Research Projects

  • Incorporating pollution inhalation and energy expenditure into network analysis for active transportation

    2016 – 2021

    The objectives of this research are to investigate the effects of transportation networks on energy expenditure and pollution inhalation during active travel, including variations in travel speed and breathing rate, and to develop and apply multi-criteria route and network analysis tools that integrate pollution inhalation and energy expenditure with other travel costs (time, crash risk, noise, comfort, etc.) and traveller route and speed choices. Outcomes of this research will be applicable by transportation engineers and planners to explicitly include pollution inhalation among other factors during project development and selection. This information is crucial to our long-range transportation goals, both to promote and to safely accommodate increased walking and bicycling in Canadian cities. Dissemination of research results will also enable active travellers to make more informed travel choices.

    Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Discovery Grant #RGPIN-2016-04034

  • Human-electric hybrid vehicles: Implications of new non-auto mobility options for street design and policy in the Vancouver region

    2019 – 2021

    New mobility options create opportunities to address enduring challenges in the transport sector related to traffic congestion, air pollution, climate change, public health, energy consumption, and more. At the same time, they present new challenges to urban transport systems where there is already competition for space and access among road users, which can spill over into conflicts. How can we capture the potential benefits of more diverse travel options, while mitigating the risks of a wider variety of vehicles and services operating within constrained city street spaces? The objectives of this research are to address two broad questions: 1) How will new non-auto mobility options (electric bicycles and other no-/low-power vehicles) impact speed dynamics on non-auto facilities and interactions among non-auto travellers? and 2) Given these new non-auto mobility options, what transportation system policies, plans, and designs are needed to mitigate conflicts among non-auto modes? Is the Vancouver region ready to accommodate these new modes with existing infrastructure and policies? For example, do we need to re-think the operations and even terminology of “bike lanes”?

    TransLink New Mobility Research Grant

  • Electric pedal-assist, physical capability, and cycling accessibility: Do cycling speed and energy expenditure mediate route and travel mode choices?

    2019 – 2021

    Many Canadian cities have strategic goals to increase “active” travel (walking and cycling), as a means to reduce emissions, congestion, and physical inactivity. For example, Vancouver’s long-range transportation plan articulates a target of one-third of trips by foot and bicycle in 2040, with the largest increase from current travel patterns planned for bicycle trips. Improving cycling conditions to accommodate “All Ages and Abilities” of potential riders is a key strategy to expand access to and participation in cycling. The proposed research aims to create new knowledge about how cities can accommodate cycling by individuals with diverse physical preferences and capabilities through insights into how cycling speed and energy expenditure (physical exertion/effort) mediate route and travel mode decisions. This research addresses three main behaviours of interest in transport planning: travel mode, route, and speed choices. The hypothesis is that individuals have diverse preferences and capabilities related to energy expenditure during travel, which manifest as different travel behaviours. For example, travellers with a higher perceived cost of energy will likely bicycle slower, take longer routes to avoid hills, and be more influenced by the availability of electric pedal-assist bicycles (e-bikes). Such considerations are important for transport policy, infrastructure planning, facility design, and safety and health impact assessments. Understanding speed and energy preferences and capabilities, and their influence on travel behaviour, can enhance transport planning tools by making them more accurate and sensitive to traveller and vehicle characteristics such as physical capability, bicycle weight, and electric motor assistance. Planners would be able to answer questions such as: Would lighter bike-share bicycles increase usage or diversity of riders? Do e-bike speed regulations effect adoption by younger or older travellers? And how would routing a bikeway over vs. around a hill impact cycling accessibility for different groups? Anticipated outputs include academic papers and analytical tools for planning practice, as well as policy and planning recommendations for Canadian cities. The recent emergence of e-bikes and other mobility devices such as electric scooters amplifies the importance of the proposed research for transport planning. Canadian cities face major decisions about vehicle regulation, operating rules, and sharing systems on public facilities. The proposed research has the potential to make important contributions to our understanding of travel behaviour and planning practice to accommodate cycling by diverse travellers.

    Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Development Grant #430-2019-00049

  • REACT Laboratory for comprehensive study of urban active travellers in controlled and uncontrolled environments

    2018 – 2020

    Many Canadian cities have ambitious goals to increase the share of travel by “active” modes of transportation – primarily walking and bicycling. For example, Vancouver has a non-auto mode share goal of two-thirds of trips by 2040, with the largest percentage change in bicycle trips. But active travellers have long been neglected in most transport systems analyses which focus on motor vehicle travel, and transportation professionals need innovative new tools to better plan, design, and manage urban transport systems for increased active travel. Better understanding of active travel behaviour and performance is vital to the design of sustainable transport infrastructure, mitigation of negative health and safety impacts, development of advanced human-powered and human-electric hybrid vehicles, and management of transport systems to achieve diverse efficiency, equity, and environmental goals. The two long-term goals of this research program are 1) to advance deep and detailed understanding of how people move around in cities when outside of motor vehicles, and 2) to use that knowledge to develop strategies and technologies for more sustainable and healthy urban transport systems. Accomplishing these goals requires comprehensive study of active travellers in multiple scales and contexts, including experimentation with highly-instrumented travellers in controlled and uncontrolled environments. Laboratory, field, and naturalistic study methods each have strengths and weaknesses for studying active travellers, with a general trade-off between experimental control and authenticity of behaviour. Integrated research methods are needed that can capture the experimental control and measurement precision of laboratory studies with the behavioural realism of naturalistic studies. In addition, multi-context study designs can increase the value of data by cross-validation and calibration in other contexts.

