Bike lanes experiment measures cyclist response to infrastructure design

Bike lanes experiment measures cyclist response to infrastructure design

A professor and students use goggles to test bikers’ riding behavior while traveling on Philadelphia’s bike lanes. Here, a snapshot of how Megan Ryerson is using data and technology to plan safer streets, and marry design and public health.

Megan Ryerson bikes in the protected Chestnut Street bike lane in University City. Camera-equipped eyeglasses measure pupil dilation, head movement, and gaze while cycling.

Megan Ryerson, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical & Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, assistant professor of city and regional planning at PennDesign, and research director of the $14 million PennDOT-funded Mobility 21 transportation research center, has an ambitious plan to make bike lanes safer.

Her pilot study, launched in October 2017 as a course alongside PennDesign students, is, to her knowledge, first-of-its-kind research that uses eye-tracking glasses — purchased with a seed grant from the Perelman School of Medicine to support interdisciplinary public health research — to study the movements of urban bikers who use the city’s bike lanes. The first 10 volunteer bikers for that test, vetted for their cycling skill level, rode a loop around University City from 30th Street to 45th Street, using the parking-protected Chestnut Street bike lane and the buffered-yet-unprotected lane on Walnut Street. During their ride, participants wore glasses equipped with inward- and outward-facing cameras that measure pupil dilation, head movement, where they were looking at any given time, and how long they held a gaze.

The research is the kind of field-to-spreadsheet data that may allow for building, if not exactly a leisurely experience for urban bikers and pedestrians, then at least a safer one.

Continue reading at Penn Today.