Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Information Session on Transportation Applications in the Netherlands - March 5, 5 PM - Study Abroad this Summer in Delft!

We'll be hosting an information sharing session on the program, next Monday, March 5th at 5 to 6 PM. The purpose of the meeting is to describe the details of the course. In order to do this we'll start off with a brief presentation by your instructors followed by a short summary of actual students who attended the course and lived to tell about it. Kirk Paulsen and Brian Davis will share their experiences of spending time in Amsterdam, while based in Delft all the while touring the nearby suburbs of Delft and communities (such as Rotterdam) that present an introduction to the multimodal transportation applications in the Netherlands.

A few questions I have received:
1. Do I have to be an engineer to participate?
Absolutely not. While the 7 students that participated last year were, their knowledge of thermodynamics and structural analysis did not provide them keener insights on the transportation elements common in Dutch communities. Working in teams as we did last year, any engineering skills you might need will be part of your group projects. 

2.  The course mentions efforts in Portland after the in country period, is that flexible?
Yes. The number of credits dictates the extent of the effort required for class projects. Last year, some of the students chose to finish the project before they left for the U.S. Others wanted more time to edit their class projects 
Here's a sample of some of the work that was completed. Brian's post summarizing his experience in "Bike Heaven" the community of Houten. The post actually was commented on by our host in Houten, community engineer Herbert Tiemens. Here's Kirk Paulsen's group's final project analyzing Houten as a community. 

3. Is financial aid available for this? 
Yes.  Financial aid is available for the program. The course costs are fairly reasonable compared to typical tuition and by taking the 6 credit option or an additional summer class you can easily be full time. Depending on your situation, I would encourage looking into this. The course doesn't have the overhead that normal classes do and the University wants the exposure for its students. The costs of housing are part of the program and staying in a dorm is an inexpensive place to stay relatively speaking. We complete all of our travel via bicycle and short train trips, so the biggest cost is the airfare.

4. Do I need to speak Dutch to take part in the trip?
No. I have been to the Netherlands five times and I don't speak a word of the language. 

5. Is it true that they don't have stop signs anywhere in the country?
No, I found three stop signs during my extensive travels, but it does take a couple of minutes to get used to. 

6. How do you deal with Post Travel and Carfree Bliss Disorder? 
I think Brian Davis covered this best in his blog post here, but Sunday Parkways is a good place to start.

7. Is this all about bikes?
No, but bicycles are a part of the Dutch culture and with a 30+% mode split for people travelling by bike, it is hard to avoid. Freight and transit will be part of the program as well and there's interest in having a conversation with the Utrecht Traffic Engineer Ronald Tamse who visited Portland and presented at PSU this past October. We define group project subjects that fit into the curriculum. Here's the final report that was a joint effort of Northeastern University and Portland State participants from last year. 

The session will be in the Engineering Building in the ITS Lab which is in Room 315. 
If you have any questions, feel free to send Dr. Bertini or I an email at your convenience. Looking forward to seeing some of you on Monday. 

The second annual summer course on multimodal transportation in the Netherlands:


News Flash from Seattle: Signals that don't Work Are Bad!

From our friends to the north via The Seattle Times
Backups while city waited 11 hours to send crew to broken West Seattle traffic light

This was one of the five most popular stories on seattletimes.com for the past few days. Good lessons to be learned here from our northern neighbors.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Documenting Efforts on NE 12th Avenue: 4 to 3-lane Conversion

I got an email from another colleague regarding the experience converting a 4-lane to 3-lane conversion on NE 12th Avenue. I could spend a lot of time to describe it or I could summarize blog posts that BikePortland.org had on the subject in chronological order with better reporting than I could accomplish at home in the evenings after work.

Pushback on the Plans - are signals enough? - April 28th: This was the time I got involved. There was some earlier work on the concepts, but I hadn't done a whole lot of new information.

Implementation Notice - June 2nd: PBOT implemented the signal changes with some striping modifications before the school year ended.

Moving Forward with Concerns - June 16th: A second meeting was held to discuss initial results.

Consensus with the Stakeholders! - September 29 : We studied the after when school was back in session to do a reasonable comparison.

