Using virtual reality for assessing perceptual responses by pedestrians and bicyclists to the built environment

CTECH researchers, Ricardo Daziano (Civil and Environmental Engineering and Systems Engineering) and So-Yeon Yoon (Design and Environmental Analysis), have been exploiting immersive built-environment scenarios to test how cyclists react to the differing types of cycling infrastructure. 28 experimental cycling conditions have been created and tested with the goal of identifying which infrastructure conditions would best encourage the adoption of active transportation for a healthful living while ensuring cyclists feel safe during their rides. At the end of the spring 2019 semester, 50 Cornell undergraduate students participated in the in-lab experiment.

Daziano and Yoon are currently analyzing the data they collected, which includes physiological signals that measure emotions of the participants. Because of the innovative tools that are being used to analyze demand for active transportation, even at this early stage this research is capturing attention in the transportation community. Daziano recently shared insights about the design and the benefits of the controlled experiments at invited talks at C2SMART, a Tier 1 University Transportation Center led by the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, and at Technion in Israel, as part of an academic visit funded by the Ruch Exchange Grant of the Jacobs-Cornell Institute.

Whereas CTECH supported the project that led to the design of the experimental conditions “Active transportation and the emotion-stress-health link: virtual reality for assessing perceptual responses by pedestrians and bicyclists to the built environment”, the team recently received additional CTECH funding for a project entitled “Immersive, highly realistic in-lab experiments of cycling route choices”. With this new support, Daziano and Yoon will now incorporate discrete choice games within the Virtual Reality experiments for improved, more realistic collection of stated choices to derive policy recommendations about characteristics of the built environment that create optimal incentives for the adoption of active transportation.