Jun 02, 2014

A research study released Monday by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities program offers the most comprehensive evaluation of protected bicycle lanes to date. The study, “Lessons from the Green Lanes,” examines recently installed protected bike lanes in five of the six founding PeopleForBikes Green Lane Project cities and provides the scientific basis for decisions that could improve bicycling in cities across the United States.

Protected bike lanes, sometimes called cycle tracks, are on-street lanes separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts to help organize the street and make riding a bike appealing for people of all ages and abilities. Because protected bike lanes are relatively new to the U.S., little academic research has existed to help leaders evaluate the risks and rewards of the investment in putting the facilities on the ground.

This study provides definitive evidence that people feel safe riding in protected lanes and that people traveling by car or foot also support building more protected lanes to separate bicycles and automobiles. It also provides insight on the safety, use and...

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May 20, 2014

In a pilot study funded by the NITC Small Starts program, researchers explored whether drivers behave differently toward pedestrians waiting to use a crosswalk based on the pedestrian’s race. The study – the first examining the effects of race on pedestrian crossing experiences – found that black pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and waited nearly a third longer to cross than white pedestrians.

Minorities are disproportionately represented among pedestrian fatalities in the United States. The Center for Disease Control reported in 2013 that in the first decade of this century, the fatality rates for black and Hispanic men were twice as high as they were for white men.

Researchers Kimberly Barsamian Kahn and Tara Goddard of Portland State University, and Arlie Adkins, of the University of Arizona, hypothesized that if minority pedestrians experience more delay at crosswalks, they might take greater risks when crossing – risks that could contribute to the disparate fatality rates.

Kahn, an assistant professor of social psychology, studies contemporary forms of racial bias that are hidden within society. Working with Goddard and Adkins, who were interested in the social equity impacts of transportation, Kahn put together a controlled field experiment to measure differences in...

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Feb 14, 2014

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program invites proposals for a third round of research, education, and technology transfer projects. The NITC program supports 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’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, and is a partnership between Portland State University and the University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology and the University of Utah.

The NITC program will award at least $750,000 in this funding round to research, education and technology transfer projects that support NITC’s theme. Projects should range from $30,000 to $150,000. Projects can focus on research, education, or technology transfer. All projects submitted for this request for proposals (RFP) will undergo peer review. All awards require one-to-one 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. Please refer to Section 3 of the linked document below for specific details. Projects awarded under this RFP may start as soon as August 1, 2014 and must be completed by December 31, 2015, including the final report.

Successful research proposals will fit the NITC theme, linking to articulated USDOT priorities:...

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Jan 06, 2014
Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.

Steven Farber, of the University of Utah, is conducting research for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) surrounding its potential move to a distance-based fare system.
Typically, transit fares are a flat fee based on a given window of time: riders may pay $2.50 to ride anywhere they wish within a two-hour period, for example.
This system can negatively impact low-income populations, who as a general rule tend to travel shorter distances than people in higher income brackets. In a flat fare system, many low-income riders end up subsidizing the longer trips of wealthier riders.
 
The UTA is considering changing its fares to a distance-based system, wherein riders would pay a fee determined by how far they travel.
Farber, along with co-investigators Keith Bartholomew and Xiao Li of the University of Utah, Antonio Páez of McMaster University, and Khandker M. Nurul Habib of the University of Toronto, conducted a spatial analysis of data from the Utah Household Travel Survey collected in Spring 2012.
They were searching specifically for...
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Dec 09, 2013

The NITC program's executive committee has selected a new roster of projects for funding under the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program. The committee chose 10 projects, totaling $900,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities.

The projects are national in scope and reflect priority areas including transit supply and outcomes, and pedestrian and bicyclist behavior. 

Projects selected include:

  • A bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled project for Washington state.
  • A study that measures the effectiveness on social media on advancing public transit.
  • A look into crowdsourcing the collection of data on transportation behavior.
  • A national study of Bus Rapid Transit outcomes.
The 10 projects were chosen from among 25 proposals with a total request of nearly $2.25 million. 

A complete list of projects and principal investigators is below:

  1. National Study of BRT Development Outcomes: Arthur Nelson and Joanna Ganning, University of Utah
  2. Crowdsourcing the Collection of Transportation Behavior Data: Christopher Bone, Ken Kato and Marc Schlossberg,...
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Dec 05, 2013

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) program invites proposals for the 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships. Fellowships up to $15,000 will be awarded to cover expenses for the recipient while working on their dissertation. NITC is focused on contributing to transportation projects that support innovations in: livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability

ELIGIBILITY

Students must be U.S. citizens and have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree prior to the application deadline. NITC fellowships are open to students currently enrolled in a transportation-related doctoral program at Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech) or the University of Utah (UU).