Implementation pictorial: The completed project, we still have a few things to modify and we committed to evaluate the after before the end of the year. We haven't had any complaints that we were not able to address.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Demand for Scaled Bicycle Signals

I came across this blog post from a fellow in San Francisco that nicely summarized the issues and examples of bicycle signals.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Misuse of Traffic Engineering for Active Transportation

I just submitted the following Conference Session for the Oregon Active Transportation Summit.

The traffic engineering community is advancing methodologies to accommodate active transportation. Adoption of new methodologies and standards has not been widely accepted because there remain gaps in the standards by which we determine facilities are adequate, particularly in the development review process. This is highlighted in the vocabulary we use on a daily basis, we continue to consider auto traffic congestion as something that should be reduced, when in reality it can support the encouragement of active transportation. This session will describe these challenges and provide attendees technical policy suggestions that would make active transportation more competitive in their community.

Here's the rundown of Speakers

Todd Mobley of Lancaster Engineering has over 15 years of experience in transportation engineering. His firm serves private sector clients throughout the Portland metropolitan area, guiding them through the complicated land use transportation requirements public agencies use to determine whether a development application fits the community. Todd is a weekend warrior during the cyclocross season and a wicked one at that.

Jessica Horning is a Transportation Analyst with experience in the areas of bicycle/pedestrian planning, transit systems planning and analysis, and geographic information systems (GIS). Ms. Horning has served as Deputy Project Manager for multiple long-range Transportation Demand Management (TDM) planning efforts, which have aided jurisdictions/agencies in developing and promoting alternatives to driving alone (e.g., biking, transit, telework) and also serve as policy and management documents for local TDM programs. She’s an avid bike polo player and you’ll find her most Sundays on Alberta Park’s tennis courts.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lamenting a Pedestrian's Experience on a Crosswalk and Measuring Delay at Signals

One of the smartest men in the Transportation Business, Darcy Bullock from Purdue University is visiting Portland the first part of this week to share some thoughts on arterial performance measurement. Darcy is a distinguished colleague and research professor at Purdue University. I was reviewing some older documentation and came across this gem he shared in 2008.

 “ A downtown shopper needed a fourleaf clover, a voodoo charm, and a St. Christopher's medal to make it in one piece from one curbstone to the other. As far as I was concerned--a traffic engineer with Methodist leanings--I didn't think that the Almighty should be bothered with problems which we, ourselves, were capable of solving.”
-Henry A. Barnes, traffic commissioner in Denver, Baltimore, and New York City, as referenced in Barnes'
autobiography, The Man With the Red and Green Eyes (E. P. Dutton and Company, 1965)

Source: Darcy Bullock Presentation at the TRB Traffic Signal Systems Committee Meeting in 2009 on Pedestrians.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Misuse of Level of Service and Travel Projections

This is the post that I wanted to write if I had only made the time. Nice debate on the use (or misuse) of Level of Service.

Levels of Service and Travel Projections: The Wrong Tools for Planning Our Streets? by Project for Public Spaces

This makes me think of Jane Jacobs and the Death and Life of Great American Cities. There were so many notable quotes from that book that bear repeating in our engineering curriculum that it's one of of the primary motivations for my being involved in training. A great insight into that book was offered by Kirk Paulsen who attended the PSU trip to the Netherlands this past summer. His post is here

Peter Koonce Bio Updated to 2012

Peter Koonce, P.E., is the Manager for the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation's Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS Division. Prior to serving with the City, he worked with Kittelson & Associates, Inc. He has served as an adjunct professor at Portland State University teaching graduate level courses in transportation engineering. Last year, he established a study abroad course in the Netherlands with Northeastern University and the Technical University in Delft. He is currently president of the Oregon Chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and was recently appointed Chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Committee on Traffic Signal Systems.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Portland UGB Trail: A Concept for Building the Region's Bike Network

A regional trail outside of Delft features excellent wayfinding.
I have often said that there is a lot that we can learn from the Dutch. The fact that they have 35% of their trips made by the bicycle is by design, not an accident. I spent the last summer learning with the PSU students about this when we explored the seven communities throughout the 2-week program. There was a lot about land use planning and facility construction that were part of our daily field trips that I am sure I never captured via my blog. This foundation of knowledge is serving me well as I think about the future of the Portland region's trail network.

