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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Founded to collect the transportation data created by agencies across the region, Portal had done its job almost too well. The data archive, a program of TREC, had taken in more data than it could make available.

Portal started in 2004 with just one data source: Oregon freeway loop detectors. Over the years, it grew into a truly multimodal data archive, incorporating transit data, traffic signal data, bicycle and pedestrian counts – eight data sources spanning two states and multiple agencies.

Its budget didn’t grow proportionately, however, leaving Portal less able to make use of the data it collected. Portal’s $125,000 in regional transportation money just kept the system running, said Portal director Kristin Tufte. “It was enough money to keep the lights on,” she said.

Given Portal’s potential to help agencies improve operations and researchers to address systemwide issues, that wasn’t enough. The information had to be accessible to make a difference.

A boost in support for Portal is helping to make that possible. With a grant from the Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State, TREC hired a Portal programmer this year to present the data visually.

Though key to Portal’s future...

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Transit supporters offer up a host of arguments for their favorite form of transportation but may struggle to counter a response of “prove it.” This year’s Oregon Transportation Summit could help change that.

Fresh research showing some of the benefits of transit will keep the public transportation track lively and relevant during the sixth annual summit. Morning and afternoon workshops spotlight transit, bookending a luncheon keynote by noted transit planner Jarrett Walker.

The Oregon Transportation Summit takes place Monday, Sept. 15 at Portland State University.

University of Utah researcher Reid Ewing made national and international headlines recently with a study showing the effect of light rail in a busy travel corridor. The study, funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, was the first to document a drop in automobile traffic after the opening of a light-rail line. Ewing presents his research at a...

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The Multnomah Youth Commission, or MYC, held its first Youth Summit on Transit Justice on May 17, 2014 at David Douglas High School.
 
The MYC, a group of young people ages 13-21, plays an advisory role for local government in Multnomah County and the City of Portland.
 
The summit held on Saturday the 17th was an entirely youth-led event, with members of the MYC meeting at David Douglas at 11 a.m. After they spent the morning organizing their materials and preparing their arguments, they opened the doors for adults.
 
PSU professor Lisa Bates, who is studying the transit-dependent population for NITC, was in attendance with her capstone students. As part of a capstone course where students are required to conduct research that leads directly into social equity, Bates’ students worked with the youth of the MYC on transit justice. They applied a social science research foundation to their ideas and assisted them with using some best practices in the field. 
 
At 2:30 p.m., transit policymakers and community leaders began to enter the high school. Following a brief introductory presentation, the young people split up the group into breakout sessions.
 
During the sessions, members of the...
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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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More attractive streetscapes often lead to an increase in private development, but it can be difficult to visualize future results when they are just potential.

An OTREC Small Starts research project has developed a workflow to create streetscape illustrations for Metro, the regional government for the Portland, Ore. metropolitan area.

Data-driven illustrations that depict planning scenarios are an effective way to communicate to decision makers the results that their investment could bring about. In line with the Oregon Legislature’s greenhouse gas reduction targets, Metro launched the Climate Smart Communities Scenarios Project in 2011.

As part of this project, Metro has developed investment scenarios designed to reduce light vehicle carbon emissions. These scenarios represent potential improvements to urban centers, corridors and employment areas. Improvements such as providing services and shopping near where people live, expanding transit service, managing parking, and providing safer routes for walking and biking can increase transit ridership, support more active travel modes, and thereby reduce pollution.

Principal Investigator Nancy Cheng of the University of Oregon worked with Metro to create a streamlined process for illustrating the...

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OTREC research has taken steps toward developing trip generation rates for sites in a multimodal context.
Trip generation refers to the number of vehicle trips that are predicted to originate in a particular zone. The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) provides standard trip generation rates, but these rates are primarily measured in low-density suburban areas.
In areas that have a more compact urban form, better access to transit and a greater mix of land uses, fewer (and shorter) vehicle trips might actually be generated there than the current ITE rates indicate.
A project headed by Kelly Clifton, of Portland State University, examines the ways in which urban context affects vehicle trip-generation rates across a variety of land uses.
 
Results from this study reveal a trend: For all land uses tested, vehicle-trip rates decrease as neighborhood types become more urban.
There is a strong industry bias toward using ITE-published rates, so that when local governments are evaluating transportation impacts and calculating transportation system development charges, they are often compelled to use the ITE rates...
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The quality of OTREC research has recently been recognized on a national level.

Selected data from the Portland Oregon Regional Transportation Archive Listing (PORTAL) will be part of a new national data sharing platform.

The US Department of Transportation has released the first version of this platform, called the Research Data Exchange, which collects and publishes archived and real-time transportation data from multiple sources.

In the language of their home page, the Research Data Exchange (called the RDE for short) was primarily developed to “support the development, testing, and demonstration of multi-modal transportation mobility applications being pursued under the USDOT ITS Dynamic Mobility Applications (DMA) Program and other connected vehicle research activities.”

In other words, USDOT created this database so they could use it. But – in the spirit of collaboration common to those with an interest in collecting and managing vast amounts of information – they’re sharing it.

The RDE is free and open to the...

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OTREC research associate John MacArthur, in partnership with Drive Oregon, has been awarded a grant from Metro.

The grant is part of a $2.1 million effort by Metro to improve air quality and community health.

With the Metro grant, Drive Oregon and MacArthur plan to conduct a study of consumer perception and use of electric bicycles, pedal-bikes that provide extra propulsion from a rechargeable battery.

The idea is to see whether having the use of an e-bike will persuade non-bicycle-commuters to use a bike for the “first and last mile” of their daily commute; for example, to get from their workplace to the nearest MAX light rail station.

The e-bikes provided in the study will be foldable for convenient carrying onto the train. Ultimately, the partners of this study hope to increase the percentage of people who commute by bicycle and light rail, thus contributing to overall community health by reducing automobile emissions.

30 e-bikes will be loaned to 180 employees of Kaiser Permanente, at three designated work locations. Each participant will have the free use of an e-bike for one month, bookended by surveys about their expectations and perceptions of the experience.

MacArthur is conducting some overlapping research into e-bike use in a related OTREC...

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