TREC awards for 2017, 2018 and 2019 bike to work month

How the Pandemic Broke TREC’s “Bike to Work Month” Winning Streak

posted on Thursday, May 28, 2020, 11:30am PDT

Traditionally, the month of May is Bike to Work Month. Last year this time, Oregon logged 179,177 trips for a total of 1,374,835 miles by 10,397 riders. And last year this time TREC was winning the PSU bike to work month department challenge. So what are we seeing in the data now?

For continuity from the last time we posted some bike volume observations, we’re again showing data from the Hawthorne Bridge and Tilikum Crossing (Figure 1) in Portland, Oregon. At the moment, daily volume across the Hawthorne Bridge remains relatively low. Typically we’d expect bike volumes across the Hawthorne would be higher in May, especially because if this were “normal” times we’d be competing in the Bike to Work Month challenge. Bike volumes across the Tilikum show higher volumes beginning in April, especially on the weekends since the March 23, stay-at-home order was issued.

Figure 1. Daily bike volumes across Hawthorne Bridge and Tilikum Crossing. EB = eastbound; WB = westbound. The solid orange line (March 12) represents the...

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a TOD in Portland
Photo by Nathan McNeil
Nathan McNeil and Jennifer Dill, Portland State University

Does living in a transit-oriented development (TOD) actually change the way people travel? That's the fundamental question that 15 years of research in Portland, Oregon seeks to answer.

Since 2005, Portland State University has worked with Portland’s Metro regional government to survey occupants of buildings for which developers had received funding from...

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Scholars

Each year, through our Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) program, TREC offers a range of scholarships to assist students pursuing equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation. Four Portland State University students were awarded TREC scholarships for the 2020/2021 academic year: Darshan Chauhan of civil & environmental engineering, and Robert Hemphill, Philip Longenecker and Briana Orr of urban studies & planning.


Darshan Chauhan (Walter H. Kramer Fellowship)

Darshan Chauhan (see his NITC student spotlight here) is a graduate research assistant in civil engineering at Portland State University. He has served as the treasurer of STEP (Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning), PSU's transportation student group, and generously volunteers his time at a variety of transportation-related events via PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC). He defended his masters thesis on network flow problems in fall 2019, and is now a PhD student in the civil engineering...

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Bikes near transit
Photo by Cait McCusker
Chris Cherry and Candace Brakewood, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
John MacArthur, Portland State University

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has changed the way most of the world moves through daily life, with many businesses having to temporarily close and students of all levels forced to transition to online courses.

Even so, grocery stores, medical facilities, and takeout restaurants remain open, requiring workers to commute to and from work. In metro areas, that can often mean taking some form of transit, potentially exposing workers in these vital areas to the disease. 

In a collaborative project between University of Tennessee at Knoxville and Portland State University, researchers Chris Cherry (UT), Candace Brakewood (UT) and John MacArthur (PSU) are studying the impacts of people’s travel decisions on transit, shared bikes and e-scooters, and it comes with backing from a National Science Foundation RAPID Award

These awards are granted for research with "a severe...

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Cyclist stands next to the Hawthorne Bridge Bicycle Counter

Authored by Tammy Lee, Transportation Data Manager

For a deeper dive into bicycle volume data, watch the May 8 seminar with Tammy Lee and Kristin Tufte: Creating And Using A Publicly Available Multimodal Transportation Data Archive. Also, check out her earlier blog post on motor vehicle traffic volumes.

The weather these past few weeks has been beautiful: sunny, not too hot, not too cold, cherry trees blossoming… the ideal biking weather marred by a less than ideal pandemic.

Are social distancing measures affecting bike trips in Portland, OR? Maybe. Personally? Yes.

First, let’s get a few things out of the way before we provide summary observations:

  • Analyzing bike data is not as “easy” as evaluating vehicle traffic data: the infrastructure for monitoring bike (and pedestrian) data isn’t anywhere close to how vehicle traffic is monitored. There just aren’t many bicycle count detectors. So if one detector stops working then what little data that was available in the first place became that much littler.

  • Evaluating bike data during the spring in Portland...

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Image by Luije/iStock

Authored by Aaron Golub Director and Associate Professor, Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. Join Aaron and John MacArthur on May 22nd for a PSU Friday Transportation Seminar sharing early results from the research presented here.

With many transit agencies across the country1 eliminating cash handling at ticket counters and on-board vehicles for obvious health and virus transmission reasons, one may wonder: who will be negatively impacted by this? 

Some riders can still use cash at ticket vending machines or at certain retail outlets, but for many, depending on where they live and which parts of the transit system they ride, this will be inconvenient. National data2 show clear disparities3 in access to alternatives to cash (credit and debit accounts) as well as the other tools needed to pay for things electronically (smartphones, cell data plans and internet at home and work). What these national data don't capture are the specific issues...

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Cars on the freeway
Authored by Tammy Lee, Transportation Data Manager

For a deeper dive into vehicle volume data, attend the May 8 online seminar with Tammy Lee and Kristin Tufte: Creating And Using A Publicly Available Multimodal Transportation Data Archive. At this seminar, the presenters will offer an updated data analysis that reflects the latest vehicles volumes.

Ask most Portland drivers and they’ll tell you that traffic has gotten worse over the past 10 years. And data from the Oregon Department of Transportation supports that feeling.  

But for now, temporarily at least, all that is in the past.

The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Oregon was February 28; a little over a month after the first positive test in the US. Since that week, many have noticed differences in traffic on our streets. An analysis of data from PORTAL - our multi-modal transportation data archive for the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region - reflects that drop in traffic. 

A number of articles have been published describing the effects of social distancing policies in other cities around the country. For example,...

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A laptop, a cup of coffee, and a couch with a dog named Tomato in the background

Transportation professionals and educators are navigating new territory as they move their work online. People all over the world are sharing resources, inspiration and expertise in our new remote learning environment. With that in mind, we've put together this resource page (updates ongoing) to support transportation faculty in adapting their courses, and to inform our community on navigating the impacts of COVID-19 on transportation.

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TEACHING TRANSPORTATION ONLINE: UNIVERSITY RESOURCES

Seminars and Webinars for Online Learning

We've put together a list of some of our most useful recorded transportation seminars for online learning (Google doc) on a variety of topics related to engineering, planning, and active transportation. PSU's Office of Academic Innovation offers this resource on teaching remotely during COVID-19.

Navigating the Sudden Shift to Remote Teaching

Faculty are getting creative with teaching planning and engineering concepts while infrastructure and normal mobility behavior is in flux. Do you have an anecdote...

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A woman crosses the street at acrosswalk, with traffic calming speed bumps for cars leading up to the crosswalk
Photo by Cait McCusker
Jennifer Dill (PI), Chris Monsere, and Nathan McNeil; Portland State University
  • Shape the Active Transportation Roadmap: The project team will begin gathering input from transportation professionals in the coming months. Add your email address if you would like to be contacted.

Amid the explosion of active transportation literature over the last thirty years, practitioners struggle to effectively synthesize and use that research in their everyday practice. The interdisciplinary scope is vast: engineering, health and medicine, planning and design, psychology, public administration and policy, and many more. The search tools to find the sprawl of active transportation research on any one topic are inadequate, particularly for the average user. Meanwhile, there are still gaps in our knowledge about active...

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PSU Students Darshan, Gabby, and Mike

Photos by Cait McCusker

Portland State continued our tradition of standing out at last month's annual gathering of the Transportation Research Board (TRB). We've collected some highlight stories as well as posters and presentations of Portland State University research presented at the conference. Explore the links below to see what PSU researchers brought to D.C. this year, and read about some student and faculty accomplishments at the nation's largest transportation research conference.

We've also collected our best photos—Check out our TRB 2020 photo album here.

PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY HIGHLIGHTS

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