Event Date:
Apr 18, 2014
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Transportation and Road Weather

Where: Room 204 of the Distance Learning Center Wing of the Urban Center at PSU
Speaker: Rhonda Young, University of Wyoming
Topic: Transportation and Road Weather

Summary: Weather has a tremendous impact on the transportation system and is one of the largest contributors to non-recurring delay and increased crashes.  Road weather is the a multidisciplinary area involving transportation engineers and meteorologists who are working to mitigate the negative effects of weather on the operation and maintenance practices of transportation systems.  The talk covers the broad types of issues being studied in this field and looks at ways in which technology is playing a large part in the proposed solutions.  The issue of weather as a complicating factor in the use of connected and autonomous vehicle technologies  is also discussed.

Bio: Rhonda Young is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering at the University of Wyoming since 2002 and teaches graduate and undergraduate classes in Traffic Operations, Transportation Planning, Transportation Design and Traffic Safety.  She completed her master and PhD...

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(First published by BikePortland.org)

Sue Groth’s job: use math and millions of dollars to stop injuries before they happen.

The team Groth leads at the Minnesota Department of Transportation has probably saved a few hundred lives over the last 10 years. In that time they’ve reinvented “highway safety” spending and seen traffic fatalities fall almost twice as fast as they have in Oregon and the rest of the country.

Groth is the plenary speaker at the Sept. 15 Oregon Transportation Summit hosted by OTREC at Portland State University. Michael Andersen of BikePortland spoke to her last week to talk about MnDOT’s daring decision to give up some of the “gobs of money” it gets for highway safety and hand it to local agencies instead.

What’s the nature of your work on the safety movement called Vision Zero, also known as Toward Zero Deaths?
My state happened to be one of the first to adopt it. We have had a program for over 10 years now and have had some pretty good success. We don’t have to accept the fact that 400 people a year die on the roads in Minnesota, or 33,000 nationally.

400?
Oh, I’d better give you a precise number: 387. Minnesota’s had great success. One year we actually got down to 368.

(Editor’s note: 387, it turns...

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Event Date:
Nov 21, 2014
Content Type: Professional Development Event

The video begins at 1:11.

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Summary: The most recent edition of the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) contains analysis procedures for measuring the level-of-service (LOS), also referred to as quality of service, provided by an urban roadway to bicyclists. The method uses different design and operating features of the roadway segment (e.g. width, motor vehicle volumes and speeds) to assess an LOS grade of A (best) to F (worst). These procedures are used by planners and engineers to recommend how existing streets could be retrofitted or new streets designed to better serve people on bicycles (and other modes). However, the current HCM does not include methods that address protected bike lanes (aka “cycle tracks” or “separated bike lanes”), only conventional striped bike lanes, shoulders, and shared streets. There are other methods for predicting comfort from a bicyclist’s perspective that do consider protected bike lanes, but they are either based only on expert opinion or on surveys in Denmark.

This presentation will describe how to evaluate the level-of-service of a protected bike lane using results from surveys conducted in the United States. The model developed by this project could be used to supplement the current HCM to objectively consider a wider range...

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What is the highest number of deaths and serious injuries we should accept from our transportation system? For transportation agencies who have long sought to reduce traffic fatalities, a movement to eliminate them completely has gained currency.

This year’s Oregon Transportation Summit brings a strong safety theme, including plenary session and morning and afternoon workshops. Registration for the summit officially opens today.

Register or learn more about the summit, which takes place Monday, Sept. 15.

The 2014 Oregon Transportation Summit opens with a plenary session titled “Envisioning Vision Zero.” Vision Zero is the approach, initiated in Sweden, to not accept deaths or serious injuries as a tradeoff for other goals of the road network. In the United States, a national effort called Toward Zero Deaths grew out of these principles.   

Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths has been a leader among state programs, working with partners across jurisdictions and service categories across the state to address roadway deaths and injuries. Sue Groth oversees this effort as the state traffic engineer and director of the Office of Traffic, Safety and Technology for the Minnesota Department of Transportation....

