Engineering students working on the Vernon transit project are Alex Schuirmann (left)

Engineering students working on the Vernon transit project are Alex Schuirmann (left)

Students tackle transportation

The initiative will see students develop a neighbourhood active travel plan for East Hill residents

How to coax residents from a Vernon neighbourhood to park their cars and get active is the challenge facing four students in the School of Engineering at the University of B.C. Okanagan.

The initiative will see students develop a neighbourhood active travel plan for East Hill residents.

Active travel focuses on walking, cycling and transit as a primary means of transportation.

“Vernon is a highly automobile-dependent community, with most trips taken via single-occupant vehicles,” said Gord Lovegrove, associate professor and project supervisor.

“If this trend continues as Vernon grows, residents will experience increased traffic congestion, vulnerability to an increase in chronic diseases and obesity, decreased air quality, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.”

The city of Vernon is keen to tackle these issues and its transportation plan focuses on transit, cycling and walking initiatives, setting the target for 2031 of 20 per cent of trips by foot or bicycle.

“This pilot project is expanding on the successes of the city’s previous planning, programming, engineering and infrastructure upgrades,” said Wendy Majewski, the city’s transportation demand management co-ordinator with the City of Vernon.

Fourth-year engineering students Luke Friesen, Sandra Iroegbu, Cody Marwood and Alex Schuirmann  will begin their work by surveying East Hill residents to develop a benchmark database of current travel modes,  as well as identifying barriers to active transportation.

Using the data and current research into active transportation models that have been successful in other cities, students will then create a series of recommendations to encourage active modes of travel.

“As a final step, student engineers will create an implementation strategy for the East Hill neighbourhood active travel plan that could serve as a model for other Vernon neighbourhoods, and present it to the city,” said Lovegrove.

“This plan will include infrastructure upgrade designs needed to enhance and encourage the active travel plan, as well as an educational component.”

 

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