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Faculty Research

SW Broadway Cycle Track & SW Stark/Oak Street Buffered Bike Lanes 

Principal Investigator: Christopher Monsere, Ph.D., P.E.
Co-principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Research Associate: Nathan McNeil
Year: 2010-2011

Two innovative bicycle facilities installed in late summer and early fall 2009 in downtown Portland by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) were evaluated to understand how they are functioning on multiple levels.

Read the report

Prepared for: City of Portland, Bureau of Transportation. Completed: 2011. Professor Monsere and Nathan McNeil presented on this report at the February 25, 2011, Friday Transportation Seminar. Portland's Cycle Track and Buffered Bike Lanes: Are They Working? Click here to view the seminar. story from February 24, 2011. PSU Report: Cycle track, buffered bike lanes working well, could be improved.

Oregonian story from February 24, 2011. Portland State study says cycle track on Southwest Broadway is working -- in most ways.


Bike-GPS project

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Co-principal Investigator: John Gliebe, Ph.D.
Year: 2008-2009

This project asked several key research questions: How does the built environment influence bicycling behavior; and what routes did they take? In addition to addressing the two key research questions, the study also looks at what barriers are preventing people from bicycling more, and how to attract different groups, such as women, to cycling.

The "Bike-GPS: Understanding and Measuring Bicycling Behavior" project was completed in December 2008. The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, began with a survey , then underwent a second phase of GPS data collection. On May 16, 2008, project lead Jennifer Dill presented many of the findings at the CTS Friday Transportation Seminar.

The key research questions of the study were: How does the built environment influence bicycling behavior; and what routes did they take? The data Dr. Dill presented documents seven days worth of trips for 149 participants, covering 1,689 total trips. 45% of the participants were women. The data covers trip purposes, length, destinations, average speed, reasons for biking rather driving, and more. She presents in detail the different sets of data, how they are being processed, and in what ways the data can be used in the future.

In addition to addressing the two key research questions, the study also looks at what barriers are preventing people from bicycling more, and how to attract different groups, such as women, to cycling.

Paper published in the Journal of Public Health and Policy, vol. 30 (2009). "Bicycling for Transportation and Health: The Role of Infrastructure."


Bike Box Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill, Ph.D.
Co-principal Investigator: Christopher Monsere
Graduate Research Assistant: Nathan McNeil, MURP
Year: 2008-2010

This report presents a before-after study of bike boxes at 10 signalized intersections in Portland, Oregon. Before and after video were analyzed for seven intersections with green bike boxes, three intersections with uncolored bike boxes, and two control intersections. User perceptions were measured through surveys of cyclists passing through five of the bike box intersections and of motorists working downtown, where the boxes were concentrated.

The "Evaluation of Bike Boxes at Signalized Intersections" was completed in 2010. The study was funded by OTREC, City of Portland, and PSU (Civil Engineering and Urban Studies & Planning). The Final Report (dated January 19, 2011) is available to download (PDF). And you can find more information about the project on the OTREC website.

Abstract: Bicycle use as a primary means of commuting to work increased 145% (American Community Survey, US Census Bureau) from 1996 to 2006 in Portland, Oregon; however, recent surveys have found that more than half of Portland residents limit their bicycling due to traffic safety concerns. In Portland, 68% of bicycle crashes occur at intersections, (PDOT, 2004) which is consistent with national trends (Hunter et al., 1996), and a common crash pattern is the "right-hook" where right-turning motorists collide with through or stopped bicycles.

To partially address these conflicts between bicycles and right-turning motor vehicles, the City of Portland installed 12 "bike boxes" at signalized urban intersections. The box is located in front of the stop line for motor vehicles and behind the pedestrian crosswalk, and the typical installation consisted of an advanced stop line, green textured thermoplastic marking with bicycle stencil, intersection striping, and regulatory signage (including no-turn-on-red). These installations also include colored bicycle lane markings in the intersection, which is unique. This combination of traffic control is hypothesized to reduce conflicts between motor vehicles and bicyclists and make motorists aware of a potential conflict, with a secondary outcome of encouraging more bicycling by enhancing safety and priority at an intersection.

