NITC researchers have tested a method of collecting transportation behavior data using a smartphone app, with promising results.

The process could save transit agencies “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says lead researcher Christopher Bone, and give them access to comprehensive, real-time data about their ridership, all without compromising passengers’ privacy.

Christopher Bone, Marc Schlossberg, Ken Kato, Jacob Bartruff and Seth Kenbeek of the University of Oregon designed a custom mobile application, which allows passengers to volunteer information about their travel habits, and recruited passengers to use it in a test case.

Their report, “Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data,” was released this month.

Download it here.

Participants were asked to use the app for three weeks on Lane Transit District’s EmX bus line located in the Eugene-Springfield area in western Oregon. Researchers placed sensors on the buses and at stops to detect when someone using the app was boarding. When a user came within range of a sensor, they...

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The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is seeking a Project Director for the National Summer Transportation Institute (NSTI) program.

The NSTI High School Program at Portland State University will be a 10-day non-residential day program for 15 to 25 girls entering 9th through 12th grade. Program hours will be 9 am to 4 pm, M-F over 10 consecutive work days in July. The Project Director will be responsible for overseeing the development, implementation and administration of the program.

Applicants should have at least a Bachelor of Arts or Science, experience and enthusiasm working with youth, excellent communication and problem solving skills, and expertise in MS Word, Excel and other office programs.

Primary responsibilities will include recruiting and selecting students, coordinating curriculum with guests speakers, and administering the budget and reporting requirements of the program.

The position is scheduled to start as soon as the selected candidate is available. This limited duration position will continue through August 31, 2016.

Download the full position description and instructions for how to apply.

TREC Director Jennifer Dill has been named to the board of trustees for TransitCenter, an urban mobility foundation based in New York City. Dill serves as one of six trustees at the think tank, where former Metro Council President David Bragdon is executive director.

TransitCenter has changed the thinking around transit and multimodal transportation, Dill said. “They’re making change in a field that has often been slow to innovate,” she said.

“For a young organization, they’ve already been making huge impacts.”

Part of the success comes from TransitCenter’s broad mission, which challenges old assumptions about transit governance and leadership. “It’s a holistic approach,” Dill said. “It’s not just technology;... Read more

The NITC program has selected two dissertation fellows for the spring 2016 round of dissertation funding.

Portland State University Ph.D. candidates Patrick Singleton and Kristina Currans will each be awarded a $15,000 fellowship to support their doctoral dissertation research.

Both Currans and Singleton are also Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Graduate Fellows.

Singleton, a former Eno fellow and NITC’s 2015 student of the year, will focus his research on the “positive utility of travel.” 

Traditionally, travel is considered a means to an end, and travel demand is derived from activity demand. More recently, scholars have questioned these axioms, noting that some people enjoy traveling, use travel time productively, and may travel for non-utilitarian reasons.

Singleton will explore this concept, empirically investigating what factors determine the positive utility of travel and its impact on travel behavior. 

His research has important implications for transportation planning and policy, through improving knowledge of influences on sustainable modes and anticipating potential behavioral shifts with autonomous vehicles.

Currans, a former NITC scholar, student of the year and inductee into the Portland State University Women Engineers Hall of Fame, will be researching data and methodological issues in assessing multimodal transportation impacts.

As cities aim to promote sustainable, multimodal growth, existing...

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Protected bicycle lanes have gained popularity as a safer way to get more people cycling. Earlier research from the Transportation Research and Education Center, TREC, at Portland State University showed that people feel safer in lanes with a physical barrier between bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.

The research hadn’t closely studied the intersections, where the barriers—and the protection they offer—go away. With little research guidance, agencies across the country could face the prospect of using untested approaches or avoiding protected lanes altogether.

TREC, through its National Institute for Transportation and Communities pooled-fund program, is now addressing intersections for protected lanes. The program lets agencies and interested partners invest small amounts to join research with a national impact. For this project, 11 partners each put $5,000 to $50,000 toward the $250,000 cost.

The project will help agencies decide which intersection treatments to use in which cases, and what elements each should include. Toole Design Group will work with the Portland State research team to tailor the results to practitioners.
“Right now, it’s based on their judgment,” said...