On a bike ride this afternoon, I found the Gresham-Fairview Trail. I have passed the spot on the Springwater several times, but never explored the link it makes north to Fairview. I recall biking on the Springwater a year or so ago and someone from the City was doing a study of the corridor and a survey of the potential users. Apparently, the trail was opened last year with Blumenauer cutting the ribbon. At the time, when I rode past the surveyor they hadn't yet finished the bridge that would connect the Springwater to the new portions of the trail (the following link has a summary of the project in a text box next to a larger story about Gresham and wayfinding signs). The survey was mostly about use of the Springwater and origin-destinations of users of the Trail. I wasn't aware of the context the time. I must have missed the BikePortland coverage that can be found here.

The trail is a wonderful connection in East Portland. It connects several neighborhoods and is a major spine for the off-street network. The trail may be underused (compared to the Springwater), and it is something that seems easy to overlook because it is managed by the City of Gresham. This is something that Metro's Intertwine could help with, but I digress. It is in a great spot parallel to the I-205 path. The trail doesn't seem to have a good north end connection yet. That will come in Sections D & E as described in the Trail Master Plan.  It may sound like a complaint but often our projects only go so far and there's no common way to designate the end of a trail or a transition from the higher order facility to a shared experience. I found a Ride Report from the Tandem club that similarly critiqued the signage at the  northern end of the trail (I wasn't clear I was at the end) and the crossing of the light rail tracks (I actually got off the trail due to a missed sign) .

So the operative question is how do we build more of these sorts of facilities. It looked like they cobbled together federal, state, and City sources over ten years to get this done. The good news is Metro is active in this and have great staff working on the effort. There are a lot of good projects that have been completed, and the 40-mile loop is one of my favorites.

There's a host of complaints one could make about this. The most important one is why does it take so long? The easy answer, and this is largely speculation, is that we don't own the land, money is scarce (we've spent the bond money on larger natural areas as opposed to trails), an no one is jumping to give us that land like in the Lake Oswego Streetcar case. For this reason, I would focus some of the efforts on communities that are not yet built up.

Outside Portland's Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), the land is undeveloped because our forefathers had the vision to use land use laws to limit sprawl and restrict their use. The concept, inspired by my bike ride, is this:

For lands outside the UGB, or on the boundary itself, the local jurisdiction and Metro should team up to buy right of way to create/preserve a trail facility that would further build the regional network. The land would either be donated by the property owners and valued at the urban price point (assuming it is exempted and brought into the UGB) or Metro could use its Regional Trails resources to purchase the land at 10% above rural prices to provide the landowner some relief to the costs associated with the land use laws.

What about essential nexus?
There is the Dolan vs. The City of Tigard case that put limits on what the public agency could require from a citizen or development, but it seems like this would eliminate that because the compensation would be part of my concept.

Regional trails can serve as linear parks.
The rural equivalent of Portland's Sunday Parkways!
In the Netherlands, there are a lot of great examples of this sort of trail development in the rural environment. I found in talking to folks that some of these are used for longer commutes. They are not all trails and some of them are cyclepaths or one way roads that allow for some passing by vehicles. These facilities stretch throughout the country and there are excellent maps to show you where you are and the direction you're headed.

The system was a little disorienting at first, but if you had a smart phone and a GPS the system would give you instant access outside of the urban area that we would get if we did something similar to my concept above.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Ever since leaving Kittelson & Associates, Inc. I haven't had to update my resume very often. Here's the old one.

Professional Civil Engineer Licensed in Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Montana, and Virginia

MS Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, 1998
BS Civil Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, 1995

