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Columbus unveils three smart mobility pilots and seeks community participation

Smart mobility hubs, connected vehicles and the re-commissioned Linden LEAP aim to improve mobility and road safety as well as provide community food support.

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Smart mobility hubs offer first- and last-mile services
Smart mobility hubs offer first- and last-mile services

Columbus, Ohio, has announced three Smart Columbus projects that will pilot new mobility technology to serve the needs of the community.

 

Smart mobility hubs, connected vehicles, and the re-commissioned Linden LEAP seek to improve mobility, road safety, and community food support. The smart city organistion is also looking for volunteers to participate in the connected vehicle project.

 

Smart City Challenge winner

 

The projects are funded by the $40m grant awarded to Columbus, the winner of the 2016 by the US Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge. The pilots will run through March 2021.

 

“Columbus won the Smart City Challenge because we had the vision and ambition to try new mobility technologies in a neighbourhood to address the daily challenges residents face,” said Andrew Ginther, mayor of Columbus.

 

“Today, that vision comes to life. These mobility pilots in Linden will bring food to neighbours in need, connect residents to reliable and affordable mobility options, and help vehicles travel through the neighbourhood more safely.”

 

The three pilots in more detail:

 

Activation of smart mobility hubs to deliver first and last-mile solutions

Cleveland Avenue is home to the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT) line which provides faster and more frequent service to residents. However, getting to and from bus stops when it is too far to walk creates first mile/last mile challenges for many riders. While micro forms of transportation to address this issue exist, they are not centralised at convenient access points.

 

Smart mobility hubs have been created to aggregate multi-modal first mile/last mile solutions at accessible locations throughout the community to make travelling easier and more affordable. Mobility options at each hub are unique to that location and include different combinations of CoGo conventional and e-bikes, scooter parking and charging docks, EV charging, ride-hail pick/up drop off points, and dockless scooter, bike-, and car-share parking.

“Columbus won the Smart City Challenge because we had the vision and ambition to try new mobility technologies in a neighbourhood to address the daily challenges residents face”

Installation of connected vehicle technology that aims to improve road safety

Linden is home to seven of the 100 intersections that experience the highest volume of automobile crashes in central Ohio.

 

Smart Columbus is seeking 500 community volunteers interested in having connected vehicle technology installed in their personal vehicles. The equipment will provide real-time safety alerts intended to help drivers make more informed decisions while en-route to their destination.

 

The re-commissioned Linden Leap is being used to transport pre-packaged food boxes
The re-commissioned Linden Leap is being used to transport pre-packaged food boxes
CoGo conventional and e-bikes are one of the options available at the mobility hubs
CoGo conventional and e-bikes are one of the options available at the mobility hubs

The seven-month study is designed to understand the impact of the technology on driver safety. The study will look specifically at anonymous data collected from vehicles travelling along Cleveland Avenue between 2nd Avenue and Morse Road, High Street between 5th Avenue and Morse Road, and Morse Road between High Street and Stygler Ave.

 

Participants will be eligible for up to $315 in incentives for completing regular surveys about the programme. Volunteers must be over 18 and drive at least three times per week within the study corridor.

 

Re-launch of Linden LEAP to serve the surging need for food assistance

Since the coronavirus outbreak, St Stephens Community House in Linden has seen a spike in requests for food support. In April alone, its food pantry served 959 new households, a 461 per cent increase over the same time last year.

 

In partnership with Children’s Hunger Alliance and Seeds of Caring, St Stephens also provides pack lunches for children affected by the Covid school closings.

 

To assist with the critical distribution of food, the Linden LEAP, an all-electric self-driving shuttle, is being recommissioned to transport pre-packaged food boxes from St Stephen’s Food and Nutrition Centre to the Rosewind Community Centre.

“These mobility pilots in Linden will bring food to neighbours in need, connect residents to reliable and affordable mobility options, and help vehicles travel through the neighbourhood more safely”

A trained operator will be on board. However, no riders will be permitted due to coronavirus social distancing requirements. Families can meet the LEAP to receive a full box of food containing grains, meat, shelf-stable foods, fresh vegetables, fruit, and dairy.

 

Anyone in Franklin County is eligible for one box each week and can pick it up Monday through Friday between the hours of 12pm and 3pm. Free face coverings provided by the City of Columbus will also be offered.

 

Pilots will run through March 2021, with reporting published via the Smart Columbus website in May 2021.

 

Assessment of the programme will incorporate technical data as well as survey feedback provided by residents. Data captured by the pilots will be free of personally identifiable information and will be ingested into the Smart Columbus operating system to inform future smart city work locally and beyond.

 

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