At TRB, wonks are celebrities (and they wear funny ties)

Spotted at TRB 2010.
(Photo: Robert Rescot/Twitter)

The Transportation Research Board is wrapping up their Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. this week. For the uninitiated, the TRB’s mission is to “promote innovation and progress in transportation through research.” Our own Elly Blue attended (along with about 11,000 others) last year and dubbed it the Great Transportation Convergence.

Not surprisingly, there was a big contingent from Portland at this year’s conference. The Portland State University based Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) sent a team of staffers to present their latest research and network with others in the field.

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OTREC’s Research Program Manager Hau Hagedorn (who happens to be the mom-of-three we profiled in a family biking article last month) made the trip to D.C. this year. When she told us OTREC was passing out trading cards of their esteemed Director, hotshot bike researcher Jennifer Dill, we just had to share it with you:

Front and back sides of a limited edition Jennifer Dill trading card! Anyone got a John Pucher rookie in mint condition?

Ms. Dill tells us these were a big hit (“I even autographed a few!”) and she expects other universities to copy the idea next year.

As for the awesome roundabout tie in the photo at the top of this story, Hau shared a funny quote she overheard to go along with it: “So much modeling, so little fashion…” (sort of have to be a wonk to get that one).

All jokes aside, transportation research is a key part of pushing new ideas — such as biking as a viable mode — to the forefront of politics and policy.

Ms. Dill is Chair of the TRB’s Bicycle Transportation Committee. She told us that U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s big speech about livability got her attention. On the bicycle transportation research front, Dill said there were twice as many papers on the subject (48 vs. 24) submitted this year. “That’s a good sign for the field.”

Another bright spot according to Dill was a session on gathering better data on non motor-vehicle traffic. San Francisco is installing 28 loop detector counters that Dills says will result in “great, year-round data.”

“Overall,” Dill told us, “I saw positive signs for bicycle research and education. The amount and quality of research is increasing, and it should only continue to do so with the new administration’s focus on livability.”

I’m glad Dill is on the case. Let’s just hope that in the Obama Administration’s quest for livability they don’t forget the most affordable, highest return-on-investment mode there is — bicycles. (And I don’t need any more research to prove it!)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Options Guy
14 years ago

And of course you are encouraged to congratulate Dr. Dill when she and Dr. Chris Monsere present “An Initial Assessment of Portland’s Green Bike Boxes” at the PBOT Bike Brown Bag. (Click my name for details, but mark your calendar for Thursday, Jan. 21 at noon in the Portland Building.)