As we prepare for the next step in our development as a center, we're taking a look back at the seven years since OTREC's founding:

The Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, or OTREC, was founded in 2006 with a theme that emphasized advanced technology, the integration of transportation and land use, and healthy communities. OTREC’s mission is to inform transportation decision making through timely, useful primary research and to build the capacity of the transportation workforce.

Reflecting the DOT mission, OTREC promotes choices that make our transportation system safe, resilient and adaptable. Providing access to travel options that promote the health of our communities and our environment makes our country stronger.

From the research that makes our communities living laboratories to the innovative education and technology transfer efforts that wed research and practice, our programs lay the groundwork for livable communities. Our advanced technology projects have shown the effect of traffic-signal timing on pedestrians’ exposure to pollution and helped a state Department of Transportation place sensors to best estimate travel times for the least cost. Our healthy communities projects have helped shape...

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OTREC was proud to bring about the fifth annual Oregon Transportation Summit on Monday, September 16, with the help of the Portland Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Oregon Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.
The OTS is the Pacific Northwest’s premier transportation conference. It brings together Oregon’s academic and practicing transportation professionals to advance the state of the art by accelerating new research into practice and shaping the agenda for future research.
This year’s summit featured keynote speaker Taras Grescoe, author of the book Straphanger. Grescoe shared his insights as an extensive traveler, speaking about the “debasement of public space” that he believes has been brought on by the culture of the automobile.
The plenary speaker, Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution, offered some insights on MAP-21, a new act which was passed by Congress in 2012. Short for "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century," the act redistributes the scope and responsibilities of transportation departments in the US.
 
OTREC's education and technology transfer program manager Jon Makler, the summit's coordinator, was pleased with the attendance and positive energy of this year's summit.
Student research from all four of...
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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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The Portland State University transportation group STEP, for Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning, offered their take on the Oregon Transportation Summit, held Sept. 10 in Portland. The summit featured a poster exhibit with 22 posters, including 19 student posters.

"It was a great experience to talk with professionals in industry and government to get their feedback on the application of our research," Kristi Currans said of research she presented at the summit's poster exhibit.

Click here to read the full entry on the STEP website.

OTREC held the Oregon Transportation Summit Sept. 10 at Portland State University. The fourth annual summit featured a plenary session on the future of metropolitan planning organizations and workshops on topics ranging from car and bike sharing to the economics of transportation systems. Keynote speaker Eran Ben-Joseph of MIT's City Design and Development program discussed the design and culture of parking. Students presented OTREC-funded research at a poster exhibit.

Photos from the summit are below. Click here to view the full photo set on flickr.

Most presentations from the summit are also available for download here.

Some people go to great lengths searching for parking, but perhaps none more so than Eran Ben-Joseph. Ben-Joseph, head of the Joint Program in City Design and Development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had a different mission than most: find a well-designed lot to highlight in his site-planning course.

 “Students always ask, ‘Can you show us some good parking lots?’” Ben-Joseph said. “And it was mind-boggling how you just couldn’t find enough.”

Ben-Joseph’s search led to his latest book, “ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking.” Ben-Joseph details his exploration of parking Sept. 10 as the keynote speaker of the Oregon Transportation Summit.

Some parking lots are well vegetated or handle runoff well, Ben-Joseph said. But few stand up as well-planned, well-designed case studies. In part, he said, you get what you ask for. And communities haven’t held lots to comparable standards as buildings or roads.

“From a regulation standpoint, I found that in most cases, the code is very minimal,” Ben-Joseph said. “It might say, ‘You need one tree for every five cars, enter here, exit here,’ but not how to lay it out.”

Parking lots make an easy target, Ben-Joseph said. But he didn’t set out to attack them any more than to defend them.

“Parking is as much of a hot potato as politics is now....

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The third annual Oregon Transportation Summit drew 275 people to Portland State University for what has become a leading regional venue to connect transportation professionals with each other and with academic researchers. Workshops and plenary sessions spread some of the best ideas in transportation, while a poster session shared the latest research from OTREC faculty and students.

The OTREC awards honored leaders in their field. In an emotional presentation, Chris Achterman accepted the Peter DeFazio Transportation Hall of Fame award on behalf of his sister, Gail Achterman, who recently stepped down as chair of the Oregon Transportation Commission and is undergoing chemotherapy.

Achterman brought a different perspective to the commission, OTREC Director Jennifer Dill said in presenting the award. “Gail’s direction helped the Oregon Department of Transportation redefine itself, emphasizing active and multimodal transportation,” Dill said. “With her diverse background and open mind, she has welcomed the best ideas from multiple disciplines, recognizing their implication for transportation.”

In prepared remarks, Achterman returned the praise. “The Summit is only one of the Oregon...

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Designing efficient transit systems is only one piece of the puzzle. Getting people to use them is another.

In his bestselling “Transit Maps of the World” and followup work “Paris Metro Style: In Map and Station Design,” Mark Ovenden detailed the beauty of maps people use to navigate transit systems and of the stations themselves.

“When you walk into the Paris Metro system, with its art nouveau stations, it does affect you, whether you notice it or not,” Ovenden said. “It feels nice to be in. It encourages people to use the train.”

Ovenden will offer his take on transportation systems as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Transportation Summit, Friday, Sept. 9 at Portland State University.

Ovenden vaulted to fame with “Transit Maps of the World” after a career in radio and television. But he always had an interest in collecting maps and riding transit systems. “On a school trip to Paris at 9 or 10, I just wanted to ride the Metro all day,” he said. “The teacher said, ‘no, come with us to the Eiffel Tower, you idiot.’”

Even out of context, the maps Ovenden compiled serve as an art work. But much of their beauty lies in their function: getting people around smoothly. Some of the best maps, such as...

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Nearly two weeks after the Oregon Transportation Summit, we've had a chance to process your feedback. The most encouraging result? You'll be back.

A full 83 percent of survey respondents agree or strongly agree that they'll return for the 2011 summit. That's compared to the 43 percent of 2010 participants who attended last year.

Participants rated the workshop sessions as the most valueable aspect of the summit, at 51 percent, followed by the morning plenary session, the networking opportunities and the luncheon keynote. The keynote speaker, Peter Hessler, received high marks for his presentation on driving in China.

Speaking of which, we've posted clips from Hessler's talk, along with the full OTREC awards presentations, at the OTREC YouTube site.

The second Oregon Transportation Summit followed in the footsteps of last year's inaugural summit, bringing academics and transportation professionals from a wide range of disciplines together to share their work. This year's summit drew even more people than the first.

New Yorker writer Peter Hessler gave the keynote address, reading and recounting stories from his book "Country Driving." Sometimes somber, often hilarious, Hessler's presentation enchanted the luncheon crowd at Portland State University's Smith Memorial Student Union Sept. 10.

Joshua Schank of the Bipartisan Policy Center gave a frank assesment of performance measures in transportation and the chance for change in a deeply divided Congress. Terry Moore of ECONorthwest gave a detailed and entertaining local response.

Popular breakout session topics included the Transportation Planning Rule cagematch, performance-based desicion-making and transportation governance.

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