May 20, 2013

What makes Americans’ travel behaviors so different from that of their West European counterparts? Longer trip distances? Higher rates of licenses and auto-ownership? A culture and economy that depends on the automobile industry? According to visiting scholar Ralph Buehler, none of these explain the differences in mode splits.

In partnership with Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP), Portland State University recently hosted visiting scholar Ralph Buehler at the Friday Transportation Seminar series. Dr. Buehler traveled west from Washington, D.C. where he is an Assistant Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech’s Metropolitan Institute. Dr. Beuhler’s research and expertise is in multimodal planning and travel behaviors, with a focus on Western Europe and North America. 

Click here to view the webcast.

Dr. Buehler’s presentation, titled “Making Urban Transport Sustainable: Comparison of Germany and the US,” poked holes in many of the common theories explaining why Americans are more likely to use their cars for all their travel needs. Instead, he noted that, “transport policies have to explain the difference [in mode shares] over time, including the changes that have happened in Germany and those that have not happened in the US. ” His research has led him to identify four major policy...

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Apr 03, 2013

David Timm, P.E., the Brasfield & Gorrie Professor of Civil Engineering at Auburn University, traveled to Oregon in mid-March as part of the NITC Visiting Scholar program.

Timm is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading expert in the field of perpetual pavement, a sustainable approach to pavement design. He is also the author of a perpetual pavement design software, PerRoad. Engineers in this field have developed a pavement system that has the potential to last for up to 50 years, with only minor periodic surface repairs.

The visit, arranged by Oregon Tech’s NITC Executive Committee member Roger Lindgren, started with a March 13 PerRoad workshop in Salem. The workshop was attended by designers from industry and from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

On March 14, Timm led another PerRoad workshop on the campus of Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls. Following the workshop was a presentation, focusing on perpetual pavement design and the advancements being made at Auburn’s National Center for Asphalt Technology (NCAT).

The Klamath Falls workshop was attended by 14 engineers and engineering students, with 53 people attending the presentation afterward.

Feb 27, 2013

The Oregon Institute of Technology welcomed the head of the Asphalt Pavement Association of Oregon for the Oregon Tech NITC Visiting Scholar Seminar. Jim Huddleston, the association’s executive director, spoke Feb. 21 at Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus.

The seminar drew 45 people, including students, faculty and professionals from local consulting engineering firms.

Huddleston, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Oregon State University, has more than 20 years’ experience in pavement design, construction and analysis. He is one of the nation’s leading experts on asphalt roadways, including innovative and sustainable applications such as recycled, warm-mix and porous pavements.

On his visit, Huddleston also congratulated Oregon Tech senior Zachary Hudspeth on winning an Asphalt Pavement Association of Oregon scholarship in December. Hudspeth is the president of Oregon Tech’s Institute of Transportation Engineers student chapter.

The seminar and student group are supported by OTREC’s National Institute for Transportation and Communities program.

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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Oct 13, 2010

When engineers focus on transportation systems, they often produce brilliant solutions. Sometimes, however, they focus in the wrong place.

 “Engineers are really good; if you tell them, ‘This is what we want to accomplish,’ they’ll do it,” said Peter Jacobsen, himself an engineer and a public health consultant. “But traffic safety hasn’t had a good scientific, evidence-based approach that we have in, say, nuclear-power-plant design.”

Jacobsen, Portland State University’s first visiting scholar this school year, will present the Vision Zero concept at Friday’s transportation seminar. Vision Zero resets the goal of transportation systems from reducing total crashes to eliminating fatalities.

“The way engineers currently look at the road system is to look at crashes,” Jacobsen said. “Vision Zero folks say to look at health: not to have fatalities or permanent disabling injuries.”

Designing for health means respecting the limits of the human body. If crossing into oncoming traffic could produce head-on collisions with a greater force than people could survive, then Vision Zero says to separate that traffic. Roundabouts reduce the likelihood of dangerous side-impact collisions.

Vision Zero could have the largest effect closer to home. Jacobsen has pushed for colleagues to consider traffic from a child’s perspective. A residential street that might be perfectly...

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Mar 16, 2010

DSC_0022 In the last of the livability seminar series, OTREC's visiting scholars program welcomed Shawn Turner from the Texas Transportation Institute. Shawn's research spans the gamut of intelligent transportation systems data to bicycle and pedestrian issues.  Most recently, Shawn participated in the International Scan on Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Mobility.  His presentation compared his experiences on the scan in Europe to those in China.  During his presentation, he posed three challenges to Oregon:

  • How does active transportation contribute to economic development?
  • What is the tipping point for behavior and behavioral change?
  • Can vanity play a role in social acceptance?

His presentation was followed by a discussion with local agencies, faculty, students and partners along with a 10-mile tour of innovative bike infrastructure in Portland.  Thank goodness...

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