Oct 22, 2013

Most people in transportation circles have heard all about the Netherlands as a bicyclist’s mecca, a place where thirty-five percent of the population regularly commutes by bike. What may be less commonly known is how recent this achievement is.

In 1967, bicycling in the Netherlands was “tantamount to attempting suicide,” according to Amsterdam’s chief inspector of traffic police.

Today, the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to operate a bicycle, based on injury and fatality rates per miles traveled. In less than fifty years, their bicycle safety rates have soared and the Dutch have built a bicycle infrastructure that is the envy of the rest of the world. How did they do it? 

Could Americans possibly do the same?

That’s what Portland State University transportation students aim to find out.

When PSU student Kirk Paulsen signed up to spend two weeks in the Netherlands as part of the first PSU civil engineering study abroad program, he wasn’t sure what exactly he might get out of it, but knew that he wanted to see famed Dutch bicycling facilities for himself. Paulsen was one of seven transportation students in the pilot class of 2011, and now has this to say about the experience:

“This short study abroad course is by far your best opportunity while enrolled at PSU to observe real world...

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Oct 11, 2013

A student participating in the Portland Bridges to Baccalaureate program completed a summer internship doing research for OTREC this year.

Yasmina Green, a 34 year old non-traditional student attending Portland Community College, was intrigued when she heard about the Bridges program. Green, who eventually hopes to get a master’s in public health at PSU, took advantage of the opportunity to secure a summer internship working in a public health-related field.

“I was a bit confused as to where I was going to go,” Green said. “Public health is so broad. The Green Lane project was something that kind of piqued my interest. I was a bike commuter.”

The Green Lane Project, a project of People For Bikes, has selected six cities to serve as pilot sites for new designs and approaches to creating comfortable, separated bike routes. OTREC researchers are involved in assessing the safety, operations, economic effects, user experience and perceptions of the new protected bikeways.

Green assisted researchers Jennifer Dill, Chris Monsere, and Nathan McNeil with a study on...

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Sep 05, 2013

At age 8, Taras Grescoe decided that his Vancouver, B.C., residential street had too many cars chugging past. So he removed them.

“I completely redesigned our city block and modeled with Monopoly hotels what it would look like without cars,” Grescoe said. “I was this 8-year-old urban planning geek in the making.”

While his career took a different path, those early transportation experiences shaped a worldview Grescoe outlines in his latest book, “Straphanger.” Grescoe will present his observations as the keynote speaker for the Oregon Transportation Summit Sept. 16.

Register for the summit through the following link:
http://otrec.us/events/subpage/OTS/page1

The author of nonfiction essays and books including “Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood” Grescoe is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Independent and National Geographic Traveler and has written for Gourmet, Salon and Wired.

If moving from a walkable neighborhood in Toronto to a...

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Aug 23, 2013

(First published by BikePortland.org)

Portland has a network of neighborhood greenways, and they're great. But Jean-Francois Pronovost's is 3,100 miles long. That's approximately the distance from Portland to Nicaragua.

The Greenway (Route Verte in Pronovost's native French) is a bike route network running all over the Canadian province of Quebec. On Monday, the vice president for development and public affairs at advocacy group Vélo Québec visits Portland to share lessons from this project and others in the first annual Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, a major new series produced by Portland State University's Institute for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation.

The event is free, though space is limited to 240. On Thursday, BikePortland spoke with Pronovost to learn more about his life's work, the best parts of Quebec bike touring and how his hometown of Montreal managed to replace 320 auto parking spaces with a downtown protected lane that carries 9,000 bikes per day. Questions and answers were edited for space. 

Can you describe your most famous achievement, the Route Verte??

The Route Verte [pronounced with hard Ts and silent...

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Aug 07, 2013

IBPI, or the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, is a center for research and learning that is focused on bicycle and pedestrian travel.

Based at Portland State University, the group's aim is to advance bicycling and walking as integral elements of the transportation system in Oregon’s communities. July 24 -26 IBPI hosted a faculty workshop to help transportation professors integrate bicycle and pedestrian topics into their courses.

Aimed at faculty members teaching transportation courses within an accredited planning or engineering program at the university level, the workshop included curriculum, guidebooks, and field trips to gain first-hand knowledge of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Portland, Oregon.

It was kept small, to allow for discussion and interaction. The workshop's 15 participants were first given the chance to describe the existing gaps in their courses and what they hoped to gain from the workshop, then guided through a two-day series of activities tailor-made to fit their needs.

Their goals ranged from specific to general, requesting ways to incorporate GIS analysis into bicycle and pedestrian courses, suggestions for how to integrate active travel performance measures with typical vehicular performance measures, and generally a deeper understanding of bicycle research.

Robert Bertini (Portland State University...

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Jul 19, 2013
OTREC researchers Jennifer DillChris Monsere and Nathan McNeil of Portland State University recently received an honor from AASHTO.
 
AASHTO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, works with a committee whose role it is to proactively promote quality and excellence in research.
 
Each year at its annual meeting, AASHTO's Research Advisory Committee (RAC) selects four projects from each of its four regions to form a "Sweet Sixteen" group of high value research projects.
 
At this year’s RAC meeting, which took place July 15 through the 18, a project by Dill, Monsere and McNeil made the Sweet Sixteen.
 
The project, “District Department of Transportation Bicycle Facility Evaluation,” was funded by DDOT (the District of Columbia’s transportation department) in an effort to improve the city’s bicycling infrastructure.
 
The project's investigators took a look at innovative bicycle facilities installed at three locations in Northwest D.C. which were designed to provide increased safety, comfort, and convenience for cyclists. The first was a complex intersection, New Hampshire Avenue...
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Jul 16, 2013

The Ann Niles Transportation Lecture series opens Aug. 26 with a lecture from Jean-François Pronovost of Vélo Québec titled "Growing a World-Class Cycling Culture: Lessons from Québec." The series is sponsored by the Ann Niles Transportation Lecture Endowment and serves as a legacy to Ann Niles, an advocate for livable neighborhoods.

Philip Niles created the endowment with a gift to the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, or IBPI, in honor of his late wife. Ann Niles was a strong advocate for livable neighborhoods and served on many transportation-related boards and committees in Portland.

The lecture series keeps alive the spirit of Ann Niles' advocacy. Niles pushed for better sidewalks and crosswalks to make Portland a safe and comfortable place to walk, and for bicycle routes and parking to do the same for bicycling.

"This inaugural Ann Niles Transportation Lecture, and all those that follow, help spread Ann's passion for creating livable neighborhoods to students, practitioners and the greater community," said OTREC Director Jennifer Dill.

The series' first speaker, Pronovost, has helped bring active transportation into the lives of people in communities across Québec. As vice president for development and public affairs for Vélo Québec, he helps develop new projects and partnerships.

One of the most notable...

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Jun 26, 2013

Portland, Oregon is known for being a bike city, even called America's Best Bike City by Bicycling Magazine, so it's no surprise at all that Portland State University is full of bike enthusiasts.

Nowhere was that more clearly demonstrated than in Seattle last week, when 14 students and faculty from Portland State turned up to present their research at the International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium.
 
The Symposium, held on June 19-22 at the University of Washington, explored ways to plan cities around biking. There were international plenary panelists from China, The Netherlands, and New Zealand to offer a look at urban cycling around the world, and a mixture of research into bike-related planning efforts in the United States. 
 
Portland State was there in full force. Faculty researchers Jennifer Dill and John MacArthur presented research on the use of e-bikes in the United States, and what this could mean for the bicycle mode share.
 
PSU professor Miguel Figliozzi outlined ways of modeling the effects of weather on cycling ridership; a particularly relevant factor in the rainy Pacific Northwest....
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Jun 19, 2013

OTREC at Portland State University welcomed Eva Heinen of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, for a special seminar June 18. Around 40 people attended the presentation, held at the Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory and titled “Cycling in the Netherlands and Multi-Modality.”

Eva Heinen is assistant professor of infrastructure planning and mobility at the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen. She earned a Ph.D. from Delft University of Technology in 2011 focusing on bicycle commuting.

Many people in Groningen and The Netherlands as a whole combine transit and bicycling for trips. A typical configuration involves cycling from home to a train station and then renting another bicycle to reach the final destination, Heinen said.

Few people take bicycles on transit, Heinen said, and buses don’t offer bike racks or other accommodations. Folding bikes, whose compact size allows for portability, are one exception, Heinen said. Electric-assist bikes are also popular, particularly with older people.

Heinen has published many papers on cycling in international and national journals and has a large international network in cycling. She spent three months at the University of California in Davis as a visiting scholar. She is a member of the editorial board of Rooilijn, a Dutch journal for science and policy in spatial planning; a member of the Bicycle Committee; co-chair of the...

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May 20, 2013

What makes Americans’ travel behaviors so different from that of their West European counterparts? Longer trip distances? Higher rates of licenses and auto-ownership? A culture and economy that depends on the automobile industry? According to visiting scholar Ralph Buehler, none of these explain the differences in mode splits.

In partnership with Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP), Portland State University recently hosted visiting scholar Ralph Buehler at the Friday Transportation Seminar series. Dr. Buehler traveled west from Washington, D.C. where he is an Assistant Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute. Dr. Beuhler’s research and expertise is in multimodal planning and travel behaviors, with a focus on Western Europe and North America. 

Click here to view the webcast.

Dr. Buehler’s presentation, titled “Making Urban Transport Sustainable: Comparison of Germany and the US,” poked holes in many of the common theories explaining why Americans are more likely to use their cars for all their travel needs. Instead, he noted that, “transport policies have to explain the difference [in mode shares] over time, including the changes that have happened in Germany and those that have not happened in the US. ” His research has led him to identify four major policy...

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