Archive for the 'Transportation' Category

A look inside Arlington’s community: bicycles, gardens, and business as usual

Arlington is not what it appears to be at first glance. On the  outside, it’s a city of sprawling strip malls with large roadways  connecting cars to the larger DFW metroplex. On the inside, it’s a city  of beautiful and well-established neighborhoods, friendly local  businesses, and a diverse and growing activist community.

Arlington is infamously known as the largest city in the U.S. without  public transportation, making personal vehicle transportation nearly  inevitable. UT Arlington reached a record enrollment of almost 33,000 students this year, defining Arlington a college town in principle but not in practice. Almost 35% of its population is under the age of 25, yet it’s  quintessentially a commuter city with a large proportion of the  University population opting to live in neighboring cities. However, a  growing number of concerned citizens, community activists, business  owners and students are working hard to change Arlington from the inside  out.

Bike Friendly Arlington (BFA) is a group of cyclists organized to promote bicycle and  pedestrian infrastructure within the city. The group is composed of  people from a diverse background, including UTA students and local business employees. The group is modeled after Bike  Friendly groups started in Oak Cliff, Denton, Fort Worth, Dallas, and  Bedford, and others sprouting up all over  the metroplex. So far, BFA has been successful in supporting the Bike & Hike Master Plan and the Thoroughfare Development Plan, which will function over a 30 year time scale to delineate  bike lanes and implement and/or refurbish sidewalks along some of  Arlington’s lesser-congested roadways.

BFA has also been successful in incorporating businesses into the cause. Downtown Arlington establishments, such as Maverick’s Bar on Main Street, have served as meet-up spots for the group. Potager Café and Health & Harmony House have hung BFA signs at  their establishments and even offered a discount to bikers to show their support. These establishments, among  others, have seen their weekend business triple because  of the popular bicycle “pub rolls”, which have attracted over 35 riders,  including cyclists from Fort Worth and Dallas. The group, which has  grown since its creation a year ago, will convene to show their support  for the Bike & Hike Master Plan at the City Council Hearing on March 22, 2011, and are expecting a record number of supporters.

Arlington’s citizens and UTA students are also organizing around gardens and the Downtown Arlington Farmer’s Market.  Chowgene Koay, the President of the UTA Environmental Society, has been  volunteering at the Farmer’s Market introducing interested passers-by in  his personally engineered aquaponics systems, which he builds at no  charge from re-purposed materials. His dedication to the Environmental Society,  which is rooted in his vision of an ideal community, is indispensable to Arlington’s growth as a sustainable city. He has brought students,  residents, and business owners together by freely discussing his  passions and ideas about permaculture design, aquaponics, and community  sustainability and has found that many people excitedly share his  vision. The Environmental Society has held garden installation potlucks  and has been working to propose a Green Fund initiative to the Student Council in order to fund student-led projects in sustainability.

Another initiative that has gotten a lot of positive attention is the establishment of the City of Arlington community garden, which will be built by Parks and Recreation officials and University volunteers this Thursday, March 3rd through Saturday, March 5th.  Many of the same people involved in the bicycle movement and in UTA’s  Environmental Society will be lending a hand. The community garden will  serve as yet another place for Arlington’s citizens to come together  with ideas for a brighter future. Arlington is not exactly what it  appears to be at first glance. The city has a lot of heart on the inside  and its citizens are working hard everyday to show its true self to the world  outside.

Park(ing) Day, Sept. 17

This was submitted by Michele Berry of the Student Planning Association:

Since 2005 groups and individuals across the globe have participated in PARK(ing) Day, an annual event innovated by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, in which activists, artists, and other urban thinkers turn parking spots into temporary public parks for the day.  The purpose and mission of PARK(ing) Day is “to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”  The event is organized on-line and acted out on local city streets across the globe.
This year the Student Planning Association with the support of the Office of Sustainability is creating a PARK(ing) space at UT Arlington.  The goal is to encourage students to think about how urban space is used and how these uses affect quality of life and quality of the natural environment.  All are welcome to come enjoy the park and discuss urban spaces and sustainability.  Information on PARK(ing) Day, sustainability and a good relaxing time will be available in the PARK(ing) space on September 17th in student parking lot 49, near the pedestrian bridge.  Visit www.parkingday.org for more details.

Shorthorn story, Sept. 19

At urging of Grad Student Senators, new Saturday shuttle route is adopted

“Maiden voyage” of new MavMover route and schedule, Aug. 7. Left to right: Teju Hari, GSS senator (Electrical Engineering), Jenny Blankenship, past GSS Executive Board senator (SUPA); Clyde Sifore, Public Safety Officer/driver (UTA-PD), Frederick Lopez, senator (SUPA). Not pictured:  Andy Meckfessel, senator and map-maker (SUPA).

“Maiden voyage” of new MavMover route and schedule, Aug. 7. Left to right: Teju Hari, GSS senator (Electrical Engineering), Jenny Blankenship, past GSS Executive Board senator (SUPA); Clyde Sifore, Public Safety Officer/driver (UTA-PD), Frederick Lopez, senator (SUPA). Not pictured: Andy Meckfessel, senator and map-maker (SUPA).

 

The following was provided by Jenny Blankenship

The UT Arlington shuttle service introduced a new route and schedule Aug. 7 to improve service for students stranded on campus while reducing wasted fuel and lost time associated with increasing traffic jams. The changes resulted from a three month investigation by a team including School of Urban and Public Affairs graduate senators and was facilitated by the administration’s willingness to meet student needs.

 The Mav Mover formerly transported students to one major retailer Saturday mornings and to the Parks Mall Saturday afternoons. The limited locations and times were directly related to increasing traffic jams. Students complained especially international students who came to campus without vehicles.

Teju Hari, an electrical engineering graduate student senator, brought constituent concerns to the attention of the Graduate Student Senate on Sept. 16, 2009 after several students were left stranded at a retailer because of the split schedule. Timothy Caldwell, GSS President, approved the formation of a Shuttle Service Committee chaired by Jenny Blankenship of the GSS Executive Board. She sought assistance from Professor Jianling Li, who encouraged transportation class members to help. Frederick Lopez and Andrew Meckfessel came forward and joined the committee. Blankenship wrote GSS Resolution 09-06 that passed Nov. 4, 2009.

The group met weekly over a three-month period and evaluated the shuttle route for speed, efficiency and student-friendliness. Mav Mover patrons were surveyed and 10 ghost riders evaluated Mav Mover benefits and drawbacks from a student-user perspective. Hari developed a matrix offering greater variety, flexibility and opportunities for campus-stranded students to shop and meet personal needs. Increased entertainment and restaurant options, including ethnic and vegetarian service, as well as retailers from low-dollar, mid-range and high-dollar ranges were sought. A variety of banks, tax services, dentists, eye care providers, dry cleaning services, personal grooming, and broader grocery shopping options were woven together to meet the matrix of student needs.

Lopez determined that shifting away from single retail stops toward commercial cluster stops could meet the needs Hari described. Lopez developed a matrix of viable shuttle stop options within a few-mile-radius of the campus. A reasonable shuttle bus route, taking vehicle size, weight and classification, as well as road conditions and traffic flow into consideration was created. Avoiding wasted gasoline and time in major traffic delays remained a key goal. Test-drives established proposed schedule routes and times.

Meckfessel applied his architectural and planning experience to create user-friendly maps for proposed shuttle routes. Maps serve important communication functions for international students exploring shuttle services. Meckfessel’s maps haven’t been incorporated into the shuttle web site yet but remain easily adjustable to keep pace with changes to the route maps.

Numerous communication problems concerning ease of access to the shuttle schedule were identified in addition to the map problems. Students complained that typing “bus,” “shuttle,” or “transportation” in the UT Arlington Web site home page search box didn’t link the inquirer to the shuttle schedule. Requests for a shuttle link on the home page was declined by Jerry Lewis, vice president of communications, but he ensured the search words became effective.

Individuals spend $10 to $20 to reach any one of the three stops by taxi. The Mav Mover costs $2 per rider. The new route, effective Aug. 7, 2010, represents a slightly modified version of the GSS proposed route. It effectively and efficiently brings students within a half-mile walking distance of these and other Arlington businesses:

General: 4-Corner Frame Shop, Aldi’s Food Market, Antique Mall, Baby’s R’Us, Bank of America, Blockbuster, Book Rack, Budget Rent-A-Car, Computer Outlet, Dollar General, Chase Bank, CVS Pharmacy, dry cleaners, Fallas Factory Outlet Store, Game Stop, Gene Allen Gift Shop, Target Superstore, Tom Thumb, Wells Fargo and more.

Eateries: Blackeyed Pea, Blue Danube Restaurant, Burger Box, Chili’s, Ci Ci’s Pizza, Classic Burger & Shakes, Corner Baker, El Chico Restaurant, Jade Café, Mijo’s, Old Town Hamburger, Papa John’s, Patty’s Pantry, Pure Bliss, Quiznos, Red Oven, Schlotzsky’s Deli, Sonic, Starbucks, YoBerg Frozen Yogurt and more.

Personal Care: Hefler’s Hairport, Katie’s, Mary’s Barber Shop, Nail Center, Pro Cuts, Queen Nails, Sports Clips, and many more.

