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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Cross-posted from Oregon State University

Research by the Oregon State University College of Engineering and Portland State University suggests a trio of roadway treatments would enable people age 65 and older to travel on foot more safely.

The research findings are important because older pedestrians are among the most likely to be killed in traffic accidents, according to the National Safety Council. In the United States in 2020 there were 709 pedestrian fatalities in the 65-74 age group – 20% of total road-user deaths in that age bracket. The project used data from Oregon collisions but is likely applicable in other areas, and it provides a framework for jurisdictions to develop their own safety recommendations, said David Hurwitz of the OSU College of Engineering.

Findings of the study led by Chris Monsere of Portland State were published in the Transportation Research Record in May 2022, "Systemic Opportunities to Improve Older Pedestrian Safety: Merging Crash Data Analysis and a Stakeholder Workshop".

Hurwitz and Monsere, whose collaborative background includes a recent...

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In 2022, a PSU Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) team made headlines with their strategies to improve safety for houseless pedestrians. Cities across the U.S. are facing alarming increases in traffic fatalities, especially among the number of pedestrians who are struck and killed by drivers. In 2021, 70 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in Portland were of people experiencing houselessness. The MURP team Street Perspective, made up of Peter Domine, Nick Meusch, Asif Haque, Angie Martínez, Sean Doyle, and Meisha Whyte, investigated how to reduce the risk of being hit and killed specifically for unhoused people. 

As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is updating the city's Vision Zero Plan, the team provided PBOT with recommendations to reduce the risk of pedestrian fatalities among the city's vulnerable houseless communities.

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Despite widespread use of walking as a transportation mode, walking has received far less attention than the motor vehicle in terms of national guidance and methods to support planning, designing, and operating safe, functional, and comfortable facilities. To address this gap, the TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program funded NCHRP Project 17-87: Enhancing Pedestrian Volume Estimation and Developing HCM Pedestrian Methodologies for Safe and Sustainable Communities. Led by Principal Investigator Paul Ryus, Kittelson & Associates partnered with Portland State University and the Highway Safety Research Center at the University of North Carolina to lead research to update pedestrian analysis methodologies in the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM). 

The research team created the following new products, published in 2022 and free to download from the National Academies Press:

  • NCHRP Research Report 992: Guide to Pedestrian Analysis: Documents the state-of-the-practice for pedestrian volume counting, pedestrian safety analysis, and pedestrian operations analysis. A major portion of the research evaluated the effects of safety countermeasures at street crossings on pedestrian quality of service (QOS...
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Portland State University students interested in a career in advancing biking and walking can find financial support through two active transportation scholarships from the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at PSU. Since 2008, nineteen students have been awarded.

Mia Birk, the founding donor, is an independent consultant with 27 years of experience in helping to make cities more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. She served as the City of Portland's bicycle coordinator from 1993 to 1999, then as President and CEO of Alta Planning + Design until 2016. Her TED Talk makes the case for "Pedaling Towards a Healthier Planet," and her book, Joyride: Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet, tells the story of her twenty-year crusade to...

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How can we use a variety of data-driven speed management strategies to make transportation safer and more efficient for all modes–whether you’re driving, walking or taking transit?

The project was led by Yao Jan Wu, director of the Smart Transportation Lab at the University of Arizona. Co-investigators were Xianfeng Terry Yang of the University of Utah, who researches traffic operations and modeling along with connected automated vehicles, and Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University, whose research has focused on improving signal timing to better serve pedestrians. Join them on Sept 15, 2021 for a free webinar to learn more.

"We want to improve mobility for all users, be it pedestrians, vehicle drivers or transit riders, and there are different strategies to do this. How do we harness data to drive us to these strategies?" Kothuri said.

Funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), this multi-university collaboration addressed the question from three angles:

  • Wu and his students in Arizona looked at the impact of speed management strategies on conventional roadways...
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Street icons for bicycle and pedestrian
Photo by Cait McCusker
Nathan McNeil, Portland State University; Kristin Tufte, Portland State University

In the past decade bike and pedestrian count programs have sprung up all over the United States, gathering data to evaluate biking and walking infrastructure. However, these modes have not been studied with the quantitative rigor applied to motor vehicle travel. A research project funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), led by Nathan McNeil of Portland State University (PSU), offers a method for monitoring the quality of this bike-ped count data.

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Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing related presentations and download the full manual on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand from the researchers by tuning in for the webinar on December 4 (recording available post-webinar).

Prepared by TREC, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has just released a Manual on Pedestrian and Bicycle Connections to Transit.

TREC Director Jennifer Dill and TREC researcher Nathan McNeil worked with the FTA to develop the manual, a guidebook to creating a robust network for active transportation and transit users.

From defining "access sheds" to linking up transit and bike share, the newly published manual is a rich resource for planners and engineers looking to boost their city's bicycle and pedestrian transit access.

Dill and McNeil built the manual with a special...

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In 2014, NITC published a study on racial bias at crosswalks under a Small Starts grant. Read coverage of that project in the New York Times and Washington PostThe next phase of the research is now complete, with more comprehensive findings. 
 
Principal InvestigatorKimberly Kahn, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the two-page Project Brief, related presentations, and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page. Hear firsthand...
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While it’s generally accepted that dense, mixed-use development promotes active travel, researchers don’t have a consensus on exactly how, and to what degree, land use determines people’s travel patterns.

NITC’s latest report, Active Travel Behavior and Spatial-Temporal Land Use Mixing, provides some clarity on the topic.

NITC fellow Steven Gehrke focused his dissertation research on transportation-land use interaction, and sees land use mix as a multidimensional construct.

“We can refocus—away from increasing density—and think more about how we configure land uses,” Gehrke said.

According to Gehrke’s research, more density does not necessarily equal more walking. Rather, the complementarity, composition, and configuration of land use types is essential for cultivating walkability.

Gehrke, who graduates this spring with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering from Portland State University, conducted three empirical studies under his dissertation grant. The first focused on improving measurements of land use mix, introducing a land use mix measurement of the composition and configuration of local land use types.

The second study looked at other smart growth principles, like employment concentration and pedestrian-...

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