Workshop participants will cycle down Portland’s best trails

Posted on September 27, 2014

Workshop participants will cycle down Portland’s best trails

The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) is teaming up with Alta Planning + Design to offer a firsthand, on-the-ground training opportunity at the end of October.

They will teach a trail design course at Portland State University, with field tours of some of Portland's biggest trail challenges and best solutions.

Course instructors are Alta associates Robin WilcoxGeorge Hudson, and Karen Vitkay. They will share their experience and provide examples from some of the best trails around the country.

Multi-use trails, not accessible by car but meant to be shared by pedestrians, cyclists and the occasional leashed dog, are pleasant routes by almost anyone’s standards. Often winding through wooded areas or along waterways, insulated from the noise of traffic and offering contact with nature, they present an attractive alternative to cyclists who are not as comfortable riding on busy streets.

While any segment of trail can offer a pleasant stroll, the true beauty of shared-use trails lies in being able to use them: as an alternate, off-street means of travel, a route to school or a way to get to work in the morning. A widespread switch from driving on streets to walking or cycling on trails has the potential to change communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing physical activity, and sharpening our well-being.

Yet it is a challenge to create a network of trails that is connected and functional enough to be able to serve as a commute route for a significant number of people.

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Tags: active transportation, bicycle, bicycle infrastructure, bicycling, design, ibpi, livability, portland state university

NITC Fall 2014 doctoral dissertation fellowship applications due October 31st

Posted on September 14, 2014

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) invites proposals for the Fall 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowships. This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT), and is a partnership between Portland State University (PSU), the University of Oregon (UO), the Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), and the University of Utah (UU). The mission of the UTC program is to advance U.S. technology and expertise in the many disciplines comprising transportation through the mechanisms of education, research, and technology transfer at university-based centers. See for more information.

Fellowships up to $15,000 will be awarded to cover expenses for the recipient while working on their dissertation. A Spring 2015 NITC Dissertation RFP will be released in January with applications due in April 2015.

NITC is focused on contributing to transportation projects that support innovations in: livability, incorporating safety and environmental sustainability


Students must be a US Citizen and have advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree prior to the application deadline. NITC fellowships are open to students currently enrolled in a transportation-related doctoral program at Portland State University (PSU), University of Oregon (UO), Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), or the University of Utah (UU).


Applicants must submit their application form to the online proposal system by October 31st, 2014 to qualify for funding. Additionally, a copy of the dissertation must be submitted to Susan Peithman when complete. Successful applicants should intend to complete their dissertation by December 31, 2015. If you have questions about your application process, please contact Susan Peithman ( More information can be foundby downloading the application here: NITC Dissertation Application.

Tags: dissertation fellowships, nitc

Abundant access: Jarrett Walker on freedom through transit

Posted on September 9, 2014

Abundant access: Jarrett Walker on freedom through transit

With his 2011 book, “Human Transit,” consultant Jarrett Walker provided planners and community members with a new way to think about the choices transit planning requires. Since that time, Walker has focused on what transit actually delivers. He calls this concept “abundant access”: how much of your city is available to you in a short amount of time.

Walker will delve into this topic Monday, Sept. 15 as the keynote speaker at the Oregon Transportation Summit. Online registration for the summit closes Wednesday night.

Register now!

“Abundant access is an interesting way to think about transit and something that brings it into the personal frame of liberty that is missing from most analysis of urban outcomes,” Walker said. “How we talk about sensations of freedom, so that we don’t just sound like bureaucrats who know what’s good for everyone.”

Urbanist leaders go astray, Walker said, when they put other goals ahead of the liberty and opportunity that useful transit provides. That could mean catering to developers or creating a symbolic transit system that is fun to ride but doesn’t serve regular transit users well.

Walker calls the New Urbanist conceit of prioritizing an aesthetically pleasing transit system over getting to destinations quickly as “a glorification of slowness” and an “inherently aristocratic idea.” For example, measuring the "perception of time," as though it were more important than actual time presumes the viewpoint of a person of relative leisure, not someone who faces penalties for being late.

“If you work at McDonalds, you can’t say ‘I’m not really late for work because my perception of time is that I got here 10 minutes ago,’ ” Walker said.

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Tags: jarrett walker, new urbanism, oregon transportation summit, portland streetcar, public transportation, transit, transit-dependent population

E-Bike laws create widely differing situations for users

Posted on August 28, 2014

E-Bike laws create widely differing situations for users

In 2009, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed the Copenhagen Wheel, a device that converts an ordinary bicycle into a hybrid e-bike.

An e-bike is considered a motorized bicycle under Massachusetts law. This means that once the 13-pound, 26-inch Copenhagen Wheel is attached to the rear wheel of a bicycle, the resulting vehicle requires a driver’s license to operate, must be registered with the DMV, and its rider must wear, not just a bike helmet, but a motorcycle helmet to be in compliance with the law.

Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, are well established in China and other Asian and European countries but market adoption has been slow in the United States.

Part of the reason could be that the law is often nebulous where e-bikes are concerned.

NITC researchers at Portland State University conducted a policy review revealing the current state of legislation regarding e-bikes in the United States and Canada.

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Tags: active transportation, bicycle, bicycling, e-bikes, electric vehicles, john macarthur, livability, nitc, portland state university, research

How Minnesota saves lives by spreading safety money thinly: Oregon Transportation Summit focus

Posted on August 27, 2014

How Minnesota saves lives by spreading safety money thinly: Oregon Transportation Summit focus

(First published by

Sue Groth’s job: use math and millions of dollars to stop injuries before they happen.

The team Groth leads at the Minnesota Department of Transportation has probably saved a few hundred lives over the last 10 years. In that time they’ve reinvented “highway safety” spending and seen traffic fatalities fall almost twice as fast as they have in Oregon and the rest of the country.

Groth is the plenary speaker at the Sept. 15 Oregon Transportation Summit hosted by OTREC at Portland State University. Michael Andersen of BikePortland spoke to her last week to talk about MnDOT’s daring decision to give up some of the “gobs of money” it gets for highway safety and hand it to local agencies instead.

What’s the nature of your work on the safety movement called Vision Zero, also known as Toward Zero Deaths?
My state happened to be one of the first to adopt it. We have had a program for over 10 years now and have had some pretty good success. We don’t have to accept the fact that 400 people a year die on the roads in Minnesota, or 33,000 nationally.

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Tags: leah treat, minnesota department of transportation, oregon transportation summit, safety, sue groth, toward zero deaths, troy costales, vision zero

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