Apr 30, 2013

A new transportation class at the University of Oregon, launched in January 2013 and funded by grants from OTREC and NITC, by all accounts had a wonderful first term.

Conceived as part of the curriculum for the Oregon Leadership in Sustainability (OLIS) program at U of O, the course, titled Sustainable Transportation, will be a permanent part of the OLIS class roster and will be open to all graduate students at the university.

The class this winter, led by instructors Ann Scheerer and Larisa Varela, taught applied research in a real-world setting. Students worked on planning projects for the university and for its home community, the City of Eugene, Ore.

On March 20, 2013, U of O's Transportation and Livability Student Group, LiveMove, hosted a public event where students were invited to present their research and interested community members were invited to attend.

The day of the presentations in Eugene was exciting; the “icing on the cake” for Scheerer. Marc Schlossberg, OTREC/NITC executive committee member at U of O and faculty advisor for LiveMove, was there, and so were some professors from the planning department, staff from the sustainability office, and quite a few local transportation advocates.

Scheerer, a PhD candidate...

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Apr 29, 2013

Six graduate students from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program at Portland State University have been awarded a national prize by the American Planning Association.

The research team, working under the name Celilo Planning Studio, won the 2013 APA student award for Application of the Planning Process.

Team members Danielle Fuchs, Michael Ahillen, Ellen Dorsey, Chloe Ritter, Sara Morrissey and Sarah Bronstein were honored for excellence in the way they carried out their project plan.

Ritter, Morrissey and Bronstein accepted the award on behalf of the group at the APA national conference this month in Chicago.

“We were very excited to attend APA and receive the award,” said Morrissey, the team’s communications director. “The conference is great to learn about what other cities are working on and get a feel of what’s going on.”

Morrissey and other members of the planning team have OTREC connections. She and Chloe Ritter worked with PSU professor Kelly Clifton on a consumer spending project, with a focus on cyclists and pedestrians. Sarah Bronstein has also worked on...

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Apr 12, 2013

OTREC research associate John MacArthur, in partnership with Drive Oregon, has been awarded a grant from Metro.

The grant is part of a $2.1 million effort by Metro to improve air quality and community health.

With the Metro grant, Drive Oregon and MacArthur plan to conduct a study of consumer perception and use of electric bicycles, pedal-bikes that provide extra propulsion from a rechargeable battery.

The idea is to see whether having the use of an e-bike will persuade non-bicycle-commuters to use a bike for the “first and last mile” of their daily commute; for example, to get from their workplace to the nearest MAX light rail station.

The e-bikes provided in the study will be foldable for convenient carrying onto the train. Ultimately, the partners of this study hope to increase the percentage of people who commute by bicycle and light rail, thus contributing to overall community health by reducing automobile emissions.

30 e-bikes will be loaned to 180 employees of Kaiser Permanente, at three designated work locations. Each participant will have the free use of an e-bike for one month, bookended by surveys about their expectations and perceptions of the experience.

MacArthur is conducting some overlapping research into e-bike use in a related OTREC...

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Apr 10, 2013

Bicycle commuters represent a significant chunk of business consumers in Portland, Ore., one of America's most bike-friendly cities. OTREC research in the past year has provided data on how cyclists and other mode users patronize local businesses.

The final OTREC research report is available on the project pageLead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University also presented her findings at the 2013 Oregon Active Transportation Summit in Salem.
The research found that bicycle consumers spend as much money, on average, as those who drive, and that local businesses can make an effort to attract this share of the market. The Plaid Pantry convenience store chain, a participant in the research, subsequently installed bike racks at 12 locations to make them more hospitable to cycling consumers, as first reported in a post on the Bike Portland blog.  
 
Efforts to promote active transportation often come...
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Mar 21, 2013

OTREC extends a warm welcome to Research Associate Krista Nordback, Ph.D., P.E., the newest member of the team. She just moved to Portland, Oregon after finishing up her Ph.D. in Denver, Colorado, to continue working on her favorite research focus: urban bicycle safety.

Nordback has been riding bikes since before she was old enough to remember. Together with her husband, Kurt, she continues to enjoy it as a form of both recreation and transportation. When the pair moved to Portland in February of this year, one of their first actions was to bike the Springwater Corridor, the Portland metro area’s 21-mile bike trail, all the way from Portland to Boring on their semi-recumbent tandem.

As a bicycle commuter, safety is one of Nordback’s top priorities, and it’s also the primary goal of her civil engineering research. In her PhD thesis, “Estimating Annual Average Daily Bicyclists and Analyzing Cyclist Safety at Urban Intersections,” she came up with methods for determining the average number of cyclists passing through a given intersection on a daily basis. In order to increase bicycle safety measures in urban areas, one of the first steps is simple yet essential: count the bikes. Having an understanding of the numbers of bicycles that traffic through an area is the starting point for coming up with...

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Mar 14, 2013

OTREC turned its education efforts on a decidedly younger crowd March 13: sixth graders. A class from Rochester, N.Y., visited Portland on a trip geared toward improving bicycling in their own community.

The students, from Genesee Community Charter School, visited the OTREC offices to learn about active transportation research methods. They took part in group exercises designed to get them thinking about the planning and engineering challenges of transportation systems set up to serve multiple transportation modes.

The highlight of the day came when the students took to Portland’s streets — OTREC’s living laboratory — to conduct research of their own. Armed with bicycle-counter tubes and infrared detectors, students counted cyclists and pedestrians passing on the Broadway cycle track on Portland State University’s campus.

Other students verified the technology with manual counters.

Students moved on to their next stop on a four-day tour of Portland with a better sense of what kind of data researchers collect and how they can use those data to inform policy. Given their experience — the students already have influenced their city on policy ranging from Erie Canal re-watering to an urban art corridor to skate parks — they stand a good chance of using Portland’s lessons to build a bike-friendly Rochester.

Dec 04, 2012
Efforts to promote active transportation often come up against concerns, from business owners, that any shift away from automobile use will mean fewer customers or less revenue.
 
In fact, this research indicates that, for the most part, how much people spend has little to do with what transportation mode they use.
 
Lead researcher Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, in a recent project, "Consumer Behavior and Travel Mode Choices," does highlight some key differences between transportation modes. People arriving by bus, bike or on foot average more trips per month to convenience stores, supermarkets, drinking establishments and restaurants than do people arriving by car. They also spend more per month at all types of establishments except supermarkets, where the auto users’ greater spending per trip more than makes up for their fewer trips.
 
Clifton offered some preliminary findings from this...
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Oct 29, 2012

This fall, the Friday transportation seminar series at Portland State University has focused on data collection and how information is used to make transportation investments. The Oct. 26 seminar, with the University of Minnesota’s Greg Lindsey, covered tracking and modeling travel behavior.

Engineers and planners alike have relied on traffic counts for their traffic models, but data behind bike and pedestrian travel has been fuzzy. Now, researchers such as Lindsey are offering new methods for conducting bike and pedestrian counts on trails and multiuse paths.

With little guidance from the Federal Highway Administration, Lindsey said, most of the efforts in creating best practices have bubbled up from communities like the Twin Cities, chosen as Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Cities. Lindsey and his researchers monitored six trails in Minneapolis, using inductive loops and infrared beams.

To address calibration problems and offer validity to their field numbers, Lindsey also sent students into the field to verify counts. The technology allowed for finer-grained detail, especially over a 24-hour period. OTREC Director Jennifer Dill noted, “Too much in the past we’ve lumped “bike and peds” together and your work and analysis is demonstrating that they truly are different modes, with different behaviors.”

Lindsey stressed the importance of conducting this type of research, and measuring our “bicycle miles traveled” and “pedestrian miles traveled” in...

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Jun 01, 2012

A project to create more miles of protected bike lanes in American cities, which launched this week, turned to OTREC researchers for the project’s research component. The Green Lane Project invited the researchers to Chicago for the project launch.

The Green Lane Project, a project of the Bikes Belong Foundation, chose six cities to serve as pilot sites for new designs and approaches to creating comfortable, separated bike routes such as cycle tracks, which may or may not be painted green. Being part of the project will enable the cities to share their experiences, get help with communication and coordinate with federal, state and local agencies.

The six cities are Austin, Texas; Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; San Fransicso; and Washington, D.C.

Portland State University researchers Chris Monsere, Kelly Clifton and OTREC Director Jennifer Dill went to Chicago for the launch and to meet potential research partners. They shared their research approach with representatives from the six cities.

After performing similar evaluations of bicycle facilities in Portland and Washington, D.C., the Portland State researchers are proposing to fine-tune and apply their methodology to the six project cities. The team would assess the safety, operations economic effects,...

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May 04, 2012

When Peter Furth returned from a sabbatical in the Netherlands inspired to make his home country as bike-friendly, he knew he’d encounter bicycle skeptics. What surprised him was the resistance he got from bicycle supporters.

Furth , a professor at Northeastern University and an OTREC visiting scholar, shared some of his research on low-stress bicycle networks in a talk May 4 at Portland State University. Click here for more information.

Even in recent years, bicycling advocacy organizations were dominated by followers John Forester’s concept of “vehicular cycling,” Furth said, and opposed to separated bicycle facilities. Cyclists should use the road, and be treated, like any other vehicle operators, according to this reasoning.

“People get an idea of what utopia is,” Furth said, “and their idea is just bikes operating like any other vehicle. The crazy thing is, it’s an experiment that has been lived out every day for the last 50 years. You can go out and do it today. It just doesn’t work. It’s just nutty.”

European cities have carried out their own massive experiment for decades as well, Furth said. “Millions of people every day are riding on separated facilities, and what is the outcome? Huge numbers of people riding: children, old people, men and women in equal numbers, and the bike fatality rate is 10 times lower than ours.”

...

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