Oregon Active Transportation Summit: Healthy Streets
On Monday, March 14, I left Eugene at 5:30am on the Amtrak train for Portland to attend the Oregon Active Transportation Summit. This was my first time attending this conference and I was very excited to attend workshops and listen to speakers discussing issues in the Pacific Northwest on Active Transportation and Community Development. I don’t take the train very often so I was exited and looking forward to the 2.5-hour ride to relax and watch the views on my way to Portland.
Once I arrived at the station, I walked a few blocks to a nearby coffee shop and already overheard a conversation discussing street solutions. Must be some planners, I thought! Afterwards, I got on the bus for a short trip to the Sentinel Hotel where the conference was being held. It was very difficult for me to choose which workshop sessions to attend but I finally decided on: Making Data Count, Temporarily Re-imagining Public Space: A Community Tool for Better Public Engagement, and Protected Bike Lanes: Lessons Learned in Planning and Implementation.
My favorite session was the first session on “Making Data Count. “ As soon as I walked into the room, a group of people started chanting “data, data, data!” I knew I was in the right place. The presenters were from Portland State University, Lane Council of Governments, Portland Metro, Transportation Research and Education Center at PSU, and the City of Dallas, Oregon. The most fascinating thing I learned was from Dr. Miguel Figliozzi, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Portland State University and Director at Transportation Technology Lab, who discussed gauging a cyclist’s comfort level through an app called ORcycle as well as another system called the Galvanic Skin Response (GSR). The ORcycle app is used for cyclists to record their bicycle trip, stating the purpose of the trip, comfort level, and safety concerns. Heat maps can be created with the results, showing the most frequented routes as well as common problem areas. The GSR system is attached to the cyclist and measures the biological stress the person feels as they travel along their route. It can reveal what intersections are most stressful and collect real world data of on-road stress for a facility. I was very happy to attend this conference and learn from professionals in the region how they are collecting data, what results they are finding, and how they are using this information to make improvements for the future.