Nov 30, 2012

PSU’s Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP) hosted the 10th Annual Region X Conference on November 16, and it was the most widely-attended Region X event in recent memory.  With participating universities including Oregon State University, Cal Poly Pomona, University of Oregon, University of Utah, University of Washington and Washington State University, the more than 100 registrants “really surprised” STEP President S. R. Thompson. “The turnout was high compared to previous years.” This is likely in part due to the first-time participation of the two Washington schools.

This year’s conference featured student research presentations and a poster session, as well as three afternoon breakout sessions that offered tours of effective transportation engineering examples in the Portland Metro area. Thompson reports a unanimously positive response to the breakout sessions from those tour participants who followed up with her after the conference adjourned.

The conference’s morning keynote was also popular and garnered plenty of student participation in the discussion that followed. “We did things a little differently for the keynote presentation this year,” Thompson said. The presentation featured a panel of notable transportation professionals from the Portland area who each discussed their respective entries into the transportation field as well as the joys and challenges of the work.

"We were lucky in terms of our panel...

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Sep 20, 2011

In transportation funding decisions, you don’t count until you’re counted. That fact can lead to cyclists and pedestrians, often overlooked in traffic counts, getting less than their share of transportation money. OTREC hosted a conference Sept. 15 to address that problem.

“Without the data, you have an incomplete picture of how the (transportation) system is being used,” said OTREC researcher Chris Monsere, the conference organizer. “And it’s easier to make the case for resources if you know how the system is being used.”

The conference, called the “Bike and Pedestrian Program Information Exchange & Technology Transfer Summit Meeting,” brought together officials from local and state transportation agencies and consultants to share features of the best counting programs and technology. The forum helped bridge a gap between people who count motor vehicles and those who count bicycle and pedestrian traffic.  

“We wanted to raise a little awareness of both sides of the equation,” Monsere said. “There are things both can learn from the other.” <All presentations available  for download at the end of this article>

Nonmotorized counting programs often get large numbers of motivated people involved quickly and have a strong network for distributing results of counts. Motorized counts tend to be more systematic and uniform.

The motorized traffic counts have a jump on their non-motorized counterparts, Monsere said. That’s largely a result of...

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Feb 03, 2011

As a bicycle advocate in the early 1990s, Mia Birk was young, idealistic and unaware of the struggles she would face, she told a Eugene audience, with many of those attending in much the same position Birk once found herself in. Birk spoke at the “Movers and Shakers: Connecting People and Places” series presented by LiveMove, the University of Oregon transportation and livability student group.

Birk’s story started in her native Dallas, where her family drove everywhere, even across the street. “It never occurred to us to walk, and it never occurred to us that this was anything but normal.”

When the lifestyle left her overweight and unhappy, Birk found a way out through bicycling. She came to Portland to spread that happiness as the city’s bicycle coordinator in 1993.

It wasn’t so easy, Birk said, and took battles that went far beyond bikes. Opponents emerged quickly from all sectors; it took a while for allies to coalesce.

“Bicycling doesn’t exist on its own,” she said. “You need really sensible land use policy so you can choose bicycling. Good transit is really critical; really good neighborhoods with local schools and bicycle transportation—they all go hand in hand.”

Even the best bike lanes and separated paths won’t get everyone on a bike, Birk said. European cities with high ridership use the carrot-and-stick approach combining incentives for bicycling and disincentives for driving...

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