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The National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program invites proposals for a new round of research, education, and technology transfer projects for 2016.

NITC is focused on contributing to transportation projects that support innovations in: livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability.

This grant is part of the University Transportation Center program, funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and is a partnership between Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology, the University of Utah and the University of South Florida.

Projects should range from $30,000 to $150,000. Projects can focus on research, education, or technology transfer. All projects submitted for this RFP will undergo peer review. All awards require a 1 to 1.2 (unless otherwise noted) non-federal match in the form of cash or in-kind services from project partners—to include universities, transportation and other public agencies, industry, and nonprofit organizations.

Download the RFP, and visit the researchers page for more details on how to apply.

Abstracts are due March 15, 2016 at 5:00 PM PDT. Full proposals will be due April 15.

The NITC research program has announced its Small Starts grant awards for 2016.

The purpose of the Small Starts grant is to assist researchers who are interested in transportation but have not had an opportunity to undertake a small project—$15,000 in funding or less—that supports NITC's theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities.

Projects awarded Small Starts funding in this round include studies of connectivity for active travel routes, explorations of the reasons why people choose active travel modes, and investigations of transportation barriers for the food insecure.

Funded projects in this round are:

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Today marks the final day of NITC program presentations at TRB. NITC campuses feature in six posters at 8:30 a.m. and one lectern session, at 8 a.m.

Portland State University doctoral student Joe Broach presents a portion of the work that makes up his dissertation at the 8:30 a.m. poster session, in Hall E of the convention center.

Through earlier work, Broach learned the distances cyclists will detour from the shortest path to, say, avoid stop signs or use an off-road path. But that work said little about whether a person was likely to use a bicycle for that trip at all. 

That earlier work helped Broach get a sense of actual routes people might bicycle or walk along. For this research, he took that one step further, determining if the features of those routes influenced the decision to walk or bike at all.  

The poster is titled, “Using Predicted Bicyclist and Pedestrian Route Choice to Enhance Mode Choice Models” (Paper No. 16-4108).

Broach said he pursued the mode-choice-model approach after the route-choice models alone left some questions unanswered, particularly those of the cycling gender gap. Bike boulevards, the low-traffic neighborhood streets that prioritize cyclists, attracted male and female riders at about the same rates, for example.

But the question wasn’t whether women who had made the choice to bicycle would take bike boulevards. Rather, it was...

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Today is the biggest day of the annual Transportation Research Board meeting for posters and presentations from NITC program affiliated campuses. The day starts with an 8:30 a.m. poster session featuring eight NITC affiliate posters and ends with the NITC reception and transportation trivia.

An "Emerging Research in Bicycling" lectern session at 1:30 p.m. will highlight two separate NITC projects. In one, Portland State University researchers Jennifer Dill and Nathan McNeil discuss their research on the "Four Types of Transit Cyclist" typologies first proposed by Roger Geller of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. 

The research follows up on our earlier research, which validated the typologies for the city of Portland. The current project looks at whether it also applies nationwide.

Dill and McNeil asked a sample of 3,000 people in the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. to state their comfort bicycling in various environments, their interest in bicycling and recent behavior. They found that the distribution of people who can be categorized in the four groups:...

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Monday is the first day for lectern and poster sessions at TRB. Researchers from universities affiliated with the National Institute for Transportation and Communities program have 12 presentations on the day's schedule.

Chris Monsere of Portland State University presents "Operational Guidance for Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals in the United States" at an 8:30 a.m. poster session in Hall E (all listed rooms are in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center). The poster is part of a state department of transportation high-value research session.

Last July, the project, led by Monsere with co-investigator Miguel Figliozzi, was honored as a "Sweet Sixteen" project by the Research Advisory Committee to the AASHTO Standing Committee on Research. Each year, the committee collects High Value Research highlights from member states across the country. From these, each of the four RAC regions selects its top four projects to form the Sweet Sixteen. 

More information on the research is on the project page.

Other highlights for the day

  • Nicholas Stoll of Portland State University gives a lectern presentation on using bus GPS data to identify congestion hot spots at 8 a.m. in Room 150A. Read our feature story on this research. 
  • Patrick...
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