The LEVER Initiative begun with a multi-stakeholder workshop that identified five key research themes that address many of the main questions faced by stakeholders, and are consistent with the expertise of the LEVER research team.
The LEVER Initiative will focus on aspects of LEVs that address the interests of both public- and private-sector industry partners. Much of the initial focus will be on e-bikes and other derivatives (e.g., e-trikes), since they are currently the most widespread LEV technology. The scope of the center will be broad enough to investigate other unforeseen LEV technologies that could emerge in the coming years. Many of the important questions about LEVs hinge on behavioral aspects of how LEVs are ultimately adopted and used. The LEVER will initially focus on five key research themes.
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This theme will include research efforts to understand how users consume, use, and value LEV technology. This theme will focus primarily on consumer adoption and use of different LEV variants, with a primary emphasis on e-bike technologies. This theme will also include activities that explore the role of LEVs in shared vehicle and campus travel demand management activities.
This theme will investigate research questions traditionally in the public domain. The primary focus will be the investigation of safety, sustainability, and mobility impacts of LEVs. Safety and sustainability of LEVs in the transportation system can inform policy related to the extent they should be encouraged or discouraged in the transportation system, and on what facilities they should operate.
Some types of e-bikes provide moderate physical activity (PA) to riders and are a form of active transportation (AT) that can improve health outcomes for riders. E-bikes provide less AT PA than cycling, but could help riders maintain longer term and higher volumes of PA over time because e-bikes do not require vigor ous activity as traditional bicycles. The health industry is interested in assessing e-bikes as a technology to increase and maintain PA, particularly among sedentary adults. In addition, users of e-bikes and other LEVs are exposed to air pollution during travel. As with other modes of transportation, this exposure can have impact on the user's health. The relative benefits of these modes on user health, considering PA benefits and other factors, are important research questions. This theme will explore the crossing themes of improved health outcomes from higher physical activity, countered by increased exposure to urban roadside air pollution compared to car driving and traditional cycling.
Freight system supply chains are generally very efficient at moving large quantities of goods between distribution centers. The "last mile" of the freight system requires a disproportionate amount of resources and has a large impact on environmental and economic performance, particularly in dense urban areas. LEVs provi de an opportunity to provide distributed and high performing (cost, effectiveness, and environment) technology for urban freight delivery. This theme will investigate new distribution models enabled by LEVs that can improve the operational and environmental performance of urban freight logistics systems.
The sharing economy in transportation is emerging alongside the development of advanced LEVs. In many ways, synergies between LEVs and sharing technology can create opportunities for increasing the LEV market, exposing more users to LEVs, and providing appropriate technology (LEVs) for many of the urban trip patterns that occur in shared vehicle systems. LEVs provide unique challenges and opportunities in shared vehicle environments. This research thrust will focus on identifying the role of LEVs in shared vehicle systems.