Transforming Transportation Agencies: Bridging Research, Policy and Practice for Safer Streets

iStock-1204988402 copy.jpg

The need for improving active transportation safety and mobility is clear: Nationally, since 2004, the share of all road user deaths that are pedestrians has risen from just under 11% to nearly 17% in 2020. Cyclists’ share of all fatalities has also increased over the past decade, from 2.1% in 2011 to 2.4% in 2020.. In many cases, solutions are also clear: for example, there are numerous evidence-based approaches to making walking and bicycling safer and more comfortable through improved infrastructure. So if the needs and solutions are clear, why are we not progressing more quickly toward improved road safety and better active transportation options?

In many ways, walking, bicycling, and rolling have not been a top priority for state departments of transportation (DOTs). Changing agency practice is essential: DOTs need research to help them better implement active transportation effectively and seamlessly.

This is the objective of a newly launched project, funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Over two years, researchers will create an active transportation institutionalization guide to help state DOTs change their culture and processes and integrate active transportation into every stage of their work, from program development and project funding to project delivery, operations and maintenance.

The research team is led by Jennifer Dill of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University (PSU), along with Nathan McNeil and John MacArthur. Project partners include Erin Flanigan at Applied Research Associates (ARA), who has pioneered the application of the Transportation Systems Management and Operations (TSMO) CMM assessment framework at multiple transportation agencies, and Kelly Rodgers at Streetsmart Planning.


The objective of this project is to provide a framework for state DOTs to institutionalize active transportation. The guide produced by the research team will include a capability maturity model (CMM) for organizational assessment of readiness. 

The framework and guide will also include:

  • examples of successful implementation practices;
  • models for partner and stakeholder coordination and public engagement;
  • considerations for organizational structure, policy, process, and procedural changes needed to embed and integrate active transportation into program development, project funding, project delivery, operations, and maintenance; and
  • strategies for overcoming barriers to implementing and institutionalizing transportation improvements to equity, access, safety, and health.

Read more about the new project: NCHRP 08-164: Institutional Integration of Active Transportation

Photo by ArtMassa/iStock

Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) is home to the U.S. DOT funded National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), PORTAL, BikePed Portal and other transportation grants and programs. We produce impactful research and tools for transportation decision makers, expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engage students and professionals through education and participation in research. To get updates about what's going on at TREC, sign up for our monthly newsletter or follow us at the links below.

Facebook  |  Instagram  |  LinkedIn  |  TikTok  |  Threads  |  X  |  YouTube

Share this: