Navigating an unfamiliar place is uniquely challenging for people with disabilities. People with blindness, deafblindness, visual impairment or low vision, as well as those who use wheelchairs, can travel more independently in urban areas with the aid of effective wayfinding technology. A new report from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) explores how to leverage low-cost methods to enable people to more easily move through public, urban indoor and outdoor spaces.

The study, led by Martin Swobodzinski and Amy Parker of Portland State University, used focus groups, two case studies, and an in-person structured wayfinding experience on the PSU campus to find the most helpful ways of getting around. Tactile maps were found to be a very useful resource, with an accessible mobile app also showing promise as an orientation and mobility aid.

The researcher will share more details about this project in a free webinar on December 15: Individual Wayfinding in the Context of Visual Impairment, Blindness, and Deafblindness.

WHY IS THIS RESEARCH IMPORTANT?

Environments and...

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Researchers Ivis Garcia, Sadika Maheruma Khan, and Kevin Fagundo-Ojeda of the University of Utah with Miriam Abelson and Nicholas Puczkowskyj of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment.

Scholarship on gendered mobilities has shown that women experience transit differently than men do, particularly regarding personal safety. The article, "Harassment of low-income women on transit: A photovoice project in Oregon and Utah," makes a unique contribution to this body of literature because it shows that women feel targeted also based on their racial or ethnic identity and not only their gender. The article discusses women’s actions every day to increase their sense of safety.

Research has shown that low-income women who are...

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Students at Hood River Middle School in Hood River, Oregon, will get some hands-on transportation experience next spring as they participate in the redesign of bike and pedestrian infrastructure around their school. Members of the (tentatively named) "Better Blocks Club," a new after-school extracurricular club, will get the chance to observe infrastructure, go on field trips by bike, learn urban planning best practices, and be involved in implementing a pilot safety project.

They'll be helping to plan and install new pop-up pedestrian and bike facilities at the intersection of May Street and 17th/18th Streets, a dogleg intersection adjacent to their school. The intersection design, which will include a protected intersection near the school and pop-up mobility lanes on the approaching streets, was created by PSU civil engineering students as part of the Better Block PSU program.

After the 6-month pilot demonstration is complete, the project will undergo community feedback and design modifications before infrastructure is permanently installed by the City of Hood River.

Left: Intersection of 17th/May St (Google Street View, 2022). Right: Map of the project location.

HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT?

The project is led by Megan Ramey, Hood River County School District's Safe Routes to School...

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Researchers Jennifer Dill, Jiahui Ma, Nathan McNeil, Joseph Broach and John MacArthur of Portland State University have published a new article in the November 2022 issue of Transportation Part D: Transport and Environment. The open-access article, "Factors influencing bike share among underserved populations: Evidence from three U.S. cities," examines bike share use and interest among lower-income residents and people of color in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

There is evidence that lower-income and people of color (POC) in the U.S. do not use bike share as much as higher-income and white people. Using data from residents living near bike share stations in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia, the paper examines reasons for these disparities. Researchers looked at many factors that might explain bike share use and interest in lower-income, racially diverse, traditionally underserved neighborhoods. They focused on residents who live near bike share stations, so that proximity would not be a barrier.

A few key findings:

  1. People who are not members, but are interested in using bike share, including POC, are motivated to use bike share for fun, recreation, and social reasons (as opposed to utility).
  2. Knowledge of bike share and receiving information from interactive sources (for example,...
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When the COVID-19 pandemic first swept across North America and led to emergency shutdowns during the spring of 2020, the way people acquired food and household necessities was dramatically impacted. As stay-at-home orders minimized personal travel, transit services were reduced and many stores and restaurants either closed or modified their operations. 

Some of the gaps were filled by online retailers and delivery services. However, access to goods and services varied substantially depending on people's age, income level, and ability.

A new multi-university study funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the U.S. DOT-funded university transportation headquartered at Portland State University, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) captured how households responded as local, state, and federal governments imposed and lifted restrictions, brick-and-mortar establishments closed and reopened, and e-commerce and delivery services adjusted to the changing conditions.