    Canadian Foundation for Innovation and BC Knowledge Development Fund

  • Web data extraction and mining to help cities understand the impacts of new mobility services

    2018 – 2019

    The transportation sector is entering an era of increasingly both “big” and “proprietary” data. New technological trends are emerging that shift the most critical sources of transportation system data from roadside infrastructure to personal and vehicle-based communications. This trend has been moving data and knowledge from the public realm to the private, inhibiting public debate and decision-making. However, novel urban analytics techniques can extract information from public and semi-public data sources, providing important insights into the impacts of emerging mobility services. The objectives of the proposed research are to generate multi-modal integrated datasets of novel urban mobility services (carshare, bikeshare, ride-hailing), to use the datasets to investigate and model the interacting demand for these services (as substitutes and complements), and to engage with local governments to share insights about the impacts of new mobility services.

    Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative, Research Seed Funding

  • Development of an electric bicycle incentive program at the municipal scale

    2018 – 2019

    Electric bicycles (E-bikes) are an emerging mode of travel in Canadian cities. With declining purchase prices for E-bikes and increasing cycling infrastructure in many cities, E-bike use is increasing for personal and business travel – and even for some local deliveries. The City of Victoria is making significant investments in cycling, walking and public transit infrastructure in order to support an efficient and effective multi-modal transportation network. E-bikes have not yet been an area of focus in the municipality, however transportation electrification features prominently in the City’s Climate Leadership Plan. Victoria seeks to understand the role that electric bicycles could play in advancing transportation and climate action goals and what they as a municipality can do to reduce barriers and accelerate/expand E-bike adoption among residents and businesses. The objectives of this research project are to develop and forecast the expected costs and impacts of a municipal-led incentive program for E-bikes, which can subsequently be implemented by the City of Victoria. The proposed research will provide important information for Victoria to make strategic transportation and climate action investments and will also provide information about the potential contribution of E-bikes in other Canadian cities.

    Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Partnership Engage Grant

  • Perceptions of Comfort and Safety for Non-Motorized Road User Interactions in Vancouver

    2018 – 2019

    This study examines different perspectives on pedestrian and cyclist interactions on city streets in Vancouver. We will investigate systematic differences in the perceptions of interactions among stakeholders using semi-structured interviews and video review by community stakeholders, transportation professionals, and the general public. Different dimensions of interaction severity will be considered and contrasted, including yielding compliance, traveller comfort, and risk of injury. The goals of this research are to illuminate the severity of conflicts among non-motorized travellers, provide insights into how different groups of people may view the same interactions, and help the city develop strategies to deescalate conflicts among road users.

    with Dr. Meghan Winters (Simon Fraser University) and the City of Vancouver

  • Incorporating electric bicycles into urban transportation systems in British Columbia

    2016 – 2018

    Electric bicycles are emerging as an urban travel mode that blends some of the convenience of private automobiles with some of the emissions, congestion, travel cost, and physical activity benefits of traditional non-motorized bicycles. Promotion of electric bicycles could increase non-auto mode share, but relatively little is known about the potential for electric bicycles to contribute to achieving urban transportation system goals. Urban planning for electric bicycles currently suffers from insufficient understanding of electric bicycle performance on transportation facilities (particularly interactions with other users of bicycle facilities) and of electric bicycle use outside a small set of early adopters. Electric bicycle policy has lagged the rapidly evolving market, and there is a lack of clear, cohesive public policy regarding regulation, infrastructure and incentives. This research will investigate the factors that influence the role of electric bicycles in urban transportation systems, with the goal of informing urban planning to promote and accommodate electric bicycles in Canadian cities. The research objectives are to: characterize current electric bicycle users, usage and policies in BC, examine the potential for increased adoption of electric bicycles to address urban transportation system goals, identify technical, behavioral and institutional barriers to electric bicycle adoption and alignments and misalignments in policies and perceptions among stakeholders, recommend actions by municipal, provincial and federal governments to remove barriers, maximize benefits and mitigate risks of electric bicycle adoption and identify research needs and stakeholders for future study. The proposed research will generate new knowledge about influences on electric bicycle use and will inform urban planning practice with specific policy recommendations to incorporate electric bicycles into urban transportation systems in BC and elsewhere in Canada.

    Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Insight Development Grant #430-2016-00019

  • Experienced and Perceived Safety of Pedestrians and Cyclists on the UBC Campus

    2017 – 2018

    As cycling is an increasingly common mode of transportation in many cities, conflicts between cyclists and other road users present a growing safety concern. While bicycle-motor vehicle conflicts are most often studied, conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians is a growing issue, particularly where cyclists and pedestrians share multi-use paths. The University of British Columbia (UBC) Vancouver Campus and surrounding area is rapidly growing, with a 58% increase in daytime population over the past 10 years. In response to increased travel demand, UBC Campus and Community Planning (C+CP) has sought to enhance non-automobile travel options on and around campus, including improvements to walking and cycling facilities. Along with an increase in the number of cyclists and pedestrians, there has been an increase in reported conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians on campus, including in the designated ‘Pedestrian Priority Zone’. However, due to a reliance on anecdotal and complaint-driven data, there is not a clear picture of the scope and intensity of the problem. The lack of clear information on the extent of pedestrian-cyclist conflicts and collisions impedes the development of mitigation measures – a problem similarly faced by the City of Vancouver and many other jurisdictions with shared pedestrian-bicycle facilities. This research aims to quantify the extent of pedestrian-bicycle conflicts and collisions at UBC, and identify opportunities to make cycling and walking on campus safer and more comfortable through policy, infrastructure and/or programming interventions.

    In collaboration with UBC SEEDS and Campus and Community Planning

  • Environmental and operational analysis of a novel urban mobility service using human-electric hybrid vehicles

    2016 – 2017

    VeloMetro (http://www.velometro.com/) is a new urban mobility company dedicated to providing a practical and sustainable transportation alternative for a wide array of urban travelers. VeloMetro has designed a fully-enclosed electric-assist velomobile, and is introducing a vehicle sharing service, Veemo, using the new vehicles. Veemo is a truly novel system: the vehicles blend characteristics of bicycles and automobiles, and the service blends facets of bike-share systems and free-floating car-share services. Thus, the potential performance and usage of Veemo are difficult to predict. VeloMetro wants to tune the vehicles and service to efficiency and environmental objectives, and so needs to understand how travelers use the velomobiles and how usage is influenced by vehicle and service attributes. VeloMetro also needs a robust analysis of the environmental impacts of Veemo, particularly displaced auto emissions. This research project aims to develop new understanding about the potential performance, usage, and environmental benefits of Veemo with the following objectives: 1) evaluate travel patterns of Veemo users during a pilot launch of the service at the University of British Columbia, 2) estimate optimal operations attributes for scaling up the Veemo service, and 3) estimate the environmental impacts of Veemo at the pilot and urban scales. The proposed research will provide important information to VeloMetro for tuning the Veemo vehicles and service to desired efficiency and environmental outcomes, and for scaling up the service and entering new markets. The potential role of human-electric hybrid vehicles in sustainable urban transportation systems in Canada will be illuminated, and Vancouver and other Canadian cities could accrue economic and environmental benefits from expanded low-cost and sustainable urban mobility options.

    Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Engage Grant #EGP 499905-16

  • Best Practices for Bike Storage Facilities in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings

    2016 – 2017

    Multi-unit residences often have crowded or underutilized bicycle storage areas that hinder active transportation choices. Using market housing as well as faculty and staff housing on the University of British Columbia’s campus, this study is conducting a survey of residents as well as field studies to identify the current and latent demand for bicycle storage. The results could improve municipal regulations and sustainability guidelines for bicycle storage including parking hardware, shared storage design and storage management programs.

    In Partnership with UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program, UBC Properties Trust, and Polygon Development

  • Managing inter-class student travel on a large university campus

    2017 – 2017

    In this study we analyze student travel between classes on the UBC campus, investigating issues in distances and routing, with consideration of different travel options and modal availability (by foot, wheelchair, skate, personal bicycle, shared bicycle, etc.). A wide range of solutions and countermeasures are explored, including course scheduling strategies, changes to facility design and prioritization, and potential new mobility options and services on campus.

    In collaboration with UBC Campus and Community Planning

  • Information and communication technology for arborists to reduce urban truck travel and emissions

    2017 – 2017

    ChipDrop (http://getchipdrop.com/) is a new information and communication technology connecting urban arborists with gardeners seeking wood chips. The new service has the potential to increase efficiency for arborists and in the process reduce urban truck travel and emissions. In this project, we use data provided by ChipDrop to analyze changes in operational efficiency and estimate reductions in truck travel and associated emissions of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants.

    In collaboration with ChipDrop

  • Field Bicycle Coast-Down Testing

    2016 – 2017

    For bicycles and other human powered vehicles, it is relevant to understand the links between energy expenditure and travel behavior (e.g., route and speed choices) as well as travel impacts (e.g., pollutant intake/uptake and health effects). Energy expenditure and breathing rate are related to the resistance forces that bicyclists must overcome, in particular rolling resistance (i.e. the resistance due to friction between wheels and pavement) and air resistance (i.e. drag or aerodynamic resistance). In this project, we aim to quantify rolling and air resistance parameters for a wide range of urban bicyclists, and connect those parameters to other traveler characteristics (bicycle type, trip purpose, bicycling frequency, etc.). We first develop and validate a field bicycle “coast-down” test in which parameters of interest are extracted from observed deceleration data, and then deploy the test during an intercept survey. Study results are used in behavioral travel models and in estimation of pollutant inhalation, physical activity, and health impacts during transportation system analysis and planning.