Drunk walking, calories, and funding: A few tidbits from TRB Annual Meeting

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

In case you haven’t heard, the Transportation Research Board’s 91st Annual Meeting is being held right now in Washington D.C. It’s a major event in the transportation world that attracts the best and brightest thinkers and policymakers from around the country.

I’ve been following updates from the event via Twitter and two quotes have been shared hundreds of times. Here’s the first one:

On 350 calories, a bicyclist can go 10 miles, a pedestrian 3.5 miles, and a car 100 feet.

That was tweeted by @AurashKhawarzad and I’m not sure who the original source was. I’m also not sure how you convert car movement into calories, but it’s a fun way to look at the numbers.

And then there’s this quote (paraphrased by tweeters) from famed transportation researcher Todd Litman:

“Best urban sustainability measure: “whether or not you are able to walk home from a bar drunk.””

One more quick note about TRB. With the transportation funding debate heating up, a Streetsblog DC reporter attended a session on the topic. Check out what he found out in this story, Is Doing Nothing a Politically Acceptable Way to Pay For Transportation?

Portlanders in D.C. for major transportation research conference

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Head of traffic signals for
PBOT, Peter Koonce, is
among the attendees.

Looking to share knowledge on the latest and greatest innovations in transportation research, Portland has a very strong presence in Washington D.C. this week at the 90th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

Portland is home to many of the nation’s top minds when it comes to innovative research about how we get around. Back in 2009, Portland State’s Robert Bertini was picked to serve as deputy administrator of the federal Research and Innovative Technology Administration.

Read more

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

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

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.

Read more

Editorial: Conservative columnist speaks out against highways

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

“The US has big economic problems. But they have been made worse, and harder to resolve, by a half-century in which, at federal urging, the country was misbuilt.”
— Christopher Caldwell, The Weekly Standard

Reflecting on Obama’s address to congress last week (in which he said that America “cannot walk away from” the automobile), columnist Christopher Caldwell penned a rebuttal in the Financial Times against the President’s plans for massive government spending — on the nation’s highways.

Caldwell, a senior editor for conservative news publication The Weekly Standard, spends the bulk of the column casting President Eisenhower’s Federal Highway Act in an unfavorable light (the Highway Act passed with strong support in 1956 and created our interstate highway system).

Read more

TRB profile: Roads and bike paths on the reservations

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

[Publisher’s note: This article is a dispatch by Managing Editor Elly Blue, who recently attended the Transportation Research Board conference in Washington D.C. Read more articles from Elly’s East Coast Tour.]

John La Verdure (Photo by Elly Blue)

Taking a break in the lobby of the Marriott during the TRB conference, I noticed a man nearby with Portland on his nametag. He turned out to be John La Verdure, an engineer who lives in Troutdale and advises the The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on technical issues with building roads on Native American reservations.

I asked what conference sessions he was attending, and he launched into an enthusiastic description of a flaw that has lately become apparent in the 12 inch concrete slabs used to build many highways. The slabs shift slightly, over a long period, so that 20 years after they’re installed, one end will be 1/16 inch lower than perfectly flush. That’s why, when you’re driving across North Dakota, the road feels bumpy.

Read more

In D.C.: The great transportation convergence

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

You can take a shuttle between conference
venues, or a ten minute walk across this gorgeous
bridge on Connecticut Ave.
(Photos by Elly Blue)

Washington, DC is the final stop on my East Coast Tour. I am here for the week-long Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting.

TRB is the big transportation conference in North America, hosted by the country’s pre-eminent transportation research organization. Hundreds of sessions fill three huge hotels on Connecticut Avenue, and 11,000 attendees walk briskly from room to room, talking shop about everything from bituminous pavement to international shipping to pedestrian signalization.

The theme of the conference this year is Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change. The fact that this is the theme is a big deal in its own right, as it signals a shift in focus in transportation research and policy nationally.

Read more