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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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Event Date:
Jul 25, 2017
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Smart growth policies have often emphasized the importance of land use mix as an intervention beholding of lasting urban planning and public health benefits. Past transportation-land use research has identified potential efficiency gains achieved by mixed-use neighborhoods and the subsequent shortening of trip lengths; whereas, public health research has accredited increased land use mixing as an effective policy for facilitating greater physical activity.

However, despite the celebrated transportation, land use, and health benefits of improved land use mixing and the extent of topical attention, no consensus has been reached regarding the conceptualization and measurement of this key smart growth principle or the magnitude of its link to walking. This research, comprising three empirical studies, explores this topic in detail.

This webinar will provide attendees with greater specificity in the measurement of...

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Event Date:
Apr 14, 2017
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Many agencies rely on trip generation estimates to evaluate the transportation impacts of land development in urban and suburban areas alike. Over the past decade, substantial attention has been paid to one national set of guidelines—the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Trip Generation Handbook (2014) and corresponding Manual (2012)—focusing in particular to improve the use of these data and supplementary methods for urban contexts. 

The purpose of this study is to explore the typical data provided in the Handbook, within the context of these new improved state-of-the-art methods. As ITE’s describes, “an example of poor professional judgment is to rely on rules of thumb without understanding or considering their derivation or initial context” (Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2014, p. 3). This research aims to improve the understanding of these data—still ubiquitously used across the US—to encourage increased engagement with their meaning, and following, to provide the users (e.g., engineering, planners, agencies, and...

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Painted as the “next big thing” in transit, bus rapid transit systems have the luster of a new concept -- and the lack of research literature to match. A NITC research project set out to change that, producing a far-ranging research report delving into the influence of BRT on jobs, housing and development.

Bus Rapid Transit systems occupy a space between regular bus and light rail systems. Like regular bus systems, BRT systems typically use rubber tires and internal combustion engines and run on paved roads. However, the systems may share many features with light-rail trains, including exclusive lanes, off-vehicle payment systems and low floors and large doors for quicker boarding.

Led by Arthur C. Nelson at the University of Utah’s Metropolitan Research Center, the project, “National Study of BRT Development Outcomes,” looked at systems around the country, finding evidence that BRT systems influence development patterns in important ways. The research found that BRT systems are tied to positive outcomes for development and job location, although not necessarily changes in population or housing.

Bus rapid transit systems hold the promise of bringing communities some of the positive outcomes traditionally associated with light-rail transit systems but at a lower cost. The research will be of interest to...

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States can reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a broad range of approaches, but none will have much luck without continued support from leaders and the public, according to NITC program research from the University of Oregon. In a conference paper for the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C., a team led by Rebecca Lewis took a close look at the efforts West Coast states have made to reduce emissions from the transportation.

Cutting transportation emissions depends on three variables: vehicle efficiency, fuel carbon content and vehicle miles traveled, or VMT. The paper focuses on the last leg: cutting driving. While more efficient automobiles and alternative fuels have come on the market in recent years, a growing population and longer commutes can wipe out any emissions gains from shifts in fuel economy and fuel type.

Washington, Oregon and California have all passed statutes to cut statewide greenhouse gases below 1990 levels by 2020. The approaches vary in their targets, plans and strategies.

Lewis and her team present the research in a poster session Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in...

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Event Date:
May 01, 2015
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Where: Room 204 of the Distance Learning Center Wing of the Urban Center at PSU

The ability to forecast future transportation patterns under a particular land-use scenario or urban form is key to making informed decisions at the local and regional levels.

Although several researchers have explored the links between the built environment, socio-demographics and travel behavior, a consensus is not reached.

This talk highlights two recent projects. The first project focuses on individuals’ attitudes towards transportation, neighborhood characteristics and their effects on campus commuters’ transit use, and addresses the question whether attitudes, the built environment or a combination of both explains the resulting transit use better.

The second part presents the Regional Land Use Allocation Decision Analysis Tool developed for The Ohio Department of Transportation, which enables decision makers to quantify the impacts of population and employment distribution in terms of the resulting VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled). This tool forecasts the impacts of future land-use policies in Ohio, based on alternative assumptions of highway and mass transit corridor development, zoning and...

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Event Date:
Oct 27, 2015
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Recent federal and state policies are placing increasing emphasis on using comprehensive transportation performance measures to guide transportation decision making processes covering policy areas ranging from mobility, safety, economy and livability, to issues of equity and environment. While it is relatively easy to build consensus on mobility measures that center on the transportation system alone, it is much harder for performance measures to incorporate both transportation and land use, loosely defined as accessibility measures, even with continuous efforts to catalog and design such measures.

Two projects at PSU sponsored by Oregon DOT and National Institute of Transportation Communities (NITC) aim to to develop and evaluate Transport Cost Index (TCI), a comprehensive performance measure for transportation and land use, in order to fill important gaps in popular accessibility measures: 

  1. TCI is a composite indicator that is able to present an overall picture of a community’s accessibility, while at the same time is relatively easy to interpret for...
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Event Date:
May 14, 2004
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Event Date:
Mar 11, 2005
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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Event Date:
Jan 28, 2005
Content Type: Professional Development Event

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