When it comes to walking and bicycling as a means of transportation, Portland is a great place to be. According to Bicycling magazine, Portland supports a ‘vibrant and diverse bike culture” and a local government that listens to cyclists. Walk Score gives downtown Portland a 96 out of 100 walkability score. Given this, it’s not surprising that Portland State University’s Center for Transportation Studies established the Initiative for Bicycle & Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) in 2007 to lead innovation in research, education and knowledge that promotes change to make our communities safe, convenient and assessable places to walk and bicycle.
IBPI brings together the interest and expertise of urban planners, transportation engineers, community and public health advocates in one place. And Portland is the ideal place to do this because the city has an active walking and bicycling transportation base that provides a living laboratory for their work.
The team at IBPI is focused on conducting practical research of facilities and programs planners and policy makers can use to build communities where walking and cycling is a viable choice for transportation and recreation. They’re also working to shape the future of walking and bicycling by provide training for professionals to plan and design better pedestrian and bicycle facilities and promote innovation in transportation design to better integrate walking and bicycling, and by teaching planning and engineering students about pedestrian and bicycle planning and design.
A cornerstone of the research program is facilitating the exchange of knowledge especially between scholars and practitioners by translating research into relevant and user-friendly information while involving professionals in research design that can be incorporated into practice and policy.
Their website resources span scholarly research and innovative practices and provide a clearinghouse of resources, from scientific data to best practice information, to student research. Research topics have included evaluation of innovative bicycle facilities, such as Portland’s green bike boxes, and encouragement programs, such as Safer Routes to Schools.
IBPI also provides training to engineering and planning practitioners and students. They have developed a set of ten curriculum modules that cover different aspects of walking and biking. They are designed so that any planning or engineering professor could pick them up and put them to use in a course. They also developed a course of trail planning and design looking at multi-modal use of trails. Their professional development workshops provide opportunities for practitioners to stay on top of new developments and innovation in bicycle and pedestrian planning and design.
When asked what she thinks the future of traveling by bicycle and foot will look like, IBPI Director Lynn Weigand replied that the future has already arrived.
“There’s been a huge explosion in the interest in cycling, in the number of bike lanes, and miles of different types of bike facilities, not just in Portland, but all over the country. Biking is getting a lot of attention these days. In terms of walking, there’s a lot of emphasis on the 20-minute neighborhood where you can walk for most daily errands and activities within 20 minutes.
As the need for sustainable modes of transportation rises and people walk and cycle more, so too will the need for city planners and transportation engineers rise. Filling this need is where researchers like Dr. Weigand and others in the Initiative for Bicycle & Pedestrian Innovation come in. It will be their work that helps shape the way we travel through our cities in the years to come.
Authored by Shaun McGillis
Posted September 13, 2012