City of Portland, Bureau of Transportation, Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS Division Manager, November 2009-current
Manages the design, operations, and maintenance of the City’s traffic signals, street lighting, and ITS network. The position includes responsibility for 48 staff and a budget of $15 Million annually.
Kittelson & Associates, Inc., Principal Engineer, Portland, OR, 1998-2009
Participated in a variety of traffic operations, transportation planning, and transit operations projects across the United States and Canada, providing clients with a well-rounded perspective based on a diversity of expertise. Recognized leader in transit and signal systems specific issues, helping agencies plan traffic signal system and ITS improvements to make more sustainable communities. He is currently managing over $2M of consultant work activity and as many as 10 staff in Kittelson offices across the country. Managed the City of Portland’s Transit Signal Priority project (1999-2003), a $6M effort to upgrade over 250 traffic signals and the entire TriMet bus fleet (this project earned a Grand Award from the American Council of Engineering Consultants in 2003).
Portland State University, Adjunct Professor, 2002- current
Teaches a Summer Course in Transportation related to traffic signal timing and engineering applications and serves as an advisor to the PORTAL program, the regional data archive system at PSU.
Texas Transportation Institute, Graduate Research Assistant, 1997-1998
Kittelson & Associates, Inc., Transportation Analyst, Portland, OR, 1995-1997
TriMet, Intern, Portland, OR, 1994

Llewellyn Elementary School Foundation, Portland Public Schools, President, 2009
Accepted role as president for the Foundation to serve as organizer amongst the parents for supporting the academic programs focused on arts and music. Hosted activities ranging from a Remodeled Home Tour to Auction fundraisers.
Portland Bicycle Master Plan, Design Subcommittee, 2008-2009
Served as a technical representative throughout the past several months as the City worked on updating the Bicycle Master Plan. Activities included discussing policies with City staff about new traffic engineering applications and developing technical briefs for the Plan.
City of Milwaukie Budget Committee Member 2001-2005
Provided review of the City’s $35M annual budget as one of the 5-person citizen Committee that worked directly with the City Council and its City Manager. Reviewed work plans of every City department including Police, Public Works, etc asking questions related to the annual changes in capital programs and the asset management program the City employed.
Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association Chair 2000-2002
Served as Chair of the Neighborhood Association and applied for and managed grants for community events as diverse as neighborhood clean up days to concerts in the park. Worked with City leaders during the review of the Metro South Corridor planning process when the Portland to Milwaukie line was being reconsidered following the success of the Interstate MAX line. Was the primary author of the 14 points that lead neighborhood rail.

Transportation Research Board (TRB), Traffic Signal Systems Committee Secretary and Member of the Bus Transit Systems Committee
Institute of Transportation Engineers, multiple positions, currently serving on the Climate Change Task Force
Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition

National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Project 3-103 Update to the Traffic Signal Timing Manual, Panel Chair
National Bus Rapid Transit Institute, University of South Florida, Peer Review Panel
Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation, Strategic Planning Task Force
National Institute for Advanced Transportation Technology, Advisory Board

Outstanding Early Career, Oregon State University, 2009
Distinguished Young Professional Award, ITE Western District, 2007
Outstanding Service Award, Awarded by Oregon Section Student Chapter, 2001
Exceptional Student Award, Southwest University Transportation Center, 1998

SELECTED PRESENTATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS (additional available upon request)
Thompson, S.R., Christopher M. Monsere, Miguel Figliozzi, Peter Koonce, and Gary Obery, "Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals: Results from a State-of-the-Practice Review", selected for publication as part of 2013 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, http://www.its.pdx.edu/upload_docs/1354724032.pdf.

