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Recently OTREC took a look at suburbia to see how many people were walking and biking to local destinations.
Traditionally, studies of suburban locations have found that due to the low density of suburban areas and their single-land-use patterns, active transportation is rare.
In a research project by Principal Investigator Nico Larco and Co-Investigator Robert Parker, of the University of Oregon, active transportation was found to be more common than expected in suburban areas with commercial strip destinations.
In their project “Overlooked Destinations: Suburban Nodes, Centers, and Trips to Strips,” Larco and Parker observed active travel behaviors around typical suburban commercial sites. They examined six strip malls -- four in Portland, Ore. and two in Atlanta, Ga. -- to map out the “pedshed,” or walkable zone surrounding these sites.
Investigators were surprised by what they found.
For each site, they created detailed pedestrian-network GIS maps. They compared the network extents of maps that included only publicly available, street centerline data with maps that included pedestrian...
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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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The Ann Niles Transportation Lecture series opens Aug. 26 with a lecture from Jean-François Pronovost of Vélo Québec titled "Growing a World-Class Cycling Culture: Lessons from Québec." The series is sponsored by the Ann Niles Transportation Lecture Endowment and serves as a legacy to Ann Niles, an advocate for livable neighborhoods.

Philip Niles created the endowment with a gift to the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, or IBPI, in honor of his late wife. Ann Niles was a strong advocate for livable neighborhoods and served on many transportation-related boards and committees in Portland.

The lecture series keeps alive the spirit of Ann Niles' advocacy. Niles pushed for better sidewalks and crosswalks to make Portland a safe and comfortable place to walk, and for bicycle routes and parking to do the same for bicycling.

"This inaugural Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, and all those that follow, help spread Ann's passion for creating livable neighborhoods to students, practitioners and the greater community," said OTREC Director Jennifer Dill.

The series' first speaker, Pronovost, has helped bring active transportation into the lives of people in communities across Québec. As vice president for development and public affairs for Vélo Québec, he helps develop new projects and partnerships.

One of the most notable...

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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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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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Flashing-yellow-arrow traffic signals offer convenience for drivers by permitting them to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic. This convenience, OTREC research has found, can come at the expense of safety, especially where the traffic mix includes pedestrians.

OTREC researchers David Hurwitz of Oregon State University and Christopher Monsere of Portland State University examined how driver behaviors affect pedestrian safety at flashing yellow arrows. Their findings show that drivers at these intersections often don’t even look for pedestrians.

This research will be the focus of OTREC’s first live interview-style Webinar May 7. Host Steph Routh of Oregon Walks will interview the researcher-practitioner team, explore real-world applications and take audience questions. The Webinar is free. Details are at this link:

Flashing-yellow-arrow Webinar

Flashing yellow arrows have been replacing other left-turn signals, such as solid green or flashing yellow or red circles, to indicate that drivers may turn after yielding to oncoming traffic. These turns are considered “permissive.” Turns where no conflicting traffic is present, such as those indicated with a green arrow, are “protected” turns. The flashing yellow arrow’s inclusion in the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices sped up the signal’s adoption to indicate a permissive...

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Bicycle commuters represent a significant chunk of business consumers in Portland, Ore., one of America's most bike-friendly cities. OTREC research in the past year has provided data on how cyclists and other mode users patronize local businesses.

The final OTREC research report is available on the project pageLead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University also presented her findings at the 2013 Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem.
The research found that bicycle consumers spend as much money, on average, as those who drive, and that local businesses can make an effort to attract this share of the market. The Plaid Pantry convenience store chain, a participant in the research, subsequently installed bike racks at 12 locations to make them more hospitable to cycling consumers, as first reported in a post on the Bike Portland blog.  
 
Efforts to promote active transportation often...
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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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OTREC turned its education efforts on a decidedly younger crowd March 13: sixth graders. A class from Rochester, N.Y., visited Portland on a trip geared toward improving bicycling in their own community.

The students, from Genesee Community Charter School, visited the OTREC offices to learn about active transportation research methods. They took part in group exercises designed to get them thinking about the planning and engineering challenges of transportation systems set up to serve multiple transportation modes.

The highlight of the day came when the students took to Portland’s streets — OTREC’s living laboratory — to conduct research of their own. Armed with bicycle-counter tubes and infrared detectors, students counted cyclists and pedestrians passing on the Broadway cycle track on Portland State University’s campus.

Other students verified the technology with manual counters.

Students moved on to their next stop on a four-day tour of Portland with a better sense of what kind of data researchers collect and how they can use those data to inform policy. Given their experience — the students already have influenced their city on policy ranging from Erie Canal re-watering to an urban art corridor to skate parks — they stand a good chance of using Portland’s lessons to build a bike-friendly Rochester.

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Efforts to promote active transportation often come up against concerns, from business owners, that any shift away from automobile use will mean fewer customers or less revenue.
 
In fact, this research indicates that, for the most part, how much people spend has little to do with what transportation mode they use.
 
Lead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, in a recent project, "Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode Choices," does highlight some key differences between transportation modes. People arriving by bus, bike or on foot average more trips per month to convenience stores, supermarkets, drinking establishments and restaurants than do people arriving by car. They also spend more per month at all types of establishments except supermarkets, where the auto users’ greater spending per trip more than makes up for their fewer trips.
 
Clifton offered some preliminary findings from this...
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