Parks Mall: Major department stores, Arcades, Dentists and Optometrists, Electronics, Food Court, Ice-skating, Jewelers, Movie theatres, Photographers, and many Specialty shops.

The shuttle service spreads UTA’s economic impact more evenly across the city and effectively employs limited public transit in an anti-transit city.

Shuttle schedule

Graduate Student Senate

Contact GSS

 

Sustainability Committee meeting, Aug. 10

A car-sharing program, a new website, and guest speakers will highlight the University Sustainability Committee meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, in the Carlisle Suite at the E.H. Hereford University Center. Faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.

Information on the car-sharing program can be found at tryparkingit.com, a website managed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Mindy Mize, program manager for NCTCOG, will speak on the car-sharing program and Air North Texas.

Other guest speakers include Donald Gatzke, dean of the School of Architecture; Laura Fiffick, environmental manager for Gresham, Smith and Partners; and Pamela Sexton from the Department of Public Works and Transportation for the City of Arlington.

Refreshments will be served.

Update on carbon footprint reduction

Yesterday I updated the PSC Steering Committee on the carbon footprint reduction initiative. The committee requested that Sustainability Director Meghna Tare prepare a proposal on how to formally get footprint reduction planning underway.

Presentation

North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit

On October 28th UTA hosted the North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit. The event was co-sponsored by the University of Texas at Arlington, the National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program and the Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. The student groups involved with bringing this event to campus were:

Air & Waste Management Association at UTA

Environmental Society at UTA

International Business Society at UTA

Student Planning Association at UTA

UTA Volunteers

The first-ever North Central Texas Campus Climate Summit brought together over 50 participants from 15 different universities and colleges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The summit provided opportunities for faculty, students, staff and administrators from the region to get together to share ideas, best practices and resources to accelerate climate change and sustainability solutions. The main themes explored were 1) Transforming the Curriculum to Address Eco-literacy 2) Green Workforce Development and 3) Comprehensive Greening of Campus Operations.

NCTCCS Website

Program and Agenda

Mission Statement

Presentation Files

Workshop Descriptions

Sponsors and Organizers

“Sustainable Fuel and Vehicle Technologies,” Nov. 10

Sustainable Fuel and Vehicle Technologies:
Update on Progress and Problems

1:30-2:30pm, Tuesday, November 10, 100 Nedderman Hall
Prof. Mehrdad Ehsani

Advanced Vehicle Systems Research Program
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Texas A&M University

Unless we take a revolutionary approach, the problems with vehicles will only get worse. By 2050, the number of vehicles is expected to increase by 5 times. In this presentation, Dr. Ehsani discusses new technology trends of the present and near future, leading to viable automobile and fuel technologies that are sustainable. He will also introduce an integrated approach to the automobile that focuses both on fuel production and vehicle power train technologies. The result is a new automobile and energy industry with the following properties: sustainable fuel supply into the indefinite future, higher efficiency, better performance, and no net carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. His presentation will conclude with comments about the technical realities versus the public’s perceptions of these issues.

About the speaker:

Dr. M. Ehsani has been a researcher, consultant, and educator in energy systems, power electronics, and automotive systems over the past 33 years. He is the author of over 300 publications, 12 books, 23 patents, and numerous published reports and articles on the above topics. He has also served as a consultant to over 60 companies and many government agencies around the world. He has been recognized on numerous occasions internationally for his technical contributions and has won many IEEE, SAE, government, and industrial awards and honors, such as the IEEE Vehicular Society 2001 Avant Garde Award for “Contributions to the theory and design of hybrid electric vehicles.” In 2003, he was selected for the IEEE Field Award for Undergraduate Teaching “For outstanding contributions to advanced curriculum development and teaching of power electronics and drives.” He is a Fellow of IEEE and a Fellow of SAE and has served in many leadership positions in both of these professional societies.

Shorthorn story, Nov. 23

AASHE overview for 2008

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, of which UT Arlington is a member, has issued its annual compendium of developments in campus sustainability. The 356-page volume provides an overview of sustainability efforts on hundreds of campuses, including UT Arlington.

AASHE Digest 2008 (pdf)

UT Austin carbon footprint project

UT Austin hired a contractor to perform the university’s first carbon footprint analysis. The results were published this spring.

Details

History professor calls for creating a Bicycle Commuters Association

John Garrigus, Associate Professor of History, is urging the university to create a Bicycle Commuters Association that would develop programs to promote students, faculty, and staff biking to campus.

Details

With interest in bike programs mounting, the Transportation Work Group has requested considerable funding in next year’s PSC budget for bike-related projects.