PROCESS

Applicants must submit one electronic copy (in PDF) of their proposal to Susan Peithman (peithman@pdx.edu) by January 31st, 2014. More information can be found by downloading the application here: NITC Dissertation Application.

ABOUT

This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration. The mission of the UTC program is to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms...

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Jun 21, 2013

Susan Petheram, a Ph.D. candidate in the Metropolitan Planning, Policy, & Design program at the University of Utah, has recently been awarded a NITC dissertation fellowship.

NITC fellowships are awarded to fund research on surface transportation topics that fit under the NITC theme of safe, healthy, and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities. Petheram's research focuses on the integration of transportation and land use, and on building healthy communities through transit access.

Her dissertation research involves evaluating some of the effects of the light rail system in Salt Lake County. Scarcely more than a decade old, the TRAX light rail system has three lines in service as of 2013, and some of the transportation researchers at the University of Utah are taking advantage of this living laboratory to explore the effects of a light rail system upon the neighborhoods and suburbs that it serves. 

Calvin Tribby, for example, another NTIC fellow from the University of Utah, is observing the new transit opportunities' effect on public health. Petheram's research focuses on a different angle: the light rail's effect on property values.

In particular, she is interested in finding out whether positive...

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Jun 19, 2013

Calvin Tribby, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah, was recently awarded one of NITC's 2013 dissertation fellowships.

Tribby is a doctoral student in the Geography Department at the University of Utah. His research focuses primarily on active transportation.
 
While examining the influences of the built environment on people’s travel mode choices, he also takes a look at the social context and perceptions revolving around active transportation modes.
 
Some of his work is part of a five-year National Institutes of Health grant to study the health outcomes and transportation choices of residents in response to changes in their neighborhood built environment.
 
Many of these changes can have an observable impact on residents’ overall health and lifestyle. Part of the NIH study includes observing the effects of a new light rail line and a “complete street” rehabilitation in Salt Lake City. 
In his research, Tribby finds ways to “summarize walkability” within activity spaces; or to provide an assessment of a neighborhood from the point of view of an active commuter, with transit concerns and...
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Jun 14, 2013

The 2013 NITC dissertation fellowships have been awarded, and Gail Meakins, of the University of Utah, has been selected for a $7,500 NITC fellowship to support her dissertation research.

Meakins's Ph.D. program of study combines her two fields of interest by studying the connection between the built environment and public health.

A former athletic director, Meakins made a major career change in 2008 to go back to school and study Urban Planning.

"My lifelong passion for, and interest in, physical activity and sport began at a very early age," she said. Always a competitive swimmer and runner, she became intrigued with city design over time.

After earning her Bachelor's and Master's of Arts in Physical Education from the University of California, Berkeley in the mid-1970's, Meakins worked for over 20 years in physical education and health at the middle school, high school, and collegiate level.

"Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to travel extensively, and developed a strong interest in both urban design and architecture," Meakins said. In the course of her travels, she couldn't help but notice wide differences between neighborhoods, in terms of the availability of active travel modes.

Her research focuses on the...

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Jan 10, 2013

A total of 133 researchers from OTREC campuses will have their work featured at the Transportation Research Board national conference the week of Jan. 13 in Washington, D.C. Seventy-two separate sessions will feature research from Portland State University, the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the University of Utah.

The weeklong conference is the event of the year for transportation researchers across the country and an important opportunity for students and faculty to share research results, learn best practices and network.

As OTREC prides itself on developing the next generation of the transportation workforce, students are well represented at the conference. Nearly 50 students will have their research presented at lectern or poster sessions and many of those students are the lead authors of papers accepted for the conference.

Portland State University alone is sending 30 graduate and undergraduate students to the conference. Katherine Bell, a Portland state graduate student, will present research at a freight planning and logistics session on Monday. Bell worked with Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State’s civil and environmental engineering department on an OTREC research project that could mark a sea change in how freight data is collected and used.

Oregon is one of a few states to collect a tax on heavy trucks based on their weight and miles driven. In 2010, The Oregon Department of Transportation started a pilot project to...

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