Portland State University and Toole Design Create Active Transportation "Research Roadmap" to Guide AASHTO’s National Research Agenda

posted on Thursday, July 22, 2021

Interested in active transportation research? What’s been done? What should be done? 

We’re excited to share the release of the Research Roadmap for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Council on Active Transportation (CAT). The Roadmap was created to foster research that will address important active transportation needs at the state DOT level and beyond. 

Funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a team of researchers from the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University (PSU) and Toole Design prepared the Research Roadmap over the past 18 months. They reviewed existing and on-going active transportation research, identified key research needs from a wide range of sources, and held outreach activities with practitioners to refine and prioritize those needs.

The project offers guidance on where active transportation research has been, and where it should go next in developing speed management strategies to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety on arterial roadways, determining context-driven optimal spacing between marked crosswalks, addressing racial and economic disparities in safety improvements, refining guidance on bicycle signal timing, overcoming barriers to implementing active transportation in planning and engineering practice, and many more research questions:

  • The...
Read More

Last year, a car driver hit a César Chávez K-8 School student at the intersection of N. Portsmouth Ave and N. Willis Blvd in Portland, OR. It underscored what parents, teachers and Portland community members have been demanding for many years: increased investment in traffic safety at schools during pick up and drop off hours.

What’s more: Portsmouth’s residents already had a lot of ideas of how to improve pedestrian safety at this intersection.

Seeking to help the community take action on these ideas, Safe Routes to School advocacy professionals William Francis and Hanna Howsmon at Community Cycling Center and César Chávez teacher Sam Balto recommended this intersection as a potential quick build project for the Better Block PSU pathway program-–a partnership between the volunteer-led group Better Block PDX and the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University that pairs transportation students with community-led projects. 

“PSU students support community members with the technical aspects of infrastructure improvements–elevating and materializing their ideas by developing plans, designs, and engineering concepts. It’s a shift from the status quo with a ground-up approach, and their transportation expertise can help community members in navigating the permit process or proposing informed solutions to the city,” shared Hau Hagedorn, TREC Associate...

Read more

Research demonstrates that marginalized populations experience significant barriers in accessing transit. The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) and the Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) at Portland State University are working with the University of Utah in a project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) to understand how people from selected historically marginalized communities experience discrimination and harassment on transit and in public areas such as sidewalks, bus stops, and transit platforms when accessing transit.

The study will be conducted in two sites: Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. In Portland, the study population will include racially and ethnically diverse people experiencing homelessness and people who identify as transgender and gender nonconforming; and ride TriMet. In Salt Lake City, the study population will include people experiencing homelessness as well as diverse groups based on their gender, racial, and ethnic identity; who ride Utah Transit Authority. We are seeking transit riders to help inform the study through photos and interviews. Participants will be compensated up to $50 for their labor. The researchers will be recruiting participants for this study through the end of August. 

PARTICIPATION INVOLVES:

... Read more

Dr. Huajie Yang, who graduated in 2020 with a PhD in Urban Studies and Planning from Portland State University, devoted his doctoral research to studying the impacts of light rail transit. His dissertation, "Short-term and Long-term Effects of New Light Rail Transit Service on Transit Ridership and Traffic Congestion at Two Geographical Levels," quantitatively examines the effect of new Light Rail Transit (LRT) services on transit ridership and traffic congestion over time.

Connect with Huajie Yang on LinkedIn

Yang examined light rail's impacts at two different geographic levels. At the corridor level, he conducted case studies of two light rail lines in the Portland, Oregon region (TriMet's Green and Orange MAX lines). At the regional level, he used a synthetic control method to construct a control Urbanized Area that closely approximates the counterfactual transit ridership and traffic congestion scenario - in the absence of light rail projects - in three urbanized areas across America.

The results of the corridor-level study suggest that both the Green and Orange lines increased transit ridership in the short and long term, and relieved traffic congestion in the short term, while having no...

Read more

Portland State University TREC researchers Kelly Clifton, Kristin Tufte and John MacArthur are among the co-authors of a May 2021 article published in Harvard Data Science Review. The paper, "Urban Sustainability Observatories: Leveraging Urban Experimentation for Sustainability Science and Policy," offers an outline of the requirements and research challenges involved in designing effective policies to meet sustainability goals for cities.

Humanity is experiencing revolutionary changes in the 21st century, including accelerating urbanization, the introduction of disruptive mobility technology services, and new sources of data generated and consumed by urban and mobility processes. However, the environmental, social, and economic sustainability implications of these new mobility services are unclear given the complex nature of urban systems and the multifaceted, contested nature of sustainability goals. The article discusses the concept of urban sustainability observatories that leverage urban experimentation through ongoing data collection and analysis capabilities. The researchers also discuss challenges in building and sustaining...

Read more

We're proud to announce the publication of a new NITC dissertation: "Methodologies to Quantify Transit Performance Metrics at the System-Level," by Travis Glick of Portland State University.

