whitney guenther

Civil engineering students showcased their final projects at an exhibit aimed at finding sustainable transportation methods at Cal Poly in hopes that the administration will consider their proposals for future implementation.

The exhibit that took place May 31 presented four teams’ projects from the CE 527, Sustainable Mobility, class.

“Hopefully what we’ve done today is going to actually be transformed into something that (Cal Poly Facilities Planning) will utilize to create a short-term bicycle and pedestrian program from the information we have gathered,” said class president Jennifer Donofrio at the event.

“We (Cal Poly) are not the best in the world (with sustainability), but we are not the worst either,” said Eugene Jud, the faculty adviser of the class. “But we can catch up, and we do a lot on this campus, and the administration is actually open to sustainable mobility.”

The class was meant to find alternative forms of transportation to and on campus, said Mary Phillips, a city and regional planning graduate student. She said that the class focused on utilizing bicycles as key forms of transportation.

“We basically (had) to come up with a plan to implement now and to impact the campus’ sustainable mobility in two years, which is nearly impossible because you can’t really push anything through right now and get it in two years,” said Brandon Stone, a civil engineering senior. “But that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Students researched other sustainable transportation methods to come up with their own proposals.

“The whole class looked at examples from other campuses to see what other schools did, and then we looked at the issues on our campus and tried to fix those,” Phillips said.

Brian Meichtry, a civil engineering senior, explained that the class was made up of guest lectures by industry professionals who helped them focus their efforts.

They also observed efforts at Avila Beach, Los Osos and the city of San Luis Obispo to find sustainable mobility strategies, Donofrio said.

“This is the way the future is headed, and so it will give us a one-up on the rest of the CSU (California State University) system if we can lead the other campuses,” Meichtry said.

Proposal ideas ranged from sign additions to more pedestrian and bicycle pathways throughout campus. One idea was for a new bicycle center on campus, which would include bicycle rentals, storage and repairs.

On Via Carta, one group proposed that bicycle lanes and pedestrian walkways switch places for easier access to buildings. Another group proposed to split the two lanes on Via Carta to avoid pedestrian and bicycle collisions.

Students kept budget within consideration as each group was allotted $500,000 for their solutions.

The class impacted the students, making them more aware of the need for sustainable transportation.

“It was a very positive experience,” Stone said. “I actually decided that I am going to give up my car after taking this class. I’m going to give it to my little brother.”

“It opened my mind to alternate modes and different alternatives to cars,” Meichtry added.

The class’ proposals will be looked into by the administration, and Jud said that he hopes this will help sustainability build momentum at Cal Poly.

Other students, faculty and community members attended the event and were invited to grade the students’ projects as part of the class evaluation process.

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