Transportation Research at Portland State

In 1966 the first transportation studies center was established at PSU. Since then our transportation faculty and staff expertise has grown to worldwide recognition, and expanded to include the multitude of disciplines that inform transportation decision-making: planning, engineering, economics, design, psychology, information technology and more. Our researchers do work locally with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Oregon DOT, Metro, TriMet, and more; as well as being tapped to take on national projects.

Explore the decades of transportation research at PSU here, or dig into some of our key research areas in bikeway design; bike share; electric bikes; pedestrian safety; and transportation data.

National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC)

We are the lead campus of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) — one of seven national University Transportation Centers (UTC's) funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. We pursue our theme, improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities, through research, education and technology transfer in conjunction with our partner universities: University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah and new partners University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington.

We release new research monthly in our NITC newsletter, and offer monthly NITC webinars that deep dive into one of the latest projects. Established in 2009, we have hosted an annual gathering with our partners to connect practitioners and researchers with NITC research at the Transportation and Communities Summit.

Transportation Data

Data-driven policy and strategy are critical to meeting transportation goals. To that end, we’ve focused our research efforts on filling gaps in data and education. In addition to hosting a quarterly transportation data webinar series, we house two national data clearinghouses – PORTAL and BikePed Portal – aimed at making transportation data more easily accessible to researchers and practitioners.


PORTAL provides a centralized, electronic database that facilitates the collection, archiving, and sharing of transportation data and information for public agencies. The data stored in PORTAL includes 20-second granularity loop detector data from freeways in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region, arterial signal data, travel time data, weather data, incident data, VAS/VMS message data, truck volumes, transit data, and arterial signal data.

BikePed Portal

BikePed Portal, a national non-motorized count data archive, provides a centralized standard count database for public agencies, researchers, educators, and other curious members of the public to view and download bicycle and pedestrian count data. It includes automated and manual counts from across the country, and supports screenline and turning movement counts.

Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI)

The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) program advances active transportation research and design for professionals, educators, and university students through training, curriculum development and scholarships. 

Founded in 2007, we work closely with PSU faculty in urban studies and planning and civil engineering to conduct interdisciplinary research and integrate bicycle and pedestrian topics into our university courses and support the next generation of professionals. Our location in Portland, Oregon – a national leader in multimodal travel – provides the ideal environment to teach safe, convenient and accessible active transportation and promote a culture of walking and biking.

Better Block PSU

Better Block PSU is a partnership program between the volunteer-led group Better Block PDX and PSU - encouraging everyone to imagine what spaces could be when they are designed for people. Every year local community partners and advocates submit their project ideas to be considered for the university pathway program. These projects promote equitable placemaking, community building and empowerment, and active transportation advocacy. 

Integrated into PSU planning and engineering classes, 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.