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Seniors make up a large percentage of transit riders, yet their experience isn’t always comfortable or convenient. Researchers from the University of Oregon sought to address those problems from a product design perspective.

Their work was accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. Learn more and download our guide to the conference. 

The work stems from a NITC education project, Design for an Aging Population, led by product design assistant professor Trygve Faste. Faste's design studio course learned about problems that people with disabilities face using transit and developed design solutions. 

Working with the local Lane Transit District, Faste and the student researchers surveyed and interviewed bus riders, held focus groups, accompanied riders on trips and rode as observers. They found that older riders faced obstacles every step of the way: from reaching bus stops to finding seats and riding, to ending their rides. Those obstacles vary between riders and whether they use a walker or wheelchair or have sight, hearing or other disabilities.

Sometimes the needs of riders conflict, Faste pointed out. A wheelchair user may want...

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Historically, large-scale transportation infrastructure projects have had devastating outcomes in communities of color. With twentieth-century urban renewal efforts often came the displacement of underprivileged communities, the loss of low-income neighborhoods and their replacement with affluent housing and freeways.

According to new OTREC research from the University of Oregon, transit-oriented development, or TOD, can offer a different trajectory. Rather than displacing residents, TOD has the potential to improve neighborhoods for the benefit of those who live there.

OTREC researcher Gerardo Sandoval grew up near MacArthur park, one of the two sites studied, and has witnessed firsthand the neighborhood’s dramatic change. “I think the coolest thing about MacArthur Park is that now it’s considered a national model for TOD. When I was growing up there … nobody saw it like that. It was thought of more as a low-income area,” Sandoval said.

The project examined two California neighborhoods: MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, and Fruitvale, in Oakland. In both neighborhoods, the majority of residents are recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America, many of whom have significantly lower incomes and rely heavily on public transportation.

In the last few decades, both sites have seen TOD coincide with neighborhood revitalization, and...

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More attractive streetscapes often lead to an increase in private development, but it can be difficult to visualize future results when they are just potential.

An OTREC Small Starts research project has developed a workflow to create streetscape illustrations for Metro, the regional government for the Portland, Ore. metropolitan area.

Data-driven illustrations that depict planning scenarios are an effective way to communicate to decision makers the results that their investment could bring about. In line with the Oregon Legislature’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, Metro launched the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project in 2011.

As part of this project, Metro has developed investment scenarios designed to reduce light vehicle carbon emissions. These scenarios represent potential improvements to urban centers, corridors and employment areas. Improvements such as providing services and shopping near where people live, expanding transit service, managing parking, and providing safer routes for walking and biking can increase transit ridership, support more active travel modes, and thereby reduce pollution.

Principal Investigator Nancy Cheng of the University of Oregon worked with Metro to create a streamlined process for illustrating the...

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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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University of Oregon Master's student Joe McAndrew was recently awarded an Eno fellowship and invited to participate in the 2013 Eno Leadership Development Conference.

The fellowship is an extraordinary opportunity for students on a career track to become transportation policymakers. Only 20 fellows nationwide are chosen each year, and only one student from each university transportation program can be nominated by their school. McAndrew attended the 21st annual conference in Washington, D.C. from June 2 to 6, all expenses paid.

"It was fabulous," said the second-year planning student from UO. In the course of the four-day conference he was able to attend a variety of panels and events, but said that for him, "the true highlight was just the people that we were able to meet."

Conference attendees included "high-level officials, executive directors from all sectors and levels of government," McAndrew said, "from the freight industry, which included trucks, rail, and port; to the airline industry, to Capitol Hill staffers... we also met with the executive directors from Parsons-Brinckerhoff, AASHTO and the like. It was an all-encompassing opportunity."

The Eno Center for Transportation is a non-partisan "think-tank" that promotes policy innovation in the field of transportation planning....

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A new transportation class at the University of Oregon, launched in January 2013 and funded by grants from OTREC and NITC, by all accounts had a wonderful first term.

Conceived as part of the curriculum for the Oregon Leadership in Sustainability (OLIS) program at U of O, the course, titled Sustainable Transportation, will be a permanent part of the OLIS class roster and will be open to all graduate students at the university.

The class this winter, led by instructors Ann Scheerer and Larisa Varela, taught applied research in a real-world setting. Students worked on planning projects for the university and for its home community, the City of Eugene, Ore.

On March 20, 2013, U of O's Transportation and Livability Student Group, LiveMove, hosted a public event where students were invited to present their research and interested community members were invited to attend.

The day of the presentations in Eugene was exciting; the “icing on the cake” for Scheerer. Marc Schlossberg, OTREC/NITC executive committee member at U of O and faculty advisor for LiveMove, was there, and so were some professors from the planning department, staff from the sustainability office, and quite a few local transportation advocates.

Scheerer, a PhD candidate...

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The American Planning Assocation held its annual conference in Chicago this April.

Two OTREC universities sent students to attend, and OTREC staff member Jon Makler attended the Intelligent Cities "Unconference," which was held on Wednesday, April 17.

In addition to Portland State University graduate student research group Celillo Planning Studio, which won the APA student award for Application of the Planning Process, there were other PSU students who attended just to soak up the conference. Two students from the University of Oregon also attended and created a research poster for the conference.

This year's APA gave some focus to transportation. In addition to Monday, April 15 being themed "Transportation Day: Transforming Cities Through Transportation," there were also a handful of other transportation events including workshops titled "Sustainability Implications for Urban Transportation" and "Transportation Planning in a Changing Climate."

Makler, OTREC’s Education and Technology Transfer Program Manager, said that one of this year's highlights for him was the Unconference: a facilitated, participant-driven meeting which encouraged attendees to explore the ideas they were most interested in talking about. OTREC was one of about 25 organizations to take part in the Unconference.

After...

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OTREC has announced eight winners of the “Small Starts” grant program, which launched last December. These grants, made available through a new OTREC initiative, were intended to fund small projects related to transportation and community development. Any eligible professor at Portland State University, Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, or the Oregon Institute of Technology was invited to apply for a grant.

Priority was given to tenure-track faculty who are untenured, and faculty who have not received an OTREC grant in the past. The Small Starts program was conceived for the benefit of researchers who want the chance to undertake a small project that supports innovations in sustainable transportation through advanced technology, integration of land use and transportation, and healthy communities.

A total of $60,000 was available to be awarded; with no individual award larger than $10,000.

Interested faculty turned in their proposals by January 31, 2013. Here are the winners:

  • Burkan Isgor, Oregon State University:

“Cracking Susceptibility of Concrete Made with Recycled Concrete Aggregates”

  • Donald Truxillo, Portland State University, partnered with ODOT:

“Evaluation of ODOT's Ecodriving Program”

  • Bob Bass, Portland State University, partnered with Drive Oregon:

“Impacts of Electric Vehicle Charging on Electric Power Distribution Systems “

  • Nancy Cheng,...
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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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