Civil engineering Ph.D. student earns top poster award at ITE regional event

Anahita Zahertar presenting her poster at the ITE Great Lakes District meeting.

Anahita Zahertar, a distinguished Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University, was awarded first place in the student poster competition at the Great Lakes District meeting of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Zahertar's research focuses on the integration of bikeshare and transit systems in Detroit, a pivotal step toward equitable transportation solutions for the city.

Zahertar's project, titled "Enhancing Transportation Connectivity and Equity Through Bikeshare Integration," is based on a project that was led by MoGo, the bikeshare system serving Metro Detroit. This project, launched in 2021 and funded by the Better Bicycle Partnership, aimed to explore synergies between bikeshare and traditional transit systems. The collaboration includes contributions from the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), Wayne State and the City of Detroit's Office of Mobility Innovation (OMI).

Wayne State’s effort was led by Anahita’s advisor, Steven Lavrenz, Ph.D., and involved the analysis of data from MoGo surveys to transit and bikeshare users across Metro Detroit, with an overarching goal of better understand transportation access for marginalized communities in the region. The project emphasizes the importance of developing a sustainable and fair transportation system that benefits all Detroit residents, ensuring access to reliable, efficient and affordable mobility options.

"Our comprehensive research provides key insights into user satisfaction, paving the way for strategic improvements in transportation connectivity and equity," said Zahertar, who has received five academic awards in her time at Wayne State, including the ITE Michigan Section Achievement Scholarship in 2022 and the Helene M. Overly Memorial Transportation Achievement Scholarship earlier this year from the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) Michigan Chapter.

Zahertar's work addresses critical mobility issues in Detroit, highlighting the significance of integrating various modes of transit to create a cohesive network. The findings from this project are expected to inform future transportation planning and policy decisions, ultimately leading to a more inclusive and accessible system for the city's diverse population.

“This recognition from ITE underscores the importance of Anahita’s research and its potential impact on urban transportation planning,” said Lavrenz. “As cities across the country seek to improve mobility and reduce transportation disparities, her work serves as a model for innovative and equitable solutions.”


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