Koonce, Peter, “Remaking Traffic Signals in Support of Sustainability: Policy Based Transportation Operations”, Presentation at the Portland Chapter of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, Portland, OR, November 9, 2010.
Koonce, Peter, “Reduction of Environmental Load by Signal Control Improvement: Experience from the USA”, Presentation at the Annual Meeting of UTMS Japan, Tokyo, Japan, September 30, 2010
Koonce, Peter, “Transportation Engineering Applications: A Course for Future Practitioners with a Focus on Signal Timing and Multimodal Policies”, Presentation at the Transportation Research Board Committee on Traffic Signals Systems Summer Meeting, Moscow, Idaho, July 19, 2010.
Koonce, Peter, “Sustainable Transportation System Management: Innovative Concepts, Projects, and Partnerships”, Presentation at ITS America Annual Meeting, Houston, Texas, May 4, 2010
Koonce, Peter, “Transportation Operations Efforts to Reduce GHG”, Webinar presentation for AASHTO Transportation and Climate Change Resource Center, posted online: http://environment.transportation.org/center/products_programs/climate_change_webinars.aspx#04,  April 19, 2010
Koonce, Peter “Improving Traffic Signal Timing” Webinar Series for Institute of Transportation Engineers, 2009
Koonce, Peter, “Technology Evolution in Transit Signal Priority Applications”, Presentation at APTA Bus Rapid Transit Conference, Seattle, WA, May 5, 2009
Koonce, Peter, “An Overview of the FHWA Traffic Signal Timing Manual”, Presentation at the Institute of Transportation Engineers Spring Conference Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, March 23, 2009.
Koonce, Peter, etal, “Traffic Signal Timing Manual”, FHWA-HOP-08-02,  Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C. June 2008
Koonce, Peter, Lindstrom, Eric, Urbanik, Tom, Beaird, Scott. Improving the Application of Transit Signal Priority Using the NTCIP 1211 Standard. ITE Journal, Volume 78, Issue 4, pp 28-31, April 2008.
Yue Li, Peter Koonce, Meng Li, Kun Zhou, Yuwei Li, Scott Beaird, Wei-Bin Zhang, Larry Hegen, Kang Hu, Alex Skabardonis, and Z. Sonja Sun  “Transit Signal Priority Research Tools”, http://www.dot.ca.gov/newtech/researchreports/reports/2008/tsp_research_tools_final_report.pdf, Federal Transit Administration, May 2008.
Koonce, Peter, “Pedestrian Challenges to Traffic Engineers and How They Affect Traffic Signal Operations”, Presentation at the 87th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, January 15, 2008.
Koonce, Peter, “Signal Timing Policies and Practices”, Presentation and Paper in the Compendium of Papers for the Institute of Transportation Engineers Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA August 5-8, 2007.
Koonce, Peter, “An Overview of the FHWA Traffic Signal Timing Manual”, Presentation and Paper in the Compendium of Papers for the Institute of Transportation Engineers Western District Meeting, Portland, Oregon, July 15-18, 2007.
Burchfield, Rob, Peter Koonce, and Kevin Lee, “Improving Red Light Running Camera Site Selection”, Presentation at the Institute of Transportation Engineers Western District Meeting, Portland, Oregon, July 15-18, 2007.
Wolfe, Michael, Christopher Monsere, Peter Koonce, and Robert L. Bertini, “Improving Arterial Performance Measurement Using Traffic Signal System Data”, Submitted to the 2007 IEEE Arterial Conference.
Koonce, Peter, Paul Ryus, David Zagel, Young Park, and Jamie Parks, “An Evaluation of Comprehensive Transit Improvements—TriMet’s Streamline Program”, Journal of Public Transportation, Volume 9, No. 3, 2006.
Koonce, Peter, “Performance Measures in Traffic Signal Systems – A Practitoner’s Perspective”, Presentation at the TRB Sunday Workshop, Washington, DC, January 2006.
Koonce, Peter “Using Standards for Signal Priority”, APTA/FTA ITS Standards Workshop, Orlando, FL, January 2005.
Byrne, Neil, Peter Koonce, Rob Bertini, Chris Panglianan, Matt Lasky, “Using Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation to Evaluate Signal Control Strategies for Transit Signal Priority”, Paper presented to the 86th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, January 2005.
Kittelson, Wayne, Peter Koonce, Sonia Hennum, Sagar Onta, and Tim Luttrell, “Volume V: Traffic Analysis Toolbox Case Studies – Benefits and Applications”, Federal Highway Administration, November 2004.
Koonce, Peter, “Traffic Operations for Bus Rapid Transit”, Presentation at the APTA/FTA/ITE BRT Symposium in Orlando, FL, October 2004.
Koonce, Peter, “Importance of Bus Stop Location on Signal Priority”, Presentation at the ITE District 6 Meeting in Sacramento, CA, June 2004
Ringert, John, Peter Koonce, Karen Giese, and Scott Beaird “Portland Transit Signal Priority Technical Report”, Kittelson & Associates, Inc., Portland, Oregon, http://www.webs1.uidaho.edu/ce574f09/resources/Portland%20Transit%20Signal%20Priority%20Report.pdf, visited February 1, 2011, originally published January 2003

REFERENCES (available upon request)