Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Comfort on Water Street; Sustainable Urban Mobility in the Context of Smart Cities: How Utilization of Non-motorized Transit Improves Lives in Urban Areas

Kutay, Cem, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Chen, T. Donna, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia
Heydarian, Arsalan, EN-Eng Sys and Environment, University of Virginia

The focus of the Capstone Project is to research, create, and test alternative roadway designs to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety in the Water Street corridor. The team will then test those designs using virtual reality (VR) and biometric data including both traditional surveys and novel methods such as simulation models. Alternative designs are implemented in the bicycle and pedestrian VR simulators in the Omni-Reality and Cognition Lab. A virtual reality environment that replicates the Water St. corridor has been designed, and the project team can alter this base environment to include the design alternatives and evaluate user comfort as the subject pedestrian and bicyclist virtually walks and cycles through the new designs. The team tests those design alternatives, evaluating each alternative through user testing, and determining the preferred alternative through the feedback by the users. The end-user experimental studies are used to evaluate how different alternative designs impact pedestrian and bicyclist behavior, perception of safety, and comfort. These experimental studies are conducted within a fully immersive VR environment, where participants’ behavioral and preferential information will be collected via physiological indicators such as heart-rate, skin temperature, and arm movements to be collected through wearables, as well as survey-based methods. The evaluation methodology uses different criteria such as cost, safety outcomes, operations across all modes, constructability, aesthetics and environmental impacts, equity, context sensitive design, user perceived safety and comfort, and documents all justifications for that criteria including design standards, experimental design, and data collection. Finally, a set of design plans for the preferred alternative are included in the final design report.

The STS portion of this paper focuses on sustainable urban mobility as a vital topic in the context of smart cities, through utilization of NMT alternatives to improve the quality of lives for people. While the non-motorized alternatives may be seen as the most viable option in terms of sustainability on multiple fronts, there are a number of challenges faced to reach the desired level of pedestrian, bicycle and public transit methods of transportation. The research sheds light on the complex relationships between different stakeholders while promoting the NMT alternatives to achieve sustainable urban mobility, and seeks to answer the question, how the social, economic, political, environmental, health and safety related factors influence the ultimate goal of improving the quality of lives in the context of a smart city. A strong connectivity with Actor Network Theory is explored as the main underlying socio-technical framework in explaining those relationships.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
safety improvements, virtual reality, sustainable urban mobility, non-motorized transport, actor network theory, smart cities

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Systems and Information Engineering
Technical Advisor: T. Donna Chen, Arsalan Heydarian
STS Advisor: Bryn Seabrook
Technical Team Members: Emily Chen, Ricky Dobson, Nicholas Kim, Cem Kutay, Tiffany Nguyen, Mark Schenkel, Brendan Vachris

Issued Date: