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Light Electric Vehicle Education and Research (LEVER) Institute

Published 10 March 2022

The LEVER Institute is a consortium of micromobility researchers and educators that includes faculty and staff from University of Tennessee, Portland State University, University of North Carolina, Queensland University of Technology, and Monash University. LEVER started in 2014 to bring together leading researchers in the field to answer some of the biggest questions about emerging micromobility vehicle systems. LEVER’s mission is to focus collectively on interdisciplinary research directed at micromobility adoption, system integration, societal impacts, and related policy. The University of Tennessee LEVER team includes Chris Cherry (CEE), Candace Brakewood (CEE), Paul Frymier (CBE), Daniel Costinett (EECS), David Bassett (Kinesiology), Gene Fitzhugh (Kinesiology), and Chad Autry (Supply Chain Management). They have focused on e-bike research since the early growth in Asia as well as recent technologies that enable more widespread access to micromobility vehicles through shared mobility systems. Some of their current projects focus on safety, sustainability, big data systems, and multimodal complementarity. A recent study by Dr. Cherry and his former student Hongtai Yang found that e-scooter riders compete heavily with traditional bikeshare. The paper was published in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice

The Micromobility Lab

UT’s micromobility lab is a workspace to develop hardware, software, and analytic tools to conduct education and research activities on micromobility systems. The lab includes a fleet of Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes, shared scooters, instrumentation and camera systems, and other hardware and software to support our research and education activities. The lab includes computing and data visualization capabilities to handle data streams that are being generated by micromobility systems.


CTR Facts & Stats

34 Active Research Projects

Sponsored by 10 Different Local, State, and Federal Agencies

$10 Million

Annual CTR Expenditures

165 CTR People

62 Staff
35 Fellows
33 Affiliated Faculty
35 Visiting Scholars

211 Workshop & Training Courses

Delivered to 4,519 Participants Across Tennessee, the US, and the World


How CTR Makes a Difference

CTR’s #Getconvinced teen program was awarded 1st place in class 2 at Engineer’s Day 2021. This program, which was started in 2015, promotes teen safety focusing on seatbelt use by letting teens ride the seatbelt convincer along with understanding the dangers of distracted driving using a pedal kart while wearing impaired goggles and navigating an obstacle course. Over 800 high school students were on campus October 19th to experience these activities. The #Getconvinced program has reached over 13,000 teens since its inception, helping them learn ways to navigate safely around large trucks. After riding the convincer, which safely simulates a low-speed crash, one teen remarked: “I couldn’t imagine being in a crash without a seat belt, even if it’s at only 5-10 mph.”

The Tennessee Travel Demand User’s Group (TNMUG) forum was established in January 2004 to exchange information about travel demand modeling and forecasting. The goal of the organization is to improve modeling and forecasting capabilities within the state. TNMUG is a collaboration between the universities, TDOT, FHWA, MPOs, consultants, and other interested parties. The modeling group promotes standard statewide guidelines and validation standards, helps coordinate systematic data collection and processing, organizes and promotes staff member training, and conducts research on selected areas of interest to the group. The members gather three or four times per year for one-day meetings that include extensive technical programs. TNMUG’s objective is to support travel demand modeling research and practices that can be undertaken in a comprehensive and coordinated fashion, resulting in advancing the state of modeling application in Tennessee.

ISSE’s East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition is geared toward outreach, education, and developing partnerships that help drive alternative fuels adoption by fleets in Tennessee and beyond. One of its programs, DRIVE Electric USA, is a $3.6M project that started in 2020, and it helps states across the country develop statewide, branded “Drive Electric” initiatives with subtasks such as fleet and utility engagement, developing major corridor and community charging plans, and educating state and local government officials. The EMPOWER Project, newly-funded by US DOE, will pull together partners in 30 states to develop a nationwide workplace charging initiative to educate and assist over 3,500 workplaces of different sizes and types and get them to install workplace charging for electric vehicles. 

Dr. Alex Rodrigues’ primary research interests lie in the theory-based empirical studies in supply chain management. He has developed quantitative research related to Global/National Logistics Expenditures estimations using neural networks and Global Supply Chain Management Performance Indexes using macroeconomic data. These efforts improve market intelligence, decision-making, and risk mitigation efforts for supply chain professionals. He has also contributed to qualitative research related to Global Logistics Strategy and Operations. The world has observed an increase in international trade and a strengthening of emerging markets, stressing the importance of Low-Cost Country Sourcing (LCCS) research in particular. 

Light-duty vehicles are responsible for roughly 40% of petroleum consumed and 17% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the U.S. each year. The CTR’s Fuel Economy Team partners with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop and maintain, a joint U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website aimed at helping vehicle owners improve their fuel economy. helps consumers choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets their needs by providing fuel EPA economy and greenhouse gas estimates for more than 44,000 new and used cars and trucks. 


Transportation News

A ‘Fair Fares’ Program So Exclusive, Barely Anyone Can Qualify For It cites research of Candace Brakewood, CEE assistant Professor.

CTR Fellow Richard Bennett Honored with Namesake Scholarship

Cherry Talks E-Bikes in Bloomberg City Lab

Two roundabouts coming to Knox County this spring, at the intersections of Brickyard Road at West Beaver Creek in Powell, and the Hardin Valley/Hickory Creek/East Gallaher Ferry interchange.

Upcoming Events

March 30-31, Keeping You and Your Agency Out of Court, Online TTAP Workshop

April 8, 2022, Detection and Advanced Operations, Traffic Signal Academy, Knoxville 

April 22, Traffic Signal Installation and Maintenance, Knoxville