News: Le Dantec Examines What Prevents People from Cycling on the Road

Le Dantec Examines What Prevents People from Cycling

Posted November 17, 2017

Christopher Le Dantec, an associate professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, and Kari Watkins, an associate professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, have started a new research project that looks at what happens while the cyclist is on the road. They are looking to collect environmental data to understand in more detail the attributes of stressful experiences that prevent people from cycling.

Since 2012, Le Dantec and Watkins have been working on a project called Cycle Atlanta, where they developed an app that lets cyclists record where they ride. The data has been used by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and Georgia Institute of Technology to provide better cycling infrastructure. What the researchers are trying to do, with sensors on bicycles, is to understand what is going on in the city in much greater detail.

They are not measuring the rider’s stress, but they’re looking at their environment, which is changing in Atlanta. Using this data, they can then determine what changes need to be made in particular areas, such as adding a bike lane or adjusting the speed limit. For planners working at the Atlanta Regional Commission, the information gathered by this research can help them determine where to put new bike lanes. They use the level traffic stress (LTS), a network measure for cyclists, to understand where there are gaps in the network that make people not want to bike.

“LTS 4 is the worst level. We call it ‘Strong and Fearless,’” said Watkins. “You may have someone who is quite timid, maybe a new cyclist or someone riding with kids, who would only ride LTS 1 or 2 segments. If one segment of road between a person’s origin and destination is rated as LTS 4, they aren’t going to make the trip by bike. So, we can use LTS to understand where there are gaps in the network that make it so that people will not bike.”

Starting last spring in Le Dantec’s project studio in the Digital Media program, students built prototypes of three sensor kits for bikes. The work continued through a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Research Experience for Undergraduates summer program he co-directs with Fleming Chair and Professor in the School of Computer Science Ellen Zegura, and Bistra Dilkina, assistant professor in Computational Science and Engineering, called Data Science for Social Good Civic Data Science. On the back of the bike, the sensor kit measures air quality, and it can differentiate what kind of traffic the cyclist is in. It also looks at how close and how fast cars are passing. On the front of the bike, sensors look at road quality and location.

Le Dantec and Watkins are seeking funding for the effort from multiple sources, and eventually they will need volunteers to ride roadways and rate their stress level.

The School of Literature, Media, and Communication is part of the Georgia Tech Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

For the full article, visit the Ivan Allen College home page.

 

 

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