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TRC Students present at International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium
- By jposner
TRC Scholar Phoebe Spencer (CDAE) and undergrad researcher Ben Rouleau (CEMS) recently presented at the International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium in Seattle. The forum featured leading bicycle, urban design and built environment researchers from around the world.
Phoebe Spencer presented a paper, "Understanding the Bicycle as a Vehicle of Quality of Life," [Click Here to See Abstract] introducing research she has been undertaking as part of a UVM team with Professors Luis Vivanco, Richard Watts, Stephanie Kaza and Josh Farley. The Bicycling and Quality of Life project was funded through a University Transportation Center award from the TRC. Phoebe is currently finishing her Masters in Community Development and Applied Economics and her contribution to this effort represents a portion of her thesis research.
“The conference focused largely on bicycling within the context of urban planning, but also addressed various aspects of bike culture as well,” said Spencer on her return. “It was the first time this conference has been held, and it drew over 200 people from around the world. Keynote speakers were from the US, Netherlands, China, and New Zealand, so it had a very international vibe. Like other big bike conferences, there was a lot of praise for bicycle infrastructure in Europe and a push for similar models in the US and Oceania.”
Ben Rouleau participated in the poster session, presenting “Bicycling Beyond the Urban Core: What do we know about bicycling activities in suburban and exurban environments?” [Click To See the Poster] His research is based on work with TRC staff Jon Dowds and Jim Sullivan and faculty Brian Lee focused on collecting data on bikes and pedestrians throughout a variety of contexts within Chittenden County, from Burlington’s Church Street to dirt roads in Jericho and everywhere in between. “There is little data on bikes and pedestrians and how their volumes can be measured and predicted, so our work on data collection is important in advancing the field. There is even less data or research on bicycles in rural areas, which were a special focus of our work and a major research interest of mine” explained Rouleau.
In discussing why the conference was of value, Rouleau said, “While bicycling in cities is not my specific area of research, it is important to have a good understanding of the research that has been done there and how it is being applied. It is one thing to read the articles and studies, but meeting professors, graduate students, city planners, bicycle activists, and transportation engineers from all over the world who are working to advance our understanding of bicycling was an amazing experience. It was energizing to hear and feel the necessity of advancing non-motorized transportation modes and the safety of those who use them. There is much to be said about meeting a whole bunch of people you don't know, ride bikes with them in the Seattle rain, then slowly meet and talk to them over coffee after a presentation.”
Rouleau and Spencer found that many of the conference participants, especially those who work nationally in the US or other countries were interested in the research they had conducted. The conference was also productive as an introduction to new cutting edge data collection and analysis techniques and new modeling capabilities as well as being exposed to different ways to present findings. Several new conversations on future collaborations were also started.