Research Projects

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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, Grant #RGPIN-2016-04034


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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, Grant #430-2016-00019


Veemo Prototype

Image from VeloMetro Mobility, Inc.

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


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Pedestrian and bicycle travel speeds: behavioural theory and modeling

2016-2017

Most existing travel analysis tools treat active travel speed as a constant and assume that bicyclists and pedestrians choose shortest-distance routes. No behavioural models of active travel speed choice yet exist, and there is almost no fundamental knowledge of how active travelers make speed choices or how they assess and value energy expenditure and crash risk at varying speeds. Modeling speed choices could lead to more accurate, sensitive, and useful travel analysis tools, which are needed for infrastructure and service planning, and for health, safety, and environmental impact assessments, among other applications. This research aims to develop new understanding and behavioral models of active travel speeds. The four-phase research plan will 1) identify relevant behavioural theories, 2) develop speed choice modeling frameworks, 3) evaluate candidate frameworks with observational speed data, and 4) identify research needs, applications and partners for future work. Potential speed choice behavioral hypotheses and modeling frameworks will be developed building on travel behaviour theories in the literature. Candidate frameworks will be evaluated on the bases of theoretical foundation, operationalization, validation with observational data, and compatibility with broader travel modeling frameworks. The final phase of the research will develop inventories of key scholarly research questions and potential applications for speed choice modeling in professional practice.

UBC Hampton Fund Research Grand in the Humanities and Social Sciences, New Faculty Award


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Field Bicycle Coast-Down Testing

2016

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.


Many bicycles in small outdoor bike rack.

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.


Image from ChipDrop

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

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


Managing inter-class student travel on a large university campus

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