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A team of students from Portland State University took second place this week in the Cornell Cup USA, with a traffic hazard predictor called SAFE.
SAFE, or Situational Awareness Fault?Finder Extension, is an intelligent device that could be used with bicycles, motorcycles, or automobiles, though it was created with the safety of two-wheeled travelers in mind.
The device is designed to enhance a vehicle operator's situational awareness. It tracks the movement of vehicles behind the user, monitoring their position, velocity, and acceleration.
 
Click here to see the SAFE team's poster.
The SAFE creators considered giving the user an overhead representation of the surrounding traffic, with color-coded alerts to signify approaching danger, but felt that that might be too distracting. Citing research that showed that people react more quickly to audio than visual cues, they decided to give the user feedback through stereo audio. 
The device sends a periodic beep to alert the user of impending accidents from the rear. It modulates the stereo, tempo, and amplitude to indicate...
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Generally, public transit is safer than other personal travel modes. However, not all transit modes are created equal: compared with other forms of transit, buses have a higher safety incident rate.
 
For example, while buses in fixed route service accounted for 39% of the transit industry’s passenger miles in 2009, their associated casualty and liability costs accounted for 51% of the industry total. In 2010 TriMet, the Portland, Oregon region’s transit provider, formed a safety task force to review its bus operations.
The task force recommended that TriMet develop a comprehensive performance monitoring program to better integrate safety in its planning practices. Like other urban transit providers, TriMet was already sending safety performance information to the Federal Transit Administration’s National Transit Database. The task force recommended seeking a deeper understanding of the types of incidents that are occurring, and of when, where, and why they occur. The task force also recommended that operators complete a recertification program annually to ensure that safe driving practices remain fresh. 
In addition to keeping operators current on their safety training, the annual recertification program presented researchers with a unique opportunity to gain a firsthand perspective of the safety risks that bus operators encounter on a daily basis. Thus a survey of operator...
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The Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, pegged as one of Portland’s high-crash corridors, already attracted the attention of city officials worried about safety. They got more help from Portland State University students during the recently completed term.

Students from civil engineering professor Christopher Monsere’s transportation safety analysis course formed six groups, each studying a piece of the corridor. They presented their findings and recommendations during the course’s open house March 19. The presentation drew officials from local agencies interested in improving corridor safety, including the city of Portland, the TriMet transit agency and the Metro regional government.

The student work dovetails with the city’s own examination of the highway corridor, completed in February. In some cases, as with the Shattuck Road intersection, the students came to many of the same conclusions as city officials, said Wendy Cawley, traffic safety engineer with the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Both found that narrowing the crossing distance could make that intersection safer for pedestrians.

One group looked at the Hillsdale area, recommending a “road diet” approach and other livability-minded changes. While it’s “probably a little more than the city will be able to recommend and handle,” Cawley said, the work has inspired neighborhood...

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When engineers focus on transportation systems, they often produce brilliant solutions. Sometimes, however, they focus in the wrong place.

 “Engineers are really good; if you tell them, ‘This is what we want to accomplish,’ they’ll do it,” said Peter Jacobsen, himself an engineer and a public health consultant. “But traffic safety hasn’t had a good scientific, evidence-based approach that we have in, say, nuclear-power-plant design.”

Jacobsen, Portland State University’s first visiting scholar this school year, will present the Vision Zero concept at Friday’s transportation seminar. Vision Zero resets the goal of transportation systems from reducing total crashes to eliminating fatalities.

“The way engineers currently look at the road system is to look at crashes,” Jacobsen said. “Vision Zero folks say to look at health: not to have fatalities or permanent disabling injuries.”

Designing for health means respecting the limits of the human body. If crossing into oncoming traffic could produce head-on collisions with a greater force than people could survive, then Vision Zero says to separate that traffic. Roundabouts reduce the likelihood of dangerous side-impact collisions.

Vision Zero could have the largest effect closer to home. Jacobsen has pushed for colleagues to consider traffic from a child’s perspective. A residential street that might be perfectly...

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