Bike boxes and similar advanced stop lines are used extensively in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, and other European countries. However, bike boxes are rare in the United States and extremely limited research has been conducted on their effectiveness. We are conducting a comprehensive, classical, observational before-after study of the effectiveness of the installed experimental traffic control devices and responses of all system users impacted by the installation of the bicycle boxes.

Our approach will answer such research questions as:

Do the bike boxes reduce conflicts or the potential for conflict between motorized vehicles and bicycles?

Do the bike boxes create any new or potential conflicts between motorized vehicles and bicycles?

How does motor vehicle driver and bicyclist behavior differ with and without the bike boxes?

What design features affect behavior and conflicts?

Do the bike boxes affect pedestrian safety, behavior, or conflicts with motor vehicles or bicyclists?

What are the impressions of the drivers and bicyclists using the intersections about how the bike boxes affect safety and operations?

Two primary research methods will be employed: (1) before and after video surveillance of the intersections where bike boxes will be installed and appropriate control intersections; and (2) surveys of cyclists and drivers. The video surveillance will address most of the research questions in an objective manner.


Improving Regional Travel Demand Models for Bicycling

Principal Investigator: John Gliebe
Co-principal Investigator: Jennifer Dill
Graduate Research Assistants: Daniel Costantino, MURP, Joseph Broach, Ph.D. Urban Studies
Year: 2008-2009
Budget: $60, 232 (not including match)

This project, funded by OTREC and Metro, developed a behaviorally-based set of attributes for modeling bicycle networks and to explored methods for generating realistic cyclist route choice sets.  Additionally, the project sought to identify different classes of cyclists and integrate the findings into an existing network assignment model.

Abstract: With growing concerns over the lack of physical activity, increase in greenhouse gases, and other threats to sustainability, planners, engineers, and policy makers are looking for ways to increase the use of alternative modes of travel. Bicycling is one such option. According to the 2001 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS), over 60% of all personal trips are five miles or less in length – a reasonable distance to ride a bike – and nearly 40% are two miles or less. Despite the potential, only about one percent of the trips people make in the U.S. are on bicycles, including less than five percent of trips under ½ mile. In contrast, bicycling is a popular form of recreation throughout the country. A 2002 nationwide survey of people 16 and older found that 27% had bicycled in the past 30 days, with recreation being the most common purpose (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration & Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 2003).

There is very little research in the U.S. on bicycling. What does exist provides some general indications, but is limited in scope and often employs unreliable methods (BTS, 2000). Moreover, the primary tool used by public agencies to plan urban transportation systems – travel demand models – rarely includes bicycles as a separate mode. Metro, Portland’s regional transportation planning agency, is generally regarded as having some of the most sophisticated land use and travel demand models in the country. And, among large urban areas in the U.S., this region has one of the highest rates of bicycle travel. Despite these facts, Metro’s travel models address bicycles in a very simple manner, for example assuming all cyclists travel at the same speed. Without more sophisticated modeling tools, planners are not able to accurately evaluate infrastructure options that involve cycling. One reason Metro’s (and other regions’) models do not adequately address the bicycle as a mode of transportation is a lack of data. Models are built using travel and activity surveys, which usually don’t include enough bicycle travel to develop better models.

This project will address these problems. For the past two years, we have collected data from over 150 bicyclists on their bicycle trips using GPS. This work was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and OTREC. From those two projects we have been able to evaluate why and where people bicycle, including identifying different types of cyclists. The OTREC funding has been used to focus specifically on route choice behavior, comparing the characteristics of the cyclists’ routes with those of the shortest paths. The research project proposed here takes that several steps further. The GPS data already collected will be used to develop a bicycle component to Metro’s travel demand model. This will be done, in part, by estimating the relative utilities of various types of facilities and factors, e.g. bike boulevards, arterials with and without bike lanes, low traffic streets, hills, etc. In addition, the results will be used to improve a bicycle route planning guide (ByCycle) that is currently available.

Specifically, the project will:

Develop a behaviorally-based set of attributes for modeling bicycle networks

Develop methods for generating realistic cyclist route choice sets

Identify different classes of cyclists

Integrate the findings into an existing network assignment model


Safe Routes to School Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Lynn Weigand 

The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation evaluates Portland’s Safe Routes to School program, primarily through parent and hand-raising surveys that have been administered every fall and spring since fall 2006.

Read the summary.