Performance metrics have typically focused at two main scales: a microscopic scale that focuses on specific locations, time-periods, and trips; and, a macroscopic scale that averages metrics over longer times, entire routes, and networks. When applied to entire transit systems, microscopic methodologies often have computational limitations while macroscopic methodologies ascribe artificial uniformity to non-uniform analysis areas. These limitations highlight the need for a middle approach. This dissertation presents a mesoscopic analysis based around timepoint-segments, which are a novel application of an existing system for many transit agencies.

In the United States, fix-route transit is typically defined by a small subset of bus stops along each route, called timepoints. For this research, routes are divided into a consecutive group of bus stops with one timepoint at the center. Each timepoint-segment includes all data collected in that segment during one hour of operation. Visuals for congestion and headway performance, based on the aggregated datasets, are designed to...

Read more

Our multi-year study on automated transit fare collection offers a key finding that won't surprise you: Despite the convenience, the rush toward cashless fare systems has created barriers for lower-income riders seeking to use transit. Results from focus groups, surveys, and a review of current transit agency practices suggest that continuing to accept cash is a crucial way to keep transit accessible. However, dealing with cash has drawbacks: it’s time intensive and expensive. Using a detailed cost-benefit model, the researchers explored the costs for agencies to maintain some cash options and found that some simple approaches can be quite effective. The best bang for the buck? Cash collection on board buses.

Launched in 2019, the research project "Applying an Equity Lens to Automated Payment Solutions for Public Transportation" was supported by a Pooled Fund grant program from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) and conducted at three universities: Portland State University (PSU), the University of Oregon (UO), and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). The other funding partners were City of Eugene, OR, City of Gresham, OR, Lane Transit District, Clevor Consulting Group, and RTD (Regional Transportation District) Denver....

Read more

Last month, Portland State University announced the 2021 awards for faculty and staff excellence for research, graduate mentoring and research administration. The awards are among the university's highest honors. The 2021 Presidential Career Research Award recipient is Jennifer Dill. Dill is a professor in the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, Director of the Transportation Research & Education Center at PSU, and Director of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a national university transportation center funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

TREC Communications Director Cait McCusker interviewed Dr. Dill last week to learn more about the origin and trajectory of her career in transportation research at PSU.

What led you to choose transportation research as your career?

Growing up in the 1970’s, I was surrounded by environmental issues. It was the time of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, the EPA, Earth Day, pollution, the oil crisis...all of that shaping my view on the world. When I went to undergraduate at UC Davis I knew I wanted to do something related to environmental policy and cities. Cities held a certain fascination for me, and in college I started...

Read more

This story is adapted from two sources; a story published by the Center for Transportation Studies and one from a 2007 Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) newsletter.

Transportation research and education has had a long, rich history at Portland State University. Looking back on that history, TREC is celebrating the achievements of an early advocate for transportation studies on the PSU campus: Dr. Walter H. Kramer

PSU is a national leader in transportation studies and research, with TREC - the Transportation Research and Education Center - serving as the interdisciplinary hub connecting urban planning, civil engineering, and other disciplines to mobility. We take full advantage of our university's location in one of the most innovative transportation networks in the U.S. – Portland, Oregon. Since 2005 we have also led a collaborative, federally-funded UTC research program dedicated to improving the mobility of people and goods. But before TREC existed, transportation had another home at PSU: the Center for Transportation Studies, or CTS.

Dr. Kramer joined PSU...

Read more

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is a department of the state government of the U.S. state of Oregon responsible for systems of transportation. It was first established in 1969 and has a passionate, talented, diverse workforce of almost 5,000. This story was originally shared in ODOT'S February 2021 Oregon Toll Program newsletter.


Francisco Ibarra, a Toll Program planning intern, is currently attending Portland State University for his Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degree. Francisco is from East Portland and has lived in Gresham for most of his life. Francisco knows the importance of collaborative planning with community members.

As a research assistant to the Toll Program Equity and Mobility Advisory Committee [at ODOT], Francisco attends meetings, listens to questions, and follows up with researched answers. Recently, he completed research on air quality monitoring related to transportation and health. He is ready to provide help to support the Toll Program and committee in every way he can.

"This project is...

Read more

With the extension of the FAST Act, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) will be receiving one additional year of funding. NITC's Executive Committee has developed four new funding opportunities that build on the excellent work NITC researchers have accomplished and increase the impact we are having nationally on improving mobility to build stronger communities. With this funding, we aim to increase our efforts in integrating racial equity into transportation education and research. Given that our grant will be ending, these opportunities all emphasize projects that are relatively short in length, rely on existing expertise, and will have specific outputs and outcomes– rather than projects that would be the start of longer-term, multi-phase efforts.

We encourage faculty and researchers to review all of the opportunities available and decide which to pursue. Review the new NITC grant funding opportunities here.

We will host two webinars on May 17 and 25 (11 am to 12 pm PST) to discuss all of the opportunities and answer questions. Recordings will be available afterwards.

Read more

Pages