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Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.

How long is too long to wait for the light to change? At stoplights, pedestrians often experience longer delays while cars are given priority.

To design traffic signals that serve the needs of walkers, planners must understand the motivations behind pedestrian behaviors.

Working with professors Kelly Clifton and Christopher MonsereSirisha Kothuri of Portland State University created a survey designed to shed some light on what makes pedestrians decide to follow, or not follow, traffic laws.

To collect data, Kothuri and a team of graduate students armed with an 11-question survey posted themselves at four different intersections in northeast Portland, Ore.

Two of the intersections had recall signals, where pedestrians are automatically detected, and the other two had actuated signals, where pedestrians must press a button to get the light to change.

Survey respondents were asked for their attitudes about delay in signal timing, and for the reasons that determined their crossing the street.

Responses showed that pedestrians were more content...

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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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Most people in transportation circles have heard all about the Netherlands as a bicyclist’s mecca, a place where thirty-five percent of the population regularly commutes by bike. What may be less commonly known is how recent this achievement is.

In 1967, bicycling in the Netherlands was “tantamount to attempting suicide,” according to Amsterdam’s chief inspector of traffic police.

Today, the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to operate a bicycle, based on injury and fatality rates per miles traveled. In less than fifty years, their bicycle safety rates have soared and the Dutch have built a bicycle infrastructure that is the envy of the rest of the world. How did they do it? 

Could Americans possibly do the same?

That’s what Portland State University transportation students aim to find out.

When PSU student Kirk Paulsen signed up to spend two weeks in the Netherlands as part of the first PSU civil engineering study abroad program, he wasn’t sure what exactly he might get out of it, but knew that he wanted to see famed Dutch bicycling facilities for himself. Paulsen was one of seven transportation students in the pilot class of 2011, and now has this to say about the experience:

“This short study abroad course is by far your best opportunity while enrolled at PSU to observe real world...

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Portland, Oregon is known for being a bike city, even called America's Best Bike City by Bicycling Magazine, so it's no surprise at all that Portland State University is full of bike enthusiasts.

Nowhere was that more clearly demonstrated than in Seattle last week, when 14 students and faculty from Portland State turned up to present their research at the International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium.
 
The Symposium, held on June 19-22 at the University of Washington, explored ways to plan cities around biking. There were international plenary panelists from China, The Netherlands, and New Zealand to offer a look at urban cycling around the world, and a mixture of research into bike-related planning efforts in the United States. 
 
Portland State was there in full force. Faculty researchers Jennifer Dill and John MacArthur presented research on the use of e-bikes in the United States, and what this could mean for the bicycle mode share.
 
PSU professor Miguel Figliozzi outlined ways of modeling the effects of weather on cycling ridership; a particularly relevant factor in the rainy Pacific Northwest....
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Sirisha Kothuri, an OTREC scholar for the past two years and a current Ph.D. candidate at Portland State University, has been awarded one of NITC'S 2013 dissertation fellowships.

The $15,000 fellowship -- funded through an ISS (Institute for Sustainable Solutions) grant -- along with an $800 OTREC/NITC scholarship for the 2012-2013 academic year, will assist Kothuri with her research into pedestrian signal timing.

Sirisha was born and raised in Hyderabad, India, and still misses the heat — or at least, the warmth; she has yet to become completely acclimated to Portland, Ore weather. In Hyderabad she obtained a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from Osmania University in 1999. She moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1999 to get a Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at Louisiana State University.

A visit to Illinois for her brother's graduation opened her eyes to the automobile-centric cities that make up much of the United States. She was surprised at some of the infrastructure in the Midwest, which decidedly favors cars over pedestrian and other means of active transport.

Walking plays a significant role in the development of healthy,...

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OTREC at Portland State University is pleased to announce the 2013 OTREC/NITC scholars.

Each year, OTREC and NITC recognize outstanding students, awarding them scholarships to further their work on transportation projects.

This year's scholarship winners tackle a range of projects, including long-range visions on how to improve equity in transportation, plans for proposed facility upgrades at specific locations, investigations into new ways to strengthen pavement, and the development of advanced technologies to assist the flow of transportation in the real world.

