Multimodal Transportation Data Research

Transportation Data Research.png

Data-driven policy and strategy are critical to meeting transportation goals. Where there is insufficient or incomplete data, there can be no effective solutions. It’s why at Portland State University we’ve focused our research efforts over the years on filling data gaps, and why we house two national data clearinghouses – PORTAL and BikePed Portal – aimed at making transportation data more easily accessible to researchers and practitioners.

PORTAL: Transportation Data Archive for Portland-Vancouver

PORTAL provides a centralized, electronic database that facilitates the collection, archiving, and sharing of transportation data and information for public agencies. The data stored in PORTAL includes 20-second granularity loop detector data from freeways in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region, arterial signal data, travel time data, weather data, incident data, VAS/VMS message data, truck volumes, transit data, and arterial signal data. Many of these data feeds are received by PORTAL in real time or on a daily basis and for most, the retrieval and archiving process is fully automated.

PORTAL’s transportation data archive aims to support Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan, the production of regional performance measures, support for regional transportation agencies and their consultants, researchers, educators, and students. In collaboration with our many partners, we also maintain a PORTAL Users Group that meets monthly (join the PUG mailing list here) and a PORTAL User Documentation site

Questions or feedback about the API, the PORTAL website, or the Documentation? Contact us at

BikePed Portal: National Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Archive

A national non-motorized count data archive, BikePed Portal provides a centralized standard count database for public agencies, researchers, educators, and other curious members of the public to view and download bicycle and pedestrian count data. It includes automated and manual counts from across the country, and supports screenline and turning movement counts.

With the BikePed Portal we aim to:
---Provide safety researchers with a measure of exposure to collisions
---Give educators data to include cycling and walking in their curricula
---Enable local agencies to seasonally adjust estimates they gather from short-duration count sites
---Provide policymakers with basic information on cycling and walking, including performance metrics, to inform planning and funding decisions
---Allow transportation professionals to better support the public’s desire for livable communities

Our next goal is really broadening the user base and expanding the datasets available in BikePed Portal. Also, we’re really focused on integrating AADNMT calculations (Annual Average Daily Non-Motorized Traffic). Read a December 2020 interview with the team behind BikePed Portal here.

Please review this data agreement form, if this matches your project needs please reach out to

Exploring Data Fusion Techniques to Derive Bicycle Volumes on a Network

Many cities are interested in increasing bicycle activity, but in order to understand what works, cities require accurate accounting of bicycle traffic. To date, jurisdictions have often relied on observed counts of cyclists—either short-duration manual or longer-term automated counts—in a limited set of locations. Based on these limited datasets, models are then developed to extrapolate network-wide conditions. Recently, however, new sources of bicycling activity data have emerged from GPS-based smartphone apps—Strava, Ride Report, Map My Ride, and others—and GPS-enabled public bike sharing systems. These emerging data sources have potential advantages as a complement to traditional count data, since they are collected continuously and for larger portions of the bicycle network. In this project, researchers are working to create models that combine multiple data sources to predict bicycle volumes network-wide. They will also compare the relative value of different data sources, bringing significant improvements to the completeness and reliability of bicycle counts.

Learn more about Exploring Data Fusion Techniques to Derive Bicycle Volumes on a Network, led by Sirisha Kothuri of PSU.

Guide to Bicycle & Pedestrian Count Programs

Interested in understanding bicycle and pedestrian traffic in your area? This resource is for you! While there are many ways to quantify bicycling and walking, this guide focuses on bicycle and pedestrian count programs. Counting provides information on the level of intersections, paths and roadways; a dataset already available for motor vehicles, but lacking for non-motorized travelers. Agencies who show clear evidence of use are more likely to receive funding for projects. The main purpose of a bicycle and pedestrian count program is to measure bicycle and pedestrian traffic at all times in all locations on a system. To accomplish this goal, a robust and cost effective bicycle and pedestrian count program is needed. Here we summarize information on how to create or improve a bicycle and pedestrian count program. Download the Guide to Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Programs (PDF).

Pedestrian Observation and Data Collection Curriculum

Addressing the challenges of an evolving transportation industry means embracing the study of non-motorized travel and preparing the new workforce for it. Funded by our university research consortium, the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), this curriculum guidebook was designed to enable instructors with little or no experience to integrate pedestrian-related topics into their teaching. While accessibility is a key feature, the guidebook combines both new and existing resources into one comprehensive set of learning modules for more experienced instructors. The guidebook offers a comprehensive set of class exercises to learn pedestrian observation and data collection strategies.

Learn more about the Pedestrian Observation and Data Collection Curriculum here.

The People Behind the Research

Meet the experts behind many of the projects listed above:

  • Joe Broach, ​Research Associate, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC); Senior Researcher and Modeler, Metro
  • Jennifer Dill, and Director of the Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) and Professor, Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University
  • Basem Elazzabi, Senior Research Associate, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University
  • Sirisha Kothuri, Senior Research Associate, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University
  • Tammy Lee, Transportation Data Program Manager, Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University
  • Nathan McNeil, Research Associate, Urban Studies and Planning, Portland State University

Online Education and Additional Resources

Online Seminars

We have presented a variety of webinars and online seminars focused on this topic, and are always adding more. See the YouTube playlist of our online education in transportation data.

Transportation Data Equity and Ethics

We also recommend the following resources on considering questions of equity and ethics in using transportation data: