A new transportation comic, "Moving From Cars To People (PDF)," offers a succinct and fun introduction to a complicated topic: namely, how the built environment in the United States came to be designed for cars and what we can do about it.

Want a physical copy? Here are a few ways to get one:

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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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Orange e-scooters on the road in Portland, Oregon
Michael McQueen, Portland State University

Is shared micromobility the ideal first/last mile supplement to transit? Can electric scooters make it easier for historically disadvantaged populations to get around? In just three years, brand-new fleets of e-scooters have substantially disrupted and altered the urban mobility landscape. For proponents, it's tempting to view them as a new answer to old problems. A just-released study finds however, that while there is potential for improved mobility if they are paired with other interventions, the shiny rows of e-scooters parked around cities aren't a catchall solution for our longstanding issues.

Portland State University (PSU) graduate Michael McQueen surveyed nearly 2,000 PSU students in his masters thesis, "Comparing the Promise and Reality of E-Scooters: A...

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Cars waiting at a traffic signal
Photo by Canetti
Principal Investigator: Gerardo Lafferriere, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Automobile traffic congestion in urban areas comes with significant economic and social costs for everyone. According to the 2015 Urban Mobility Report, the total additional cost of congestion was $160 billion. As more people move to metropolitan areas, the problems only intensify. The latest NITC report offers a new approach to urban traffic signal control based on network consensus control theory which is computationally efficient, responsive to local congestion, and at the same time has the potential for congestion management at the network level.

Traffic signals represent a significant bottleneck. As...

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Pedestrians crossing a street
Principal Investigator: Kelly Clifton, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The latest NITC report offers improved tools for pedestrian modeling.

Led by Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, researchers had previously created the the MoPeD pedestrian demand model as well as a pedestrian index of the environment (PIE) for forecasting pedestrian travel. The PIE index improved the sensitivity of walk trip models by incorporating contextual features of the built environment that affect walking behavior in the Portland, Oregon region. Read about Clifton's previous body of work on context-specific modeling.

Useful for academic researchers in transportation, Clifton's research provides a framework for incorporating pedestrian travel behavior forecasts into traditional four-step travel demand models.

Since the method was based on Portland, the next step was to adapt the tools for wider use. In this new report, Clifton and Jaime Orrego-Onate of...

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A red car travels along a highway
Photo by Felix Tchverkin on Unsplash
Principal Investigator: Liming Wang, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing related publications, open-source data, and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

The latest report from The National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) offers help to planners seeking to incorporate emerging travel modes—including car sharing, bike sharing, ride hailing, and autonomous vehicles—into regional travel demand models. More specifically, it brings these new travel modes into the Regional Strategic Planning Model (RSPM) tool. As more people start taking advantage of new...

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Sunday, the first day of the Transportation Research Board annual meeting in Washington, D.C., is workshop day. Portland State University doctoral student Tara Goddard presents in a showcase of research stemming from the prestigious Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship program.

Goddard probed the question of why so many bicyclists die in traffic crashes. Cyclists are 12 times more likely to be killed in a crash than a driver or passenger in a car. She wondered what role drivers' attitudes toward cyclists might play.

Goddard's research uses a survey to measure drivers' attitudes and self-reported behaviors and to test drivers' implicit attitudes toward both other drivers and cyclists. She pairs the survey piece with a lab experiment that uses hazard-perception video clips to examine whether drivers notice cyclists. 

By this approach, Goddard hopes to understand drivers' attitudes and whether those attitudes can predict how they act on the road. That understanding can potentially lead to steps to improve cyclist safety. Her workshop runs 9 a.m. to noon in Room 202B of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Disaster recovery workshop

John MacArthur of TREC presents "Smart, Shared and Social: Enhancing All-Hazards Recovery Plans With Demand...

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A new NITC project has developed a robust pedestrian demand estimation tool, the first of its kind in the country.

Using the tool, planners can predict pedestrian trips with spatial acuity.

The research was completed in partnership with Oregon Metro, and will allow Metro to allocate infrastructure based on pedestrian demand in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area.

In a previous project completed last year as part of the same partnership, the lead investigator, Kelly Clifton, developed a way to collect data about the pedestrian environment on a small, neighborhood scale that made sense for walk trips. For more about how that works, click here to read our news coverage of that project. 

Following the initial project, the next step was to take that micro-level pedestrian data and use it to predict destination choice. For every walk trip generated by the model in the first project, this tool matches it to a likely destination based on traveler characteristics and environmental attributes.

Patrick Singleton, a graduate student researcher at Portland State...

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A new study led by Miguel Figliozzi of Portland State University provides a microscopic evaluation of how two advanced traffic control technologies work together.

Powell Boulevard, an east-west arterial corridor in southeast Portland, Oregon, has been the focus of several research studies by Figliozzi’s TTP research lab. The street is a key route for public transit buses as well as pedestrians and cars, but heavy traffic at peak hours often results in delays.

On Powell there are two systems operating concurrently: a demand-responsive traffic signal system called Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System (SCATS) and a Transit Signal Priority (TSP) system. The TSP in the Portland metro region is designed to give priority to late buses and to boost transit performance.

In previous studies Figliozzi’s lab has analyzed a multitude of factors on Powell Boulevard including traffic congestion, transit times, air quality and cyclists’ intake of air pollutants, and a before/after evaluation of SCATS.

For this study, the researchers used a novel approach to evaluate how well SCATS and TSP work together by integrating three major data sources and video recordings at individual intersections.

Figliozzi’s team worked closely with TriMet and the City of Portland to...

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OTREC research from Portland State University has developed a new method of travel demand modeling for pedestrian trips.

Transportation professionals use travel demand modeling to forecast how many people will be using a given portion of the transportation infrastructure. This is typically done using a four-step process, the first step of which relies upon a basic unit known as a transportation analysis zone, or TAZ.

A TAZ is a relatively coarse unit of space that can vary in size depending on planners’ needs; typically it encompasses somewhere around 3,000 residents.

Planners started using TAZs in the 1950s, on mainframe computers with limited capabilities, for guidance in making highway investment decisions. As transportation modeling practice has evolved, computers are capable of processing more data and models are being increasingly relied upon to answer more complex questions. 

Despite growing investment in infrastructure that supports active forms of travel, existing modeling tools often poorly represent the nuances of the pedestrian environment. The project’s principal investigator, Kelly Clifton of Portland State University, explores ways to improve upon the modeling tools currently in existence.

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