 
Arlie Adkins, a Ph.D. student at Portland State University (PSU), is surveying recent movers to learn that people of low-income households often find it harder to live in areas that are friendly to active transportation: many of the "walkable" neighborhoods are now premium real estate, so accessibility becomes inaccessible.
 
Dustin Hirata and Kyler Weisenback, seniors in the Computer Engineering Technology Department at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT), are developing a software application for the collection of intersection turning movement counts for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Their application will be deployed on...
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Each year, Portland State University’s MURP, or Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning, program hosts a public presentation to showcase the work of its graduating master’s students. Students who graduate with a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning spend the last two terms of their program collaborating on workshop projects, completing planning tasks for local clients or business organizations.

This year’s presentations took place on Wednesday, attended by a crowd of about a hundred PSU students, professors, MURP clients and community members. Six groups presented their projects. Some of the projects were transportation-focused, especially one titled "Lombard Re-Imagined."

Swift Planning Group, composed of members Kathryn Doherty-Chapman, Zef Wagner, Brian Hurley, Jake Warr, Rebecca Hamilton, and Jodi Jacobson-Swartfager, developed a plan to improve Lombard Street, a key transportation corridor in North Portland.

The challenge facing the group had to do with the many roles that Lombard street plays. The street is both an arterial throughway and a state highway. It is an overdimensional freight route, for trucks that are too big to go anywhere else in North Portland, and it has also been designated as a main street in Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept. The various...

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An OTREC research project recently took a look at gusset plate connections, the riveted plates of sheet metal that hold steel truss bridges together.

These connective plates have come to the attention of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), because in 2007 the collapse of the Interstate-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was the result of a failed gusset plate.

After the collapse, which killed 13 people and injured 145, the FHWA issued a set of guidelines for load rating — or determining the weight-bearing capacity — of gusset plates.

Historically, only bridge truss members were considered for load rating during safety inspections. Gusset plates were thought to be reliable based on conservative assumptions employed during their design.

For more details, click here to download the final report or visit the project page.

Roughly 20,000 steel bridges in the United States are classified as non-load-path-redundant, or fracture critical, bridges. This means that the failure of a single truss member or connection could lead to collapse.

The problem, says the project's lead investigator Christopher Higgins, happens when a plate goes out of plane. It’s supposed to be perfectly flat, but with too much load put on...

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When planning their daily commute, most drivers account for the traffic they know is unavoidable: at peak times of day, like morning and afternoon rush hour, they probably allow extra time to get where they’re going.

The delays that are harder to accept are the unexpected ones, when accidents, road work, or a traffic bottleneck turn a thirty minute trip into an hour.

This unpredictable postponement leads to natural frustration on the part of drivers, as it may cause them to be late to work or late picking up children from school. A reliable road network is one in which this is a rare occurrence.

A project led by Portland State University’s Miguel Figliozzi explored the value of this travel-time reliability using a study of commuters’ route choice behavior, taking a look at the trade-offs between reliability, traffic congestion, and air pollution.

The details for the combined project can be found here.

In the first phase of the research, co-investigators David Levinson and Kathleen Harder of the University of Minnesota sought to measure the route choices drivers made in a real-world setting. Instead of just having people fill out a survey about whether they would choose to take major roads or the freeway to work, this study ambitiously placed GPS units in the cars of...

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Graduate student researcher Alex Bigazzi, of Portland State University, will present his work in Vietnam next week.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is hosting a transportation workshop in Ho Chi Minh city. The opportunity for Bigazzi to attend is the result of a spontaneous connection he made recently at a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, where he was giving a paper on truck-specific traffic management.

Large trucks contribute a large share of emissions, especially when traveling at a slow crawl through heavy traffic. Bigazzi’s work explores ways to mitigate the effects of this traffic congestion on air quality.

Bigazzi presented two papers at the 54th Annual Transportation Research Forum, which took place March 21-23 in Annapolis. One of them, “The Emissions Benefits of Truck-Only Lane Management,” offers a better understanding of the impacts of congestion on heavy-duty vehicles.

After a question-and-answer exchange, he was invited to present the same research in Vietnam’s largest city.

APEC’s 37th Transportation Working Group Meeting will take place April 8th through the 12th, 2013, at a Sheridan...

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