Sponsor: National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)
Research Team Lead: Christina Fink, Toole Design Group
Portland State Investigators: Christopher Monsere, Nathan McNeil and Sirisha Kothuri

One of the most common locations for motor vehicle-bicyclist crashes is at controlled intersections. Particularly dangerous is the conflict between through bicyclists and turning drivers (either left or right). Despite widespread acknowledgement of this problem, transportation engineers and planners still lack definitive guidance on how to safely and effectively design for bicyclists at intersections in the United States.

In a newly contracted project, awarded to Toole Design Group by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), a team of researchers will identify design best practices to reduce conflicts at intersections. In addition to Toole, the team includes researchers from Portland State University, Oregon State University (David Hurwitz), and Safe Streets Research & Consulting (Rebecca Sanders). Christopher...

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Sponsor: National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP)
Research Team Lead: Dr. Bahar Dadashova, Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Investigators: Christopher Monsere, Sirisha Kothuri and Nathan McNeil of Portland State University; and Toole Design Group

In recent years, there have been over 600 bicyclist fatalities annually in the United States. This sobering statistic has motivated a number of recent studies, including the recently released National Transportation Safety Board study, “Bicyclist Safety on US Roadways: Crash Risks and Countermeasures (PDF). ” That report notes that midblock crashes account for a disproportionate number of bicyclist fatalities and severe crashes, and that separated on-street bicycle facilities may reduce the likelihood of these crashes. However, there are only limited data on the safety outcomes of separated on-street bikeways in the U.S., despite their increasing popularity...

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Cyclists ride along a bicycle boulevard in Portland, Oregon
Wei Shi, Portland State University

In active transportation research, plenty of attention has been given to how different types of bike infrastructure affect people's likelihood of biking. Research has demonstrated that protected bike lanes encourage more people to bike than simple painted lanes, and that most cyclists feel safer riding through a protected intersection as opposed to navigating shared space with cars. However, relatively few empirical studies have investigated how holistically connected an entire bike network is, and how different populations can be positively or negatively impacted in their decision to bike by that level of connectivity.

Wei Shi, a recent Portland State University graduate with a PhD in urban planning, wrote her doctoral thesis on...

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Green bike signal
Principal Investigator: Chris Monsere, Portland State University
 Learn more about this newly funded research by viewing the Project Overview page. We anticipate findings to be published in 2020.

THE NEW PROJECT

Portland State University is embarking on a collaborative research effort, funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP), to help road users better understand bike-specific traffic signals. Over the next year, Dr. Christopher Monsere and Dr. Sirisha Kothuri of PSU's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) will work with researchers from Oregon State University and Toole Design Group to identify gaps in driver comprehension and causes of confusion when both bike signals and motor vehicle signals are present...

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Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing related presentations and download the full manual on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand from the researchers by tuning in for the webinar on December 4 (recording available post-webinar).

Prepared by TREC, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has just released a Manual on Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections to Transit.

TREC Director Jennifer Dill and TREC researcher Nathan McNeil worked with the FTA to develop the manual, a guidebook to creating a robust network for active transportation and transit users.

From defining "access sheds" to linking up transit and bike share, the newly published manual is a rich resource for planners and engineers looking to boost their city's bicycle and pedestrian transit access.

Dill and McNeil built the manual with a special...

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Principal Investigator: Christopher Monsere, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the final report and related publications on the Project Overview page.

The Federal Highway Administration issued an interim approval for bike signals, based on the NITC project "Operational Guidance for Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals." The project, selected in 2015 as one of AASHTO's "Sweet Sixteen" high-value research projects, has been widely cited and the research is instrumental in beginning to standardize the use and design of bicycle signals.

This video provides a look at what that means for jurisdictions in the United States:

A new NITC report introduces an important tool for safety analysis: a naturalistic method of data collection that can be used to improve the cycling experience.

Before now, most naturalistic studies (studies where data are collected in a natural setting, rather than a controlled setting) in bicycle safety research have been captured by stationary cameras and haven't followed cyclists along a route.

Researchers in this study used first-person video and sensor data to measure cyclists' reactions to specific situations.

Safety research in general has advanced significantly through naturalistic driving studies, which gather data from real drivers to illuminate the causes of traffic incidents both major and minor. For motorized vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been developing portable, vehicle-based data collection technologies since the early 1990s.

Portland State University researchers Feng Liu, Miguel Figliozzi and Wu-chi Feng sought to capture the cycling experience with physiological sensors and helmet-mounted cameras.

Their report, Utilizing Ego-centric Video to Conduct Naturalistic Bicycling Studies, offers a successful method for integrating video and sensor data to record cyclists...

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Alex Bigazzi, a 2014 NITC dissertation fellow and graduate of Portland State University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program, has published a paper based on his NITC-funded research in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

See ACS coverage of the project here.

Bigazzi's research evaluates the concentration of air pollution encountered by cyclists in Portland, Oregon.

In the study, volunteer research subjects rode bicycles equipped with instruments to collect high-resolution bicycle, rider, traffic and environmental data.

Participants rode a variety of routes including bicycle lanes on primary and secondary arterials, bicycle boulevards, off-street paths and mixed-use roadways. They were told to ride at a pace and exertion level typical for utilitarian travel, and breath biomarkers were used to record the amount of traffic-related pollution present in each cyclist’s exhalations. 

This research was the focus of Bigazzi's dissertation, Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System, published by NITC in December 2014. It was related to an earlier project...

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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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Portland State University today achieved the highest ranking from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly University program. Portland State is now one of just five platinum universities recognized under the program.

Other NITC program campuses were also designated as bike friendly. University of Oregon achieved gold status and University of Utah, silver.

The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning, known as the Five E's.

The league noted that Portland State’s support for bicycling has helped reduce congestion, improve air quality and lower the demand for parking on campus. “Portland State encourages bicycling as an affordable, efficient option for transportation and provides amenities such as indoor bicycle parking, low-cost bicycle rentals, and an on-campus Bike Hub, where students can find everything they need to make bicycling a part of their commute options,” the league stated.

PSU previously was a gold-level bike-friendly university. In the past two years it expanded its “Vik Bike” bicycle rental program from 12 bicycles to 134. Each bike comes with lights, a lock and a helmet. The program, in which students can rent a bike for a term, receive training on bike commuting and bike maintenance, has a waiting list of participants.

During the...

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