Content Type: News Item

Psychology teaches us that implicit biases—attitudes we hold on a level below consciousness, and may not even be aware of—can have a heavy influence on split-second decisions.

In a fast-paced activity like driving, with a lot of moving parts in a complex environment, we make those snap decisions all the time. There are obvious safety implications to this, particularly for the most vulnerable road users.

That’s why TREC researchers are becoming more and more interested in studying implicit bias and social psychology as it relates to transportation behavior.

The latest report from the NITC program, Exploring Drivers’ Attitudes and Behaviors toward Bicyclists: The Effect of Explicit and Implicit Attitudes on Self-Reported Safety Behaviors, is a dissertation by NITC fellow Tara Goddard.

With a focus on driver-cyclist interactions, Goddard dives into the social psychology of roadway interactions and comes up with some interesting takeaways for practitioners and researchers.

Before moving to Portland in 2011 to begin her Ph.D., Goddard was the bicycle/pedestrian coordinator for the City of Davis, California, and says that it’s important to understand...

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While it’s generally accepted that dense, mixed-use development promotes active travel, researchers don’t have a consensus on exactly how, and to what degree, land use determines people’s travel patterns.

NITC’s latest report, Active Travel Behavior and Spatial-Temporal Land Use Mixing, provides some clarity on the topic.

NITC fellow Steven Gehrke focused his dissertation research on transportation-land use interaction, and sees land use mix as a multidimensional construct.

“We can refocus—away from increasing density—and think more about how we configure land uses,” Gehrke said.

According to Gehrke’s research, more density does not necessarily equal more walking. Rather, the complementarity, composition, and configuration of land use types is essential for cultivating walkability.

Gehrke, who graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Portland State University, conducted three empirical studies under his dissertation grant. The first focused on improving measurements of land use mix, introducing a land use mix measurement of the composition and configuration of local land use types.

The second study looked at other smart growth principles, like employment concentration and pedestrian-...

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While bike-sharing systems become increasingly common in American cities, questions about the equity of such systems are making their way to the forefront of the conversation.

Bike share can provide a cheap and healthy means of transportation, but many systems are not serving the lower-income and minority populations who, arguably, could benefit most from having the additional travel option.

A survey of 56 bike share system operators in the United States offers an overview of how these equity concerns are being addressed.

The survey is part of a larger research effort, Evaluating Efforts to Improve the Equity of Bike Share Systems. To gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities involved in providing more equitable bike share, TREC and NITC teamed up with the Better Bike Share Partnership: a collaboration between PeopleForBikes, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, and other local partners.

Nathan McNeil, a Portland State University research associate, is leading the research team in evaluating efforts to improve bike share equity with co-investigators John MacArthur and Jennifer Dill.

The researchers surveyed...

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Content Type: News Item

Everyday cycling for transportation can have positive, population-level health impacts.

Significant deterrents to cycling remain, however, particularly for women and minorities.

Narratives of Marginalized Cyclists, a NITC project conducted by Amy Lubitow of Portland State University, explores the experiences of women and minorities biking in Portland, Oregon.

Lubitow interviewed 28 Portlanders who self-identified as a woman or as a racial/ethnic minority (or both), and based on the insights gained from their stories, came up with a set of recommended interventions for planners to mitigate the barriers they experience.

"Institutionalized racism and sexism is hard to fix. These are complicated issues that involve multiple levels of interventions, but at a basic sort of smaller scale, there are things we can do," Lubitow said.

She chose participants who own a bike and ride it at least once a month, but not more than once a week. The primary aim of the project was to collect rich, narrative data regarding obstacles to routine or utilitarian cycling for women and minorities who already see biking as a viable form of transportation, but who make relatively few bike trips.

The interviews...

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Content Type: Blog entry

By Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.,TREC director -- Much has been written about millennials and their travel choices, both in the popular press and academic journals. The common theme of the storyline in the popular press is that millennials are driving less, owning fewer cars, and/or not getting their driver’s license. As a complement to that, they are early adopters of new modes, such as car sharing, bike sharing, and ridehailing. One assertion is that they would rather be using their mobile device in a Lyft car or on transit, than sitting behind the wheel. While the popular press often attributes these shifts to fundamental changes in attitudes or values, research from academics such as Noreen McDonald tells a more complicated story. McDonald found that economics, both decreased employment and the overall dampening in travel demand, explain much of the decrease in millennials’ driving. Switching modes did not, though attitudes and electronic substitution may account for 35-...

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Despite efforts to get more people biking, North America still has low ridership numbers.

The problem? Biking is hard.

A new NITC report by John MacArthur of TREC offers a solution to that problem: e-bikes. 

Many people surveyed say that having to pedal up hills and arriving at their destination sweaty are major deterrents to commuting by bike, even when bike lanes and other facilities are there.

Researchers have put a lot of thought into ways to get more people riding bicycles by improving bicycle infrastructure, land use and public engagement. The efforts are largely due to concerns about congestion, climate change and public health.

Comparatively little research, however, has focused on the bicycle itself.

MacArthur and co-investigator Jennifer Dill teamed up with Drive Oregon, Metro and Kaiser Permanente Northwest to provide Kaiser employees with electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) to use for a trial period of ten weeks. The goal was to see if e-bikes might help overcome some commonly cited barriers to cycling.

The study, Evaluation of Electric Bike Use at Three Kaiser Permanente NW Employment Centers in Portland Metro Region, took place in Portland, Oregon from April 2014 to September 2015. A total of 150 Kaiser employees participated in the study. Fewer than 10 percent of...

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A new NITC report offers a multimodal framework for transportation impact analysis – a welcome tool for professionals in many cities seeking more detailed data about non-drivers.

Improving Trip Generation Methods for Livable Communities, a research project headed by Kelly Clifton of Portland State University and Nico Larco of the University of Oregon, is the latest effort in an ongoing collaboration to create more open sourced, widely available data about non-motorized road users.

Over the last decades, cities have become more invested in fostering the conditions to support walking, biking and public transit.

The land development process presents a unique challenge.

Prior to a zoning change or new development, someone has to determine what its impact on the transportation system will be, and whether upgrades will be necessary to accommodate travelers to the new destination. Trip generation is the first step in the conventional transportation forecasting process.

Current trip generation methods used by engineers across the country tend to focus on motorized modes.

Without reliable trip generation rates for anyone but drivers, the transportation impact is difficult to predict. Certain land uses will draw far more walkers,...

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Car crashes are still a leading cause of death in the United States, with vulnerable road users like bicyclists and pedestrians being injured or killed at rates that outpace their mode share.

Planners, engineers, and advocates are increasingly adopting Vision Zero and Tactical Urbanism approaches and trying to better understand the underlying causes of dangerous roadway interactions. However, existing research into crash causation has focused on instrumental factors (e.g. intersection type, vehicle speed) while little research has probed the role of attitudes or socio-cognitive mechanisms in interactions between roadway users.

Social psychology suggests that attitudes and social cognitions can play a role in conflict. Drivers’ attitudes toward bicyclists, and how those attitudes may affect drivers’ behavior, are a largely unexplored area of research, particularly...

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Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Heard of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)? Wouldn’t it be great to know the corresponding value for walking and cycling?

This webinar discusses options for estimating the miles people walk and bicycle on the state-wide level, by investigating the practical considerations of trying to compute these values for one study state.

What strategies can be used, and what data sources do these require?

How do these strategies compare?

How do PMT/BMT estimates vary based on...

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