Monitor Freight Performance Measures,” which was co-authored with K. Tufte.

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