News

OTREC gives “green light” to new hybrid electric vehicle

Posted on April 11, 2014

OTREC gives “green light” to new hybrid electric vehicle
OTREC researchers and students from the Oregon Institute of Technology have teamed up with Green Lite Motors to test a next-generation hybrid car.
 
Green Lite Motors, a clean-tech start-up company based in Portland, Ore., has developed a small, three-wheeled, gas-electric hybrid vehicle based on the platform of a Suzuki Burgman scooter.
 
The vehicle is classed as a motorcycle, and has all the advantages of the smaller vehicle — it doesn’t take up a whole parking space, and it gives off fewer emissions — but it also has an advanced roll-cage design, giving it the safety and comfort of a standard passenger car. It has two wheels in the front, one in the back, and mileage possibilities greater than 100 miles per gallon.
The target market areas for this two-passenger vehicle are urban commute zones, where large numbers of people travel daily from suburban homes to city-based professions. 
 
The tiny hybrid car could change the commuting experience, minimizing gas expenditure and cutting down the time people spend looking for parking.

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Tags: electric vehicles, emissions, livability, oregon institute of technology, otrec

Project develops new process for illustrating planning scenarios

Posted on March 27, 2014

Project develops new process for illustrating planning scenarios

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 scenarios.

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Tags: metro, university of oregon

Bike-ped count Webinar marks expanded professional development offerings

Posted on March 10, 2014

Bike-ped count Webinar marks expanded professional development offerings

The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation hosted its first Webinar Feb. 27, with OTREC researcher Krista Nordback providing an overview of bicycle and pedestrian count programs for the 250-plus registered participants.

The Webinar marks an expansion of IBPI’s professional development offerings, which now also include a sustainable transportation study-abroad program and a wider selection of workshops geared toward transportation professionals and university instructors. Webinar participants were eligible to receive continuing education credits, new this year for IBPI live Webinars and in-person workshops.

While the title of the Webinar, “We are Traffic: Creating Robust Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Programs,” asserts a place for walking and bicycling in traffic discussions, Nordback began with a question: If we really believe that bicycling and walking are modes of traffic, how is that going to change how we measure those modes?

Nordback outlined the Federal Highway Administration’s Traffic Monitoring Guide, published last year. She covered why counting and understanding bicycle and pedestrian volumes is important and how to apply lessons from motor vehicle counting to nonmotorized modes.

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Tags: bicycle counts, count programs, krista nordback, pedestrian counts, professional development, traffic monitoring guide

Unique course puts emissions models in transportation engineers’ hands

Posted on February 21, 2014

Unique course puts emissions models in transportation engineers’ hands

Portland State University engineering doctoral student Alex Bigazzi has developed a new course aimed at giving transportation engineers experience running emissions models. The course, Transportation Emissions Modeling, is offered through the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The practical nature of the course sets it apart from the few emissions courses offered at other universities, Bigazzi said. “Those tend to be on the policy side or the environmental side,” he said. “This is unique in trying to help engineers more than policymakers or future policymakers.”

The course fits with both Bigazzi’s own experience and Portland State’s faculty research strength in emissions and modeling. The university already offers an air quality course, but Bigazzi’s offering focuses narrowly on emissions from motor vehicles.

Students spent the first half of the inaugural course learning context for the models, including when they are used and what they can do. “There are federal requirements to do these models for all serious transportation projects,” Bigazzi said. “People need to understand what goes into them and how accurate they can be.”

Because emissions models aren’t as complex mathematically as other models, and because the Environmental Protection Agency’s MOVES model is freely accessible, students can spend more time learning exactly what the model can and can’t do.

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Tags: alex bigazzi, emissions, transportation modeling

PSU students and transportation professionals celebrate with post-TRB happy hour

Posted on February 14, 2014

PSU students and transportation professionals celebrate with post-TRB happy hour
The Transportation Research Board’s Annual Meeting took place in Washington, D.C. from January 12-16, 2014. Nearly 12,000 transportation professionals were in attendance, including 75 OTREC/NITC faculty and student researchers.
 
To recap this exciting event and share their experiences, Portland State University students and local transportation professionals gathered Tuesday, February 11th at the Rock Bottom Brewery, a combination brewery, restaurant and pub located in downtown Portland.
 
Attending the TRB meeting as students gave participants an opportunity to accelerate their development as transportation professionals. Conference sessions and workshops offered a multitude of learning and networking events. Civil & Environmental Engineering graduate student Katie Bell said, “There were so many things going on [at the conference], you could be somewhere from dawn to dusk... it was a really great experience.” 
 
Graduate student Pam Johnson organized the happy hour event, arriving early to make introductions, distribute name tags and help people mingle. Approximately 25 people attended the event, most of them PSU students. There were also representatives there from Kittelson & Associates, Lancaster Engineering, the Portland Bureau of Transportation and Washington County.
 
The gathering allowed students and conference participants to share ideas and research, along with their TRB stories. Graduate student Nick Foster and PSU Transportation Certificate alum Max Scheideman of Lancaster Engineering enjoyed the opportunity to chat and catch up on research developments in the local transportation community.
 
Not all of the PSU students who came to the happy hour were participants in this year’s TRB conference. Some of them, like MURP student Mandia Gonzales, just came to soak up the knowledge and network with fellow transportation students. Those who did attend TRB, like graduate students Adam Moore and Kristina Currans, came to the happy hour to see each other’s research, enjoy some microbrews, and share stories about their adventures in D.C.
 
 The "TRB Aftershock" happy hour event was hosted by Portland State University Students in Transportation Engineering and Planning (STEP) and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC).

Tags: otrec, portland state university, transportation research board

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