The findings of this research are critical for emergency planning, but also for understanding the ever-changing mechanisms used to access retail and service opportunities (whether in person or online). The research identifies opportunities for future interventions to remedy barriers to accessing food, which will...

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Travel time reliability – or the consistency and dependability of travel times from day to day, and at different times of day – is a key metric that significantly affects people’s travel behavior. Since businesses rely heavily on transportation systems, an unreliable transportation network can also impact the economic competitiveness of urban areas. As such, reliable travel times are important for transportation agencies to promote economic stability within a community. Having accurate methods to evaluate reliability is important for both transportation practitioners and researchers.

A new report from Portland State University offers an improved method for determining the confidence interval of travel time reliability metrics. Researchers Avinash Unnikrishnan, Subhash Kochar and Miguel Figliozzi of PSU’s Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science used a highway corridor in Portland, Oregon as a case study to evaluate their method, and found that it compared favorably with other methods of evaluating the confidence interval of travel time reliability metrics.

"Traffic engineers can apply this method to come up with a range of estimates for the unknown true travel time reliability metric. The travel time reliability metrics calculated by traffic engineers and transportation planners will have variability due to factors such as road...

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A group of nine transportation students traveled to Denmark and Sweden this past summer, to meet with planners and engineers and get a feel for on-the-ground transportation in Copenhagen and Stockholm. They explored the area by rail, foot, bike and boat, in between presentations and tours led by professionals. 

Portland State University's Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC)'s associate director, Hau Hagedorn, and sustainable transportation program manager, John MacArthur, led the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) Study Abroad program. See photos from the trip.

In past years they've traveled to the Netherlands to experience the Dutch approach to cycling infrastructure and multimodal travel. This year, they decided to expand the mission. Copenhagen, like Amserdam, is sometimes referred to as the cycling capital of the world. Stockholm, along with some...

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We are proud to introduce four new transportation scholarship recipients at Portland State University for the 2022/23 academic year. Congratulations to Peter Domine, Lise Ferguson, Kyu Ri Kim, and Valeria Tapia, all students in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning!

Scholarships are made possible by the generosity of donors who want to invest in the future of Portland State students. PSU students work on real transportation system projects with partners in our community. Through scholarships, we can support students in overcoming barriers to funding as well as acknowledging those who go above and beyond in advancing transportation. Learn more about PSU transportation funding opportunities and read about past transportation scholars.

Peter Domine

Recipient of the Walter H. Kramer Endowed Transportation Fellowship

I am a lifelong Oregonian and Salemite. I love history, which is where much of my interest in urban planning came from. I am fascinated by many subjects and that is also why I enjoy...

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How can community members become more engaged in transportation decision making?

Individuals and groups can learn to effect powerful change, but success requires some familiarity with how civic processes work. Community Transportation Academies, or CTAs, provide a basic technical understanding of how a city or region’s transportation system operates, along with the decision makers and decision-making processes that determine how the system is shaped.

Supported by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the new Wasatch Transportation Academy (WTA) at the University of Utah was piloted in 2022 in the Salt Lake City region. The research team developed a course vision, topics, and logistics for the WTA by interviewing stakeholders in the Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget, the Utah Department of Transportation, the Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, and the Wasatch Front Regional Council. Led by Nathan McNeil of Portland State University and Keith Bartholomew of the University of Utah, the WTA used the established Portland Traffic and Transportation class in Portland, Oregon as a framework. 

...

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We're proud to announce that the Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE) has awarded Portland State University's ITE Student Chapter, Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (ITE-STEP), the 2022 Student Chapter Momentum Award. The award recognizes the student group for an outstanding year of accomplishments.

This year's ITE-STEP leadership made big strides in activating and energizing the student chapter. They hit the ground running after being elected, to prepare for Transportation Research Board (TRB) scholarship applications, through which they leveraged UTC funding from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities to send ten PSU students to attend the TRB annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

"The award shows the dedication and commitment that the ITE-STEP board provided. Despite having full-time academic schedules, internships and jobs, and COVID-19 issues, the board stayed committed to holding frequent online and in person...

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