PSU Researchers Will Develop Safe System Tools for Washington Department of Transportation

posted on Wednesday, April 17, 2024

In a new project that's just getting underway, Portland State University researchers will work with researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill to develop tools and a decision-making process to proactively design and retrofit roadways to make them safer. 

Led by Sirisha Kothuri of the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science and supported by the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT), the effort aims to help WSDOT implement a Safe System Approach to prevent dangerous crashes. They intend to implement safe systems in conjunction with another principle embraced by WSDOT and many other transportation agencies, the Complete Streets concept. Complete Streets is a planning and design method that prioritizes safe access for all road users.

"PSU along with UNC is excited to help WSDOT implement the Safe System Approach to road safety within the Complete Streets context. This work aims to reduce crashes for all road users generally, and in particular to eliminate fatal and serious injury crashes," Kothuri said.

WHY THE SAFE SYSTEM APPROACH?

As described by the United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), the Safe System Approach has been embraced by the transportation community as an effective way to address and mitigate the risks inherent in our transportation system. It works...

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Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) maintains two large, public transportation data lakes: PORTAL and BikePed Portal. The latest round of funding for PORTAL, in the amount of $1.6 million, was awarded in February 2024 and will cover PORTAL's activities through the next five years. BikePed Portal, too, recently received $100K for another year of funding, and both are the focus of some exciting innovations in transportation data.

The two centralized data repositories, unique both in their size and in the fact that they are accessible (PORTAL is freely available to the public, and BikePed Portal has limited public access as well), are supported by multiple federal, state, and regional agencies. Federal funding for PORTAL comes from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)'s Surface Transportation Block Grant (STBG) funding, suballocated by Metro’s ...

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Each year, the Portland Chapter of WTS awards scholarships to assist exceptional women in their educational pursuits in the field of transportation. The scholarships are competitive and selections are based on the applicant’s goals, academic achievements, and transportation related activities.

Three of the six scholarship winners this year are Portland State University (PSU) transportation students. Eun Jun Choi, Holly Querin, and Isa Swain will be presented with the awards during the 2024 WTS Scholarships and Awards Gala, which will be held Wednesday, April 17 in Portland.

Congratulations to the 2024 WTS scholars of PSU!

Eun Jun Choi: Jannet Walker-Ford Leadership Legacy Scholarship

Eun Jun Choi is a second-year doctoral student in Urban Studies with research interests in transportation planning, equity... Read more

The transportation safety crisis in America persists. People walking and riding bikes are more at risk than ever of being injured or killed, and those who manage transportation systems—in our case, State Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and tribes—are in urgent need of more and better data to make walking and bicycling safer and more attractive.

Data can be a powerful tool for agencies in determining which bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects are most critical. Decision makers are pushing to increase walking and cycling rates to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Transportation engineers and planners are looking for solutions to achieving vision zero goals and making all road users feel safer while walking, cycling, and rolling. Health professionals see active transportation for daily needs as a long-term solution to a wide range of chronic diseases. Significant new sources of infrastructure funding can support investments that could help reverse the trend of increasing pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities and the stagnating trends of cycling and walking for transportation. Despite the clear need, decision makers and professionals do not always have the data and tools necessary to make informed decisions.

A research team led by Portland State University has been contracted by the National...

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Portland's Old Town neighborhood is getting a new skatepark, and a team of PSU transportation students were instrumental in bringing the project from idea to reality. 

Given the project of activating a vacant lot on the west side of the Steel Bridge by transforming it into a community skatepark, students in the Spring 2023 bike-pedestrian planning class created a set of design options, a weighted decision matrix, and a memorandum of existing conditions for the site. They also developed performance measures to determine how best to meet the project's objectives of activating the space, creating a welcoming environment, and stimulating local business activity.

Their work provided a basis for ongoing conversations with stakeholders around the project, which ultimately resulted in a green light: Funding for the new skatepark was announced in January by Commissioner Dan Ryan, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation. Work is slated to begin this spring on property acquisition, community engagement and design of the 35,000 square foot facility.

"Getting to see this skatepark regularly...

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The Better Block PSU program at Portland State University (PSU) has opened the annual call for community organizations to reimagine their streets and underused public spaces in a way to bring people together and reclaim it for their community’s future. 

A partnership between the public spaces advocacy nonprofit Better Block PDX and the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at PSU, students in the Better Block PSU program have developed plans and designs for many community-driven projects that promote equitable placemaking, community building, and active transportation–including the well-known Better Naito project. What began as a PSU student-led initiative for safer and higher capacity bicycle and pedestrian facilities along the Waterfront Park, has gained so much public support that it was permanently implemented by the City of Portland.

Integrated into PSU planning and engineering classes, these projects can be powerful demonstrations of community-...

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Public transportation agencies are well acquainted with the consequences of unsheltered homelessness. A new report published this month provides timely and valuable information about how transit agencies can support people experiencing homelessness in our communities and minimize the impacts on public transportation services and facilities.

The report, funded by the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TRCP), was co-authored by TREC's sustainable transportation program manager John MacArthur along with Marisa Zapata, Anna Rockhill and Rebeca Petean of Portland State University's Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative (HRAC). The researchers will present on the project in an upcoming webinar (date TBA) in March 2024, hosted by the Transportation Research Board (TRB). 

While transit agencies cannot address the underlying causes of homelessness, there are opportunities to work with local partners to be a part of helping individuals in need, while providing a safe, reliable, and customer-friendly experience for all riders.

"I think transit agencies can no longer look at themselves as just providing transit. Their role in the way a community functions is so much bigger than that. Transit is the connection that gets a lot of people to essential services that will improve their lives. Transit agencies need to rethink how they are serving all riders, including people experiencing homelessness, and how they can - more humanely and with...

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The trip to and from school is made by nearly every child in Oregon every school day. Bike and walk buses, organized groups of school children, parents, and ride/walk leaders, seek to encourage biking and walking to school. A new research project at Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) will gather information on bike buses nationwide, inspired by the success of Sam Balto's bike bus initiative at Alameda Elementary School in Portland, Oregon.

Balto, a physical education teacher, catapulted into the limelight in 2022 after establishing a weekly bike bus involving over 100 students commuting to school on two wheels. Its success and popularity prompted a broader initiative to understand and promote the benefits of bike and walk buses across the United States.

Researchers John MacArthur and Nathan McNeil, along with Evan Howington, a student in the Master of Urban and...

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A team of students in Portland State University's Master of Urban & Regional Planning (MURP) program has won an award from the Council of University Transportation Centers (CUTC). CUTC presents its National Student Awards at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), which takes place next week in Washington D.C. This year is the first year that CUTC has included an award category for group projects, and the PSU team is the first to win the new CUTC Graduate-Level Student Group Award.

Team members Owen Christofferson, Sara Goldstein, Nick Hadfield, Zhouheng (Brian) Liu, Jenny Mazzella and Victoria Young won the award for the MURP workshop project, Nixyáawii Watikš.

The student team partnered with the planning office of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to plan a multi-use trail to improve walkability and connectivity in the community.

"We consulted with the tribal government to build a multi-use path that would connect a neighborhood in the reservation called "Mission" where there is commercial activity as well as a government center, a health center, educational facilities and a neighborhood being planned. Our job is find the best alignment to connect it to the Pendleton Riverwalk to allow walking, biking, and equestrian use for the tribal community to be able to access, in a much more safe and...

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Nathan McNeil, a Research Associate at PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), and co-authors Keith Bartholomew and Matt Ryan (University of Utah), have been selected for a Charley V. Wootan Award for their paper "Transportation Academies as Catalysts for Civic Engagement in Transportation Decision-making." They will be presented with the award in January at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

The paper, published in Transportation Research Record (TRR): The Journal of the Transportation Research Board, draws on findings from a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), with additional support from Salt Lake City Transportation Division; Wasatch Front Regional Council; Utah Department of Transportation; Utah Transit Authority; University of Utah; Salt Lake County, Regional Planning and Transportation; and the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Read more about the project: Launching the Wasatch Transportation Academy.

The article will also appear in a promotional issue of the TRR journal, physical copies of which will be available in the TRB Annual Meeting Exhibitor Hall in Washington, D.C. during the annual meeting. Stop by the TRR Journal booth for a copy.

The...

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The 103rd annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) will be held January 7–11, 2024 in Washington, D.C., and Portland State University transportation faculty and researchers will be sharing their expertise in 15 sessions at the world's largest transportation conference. The TRB annual meeting attracts thousands of transportation professionals from around the globe to address transportation policy, practice, and plans for the future.

VIEW THE ONLINE GUIDE TO PSU AT TRB

 

Some highlights from the PSU Program

Sunday, January 7 - Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Fusion: Learning from Each Other

Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University will present in this workshop, sharing "Exploring Data Fusion Techniques to Estimate Network-Wide Bicycle Volumes."

Traditional bicycle counters can provide data for limited sections of the bike network, often these counters are installed at important locations like trails or bridges. While limited in location, they count everyone who bikes by. Meanwhile, GPS & mobile data cover the entire transportation network,...

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