A Bloustein School graduate studio project team is the recipient of the 2022 New Jersey Planning Excellence Outstanding Student Project Award for their work exploring micromobility and active transportation options and infrastructure in Asbury Park, NJ. The students contributed to the broader impacts of a $1.5 million grant National Science Foundation (NSF) research grant under the Smart and Connected Communities program awarded to the Bloustein School in late 2020. Managing director Leigh Ann Von Hagen, senior research specialist Sean Meehan, and post-doctoral research associate Hannah Younes, Ph.D. of the Bloustein School’s Voorhees Transportation Center led the studio in the spring of 2022.
Students participating in the project included Rodas Bekele, Nadya Fadilah, Benjamin Gordon, Andrea He, Andrew Herrera, Tianrun Jiang, Jeffrey Kapala, Matthew Lehner, Elliot Lewko, Monika Pal, Dillon Turner, and Akshita Velpuru.
The NSF project is led by Clint Andrews, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Bloustein School, with support from Bob Noland, Distinguished Professor, Associate Dean of Faculty and Director of the Bloustein School’s Voorhees Transportation Center; Wenwen Zhang, Bloustein School Assistant Professor, and associates at the Rutgers School of Engineering and the Department of Computer Science. The project, “Making Micromobility Smarter and Safer” has focused on the effects that increased use of e-scooters, e-bikes, and other options have on the safety of pedestrians and micromobility users.
Working with Asbury Park’s Parking & Transportation Division, the student team sought to encourage expanded use and enhanced safety of non-motorist travel. With input and approval from the City of Asbury Park council and staff, the students developed a temporary pop-up bike and scooter lane demonstration project.
“We are especially grateful to the National Science Foundation Grant team led by Dr. Andrews, and the City of Asbury Park; in particular, the special assistance provided by James Bonnano, AICP/PP (MCRP ‘15) and Mike Manzella, AICP/PP (MCRP ’14),” said Von Hagen.
“This award from American Planning Association-New Jersey Chapter is indicative of the outstanding effort and dedication put forth by our graduate students, and they are truly deserving of this honor,” she continued.
Working with Mr. Bonnano, the students led the installation of the temporary bike and scooter lane in Asbury Park, which ran from April 1st to April 25th, 2022. The project team used multiple methods to assess the safety of the lane by combining traditional surveys with cutting-edge technology, leveraging biometric sensors such as eye-tracking glasses and galvanic skin response (GSR) sensors to gauge the stress levels and attentiveness of users.
As part of the project, the students also tested virtual reality equipment at the Rutgers Engineering Virtual Reality Lab and had first-hand experience riding an e-scooter on a 3-D model of the project area. As a final product, the students created an ArcGIS StoryMap to showcase the graphical elements of the project including photos, videos, maps, and a walk through the study area showing the plans for bike lane implementation. The demonstration project proved popular with Asbury Park residents, with about 90% of surveyed respondents supporting making the bike lanes permanent. “Road design favors automobiles, which resulted in 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2018 alone,” said Dr. Andrews. “With the rapid introduction of micromobility options such as e-scooters and e-bikes, people face substantial and growing risks on American streets where road designs cater to drivers and automobiles dominate.”
For more information about the project, visit https://bloustein.rutgers.edu/micromobility/research-projects/
Attendance at the awards dinner and the school sponsorship of the event was made possible through the generosity of Nicholas Masucci MCRP ’75, Senior Planning Fellow at the Bloustein School.