Adaptive Reuse of Transportation Systems to Combat Food Deserts – The Loop
the grocery loop proposal for a better world by design 2010 challenge
A collaborative project by RISD Graduate Students
Erika Tarte email@example.com
Beth Weaver firstname.lastname@example.org
Lindsay Kinkade email@example.com
The Grocery Loop is an innovative design solution to the pressing social problem of limited access to healthy food. Built on the cost-effective and environmentally friendly model of adaptive reuse, The Grocery Loop is a public transportation system that provides access to nutrition, encourages community engagement, and promotes environmental sustainability.
Providence and many other cities are what Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign calls a “food desert” — a place in which access to affordable, quality, and nutritious foods is limited. Over 30,000 households in the city of Providence live without easy access to healthy food (living over one mile from a grocery store) and although this presents an opportunity to encourage non-vehicular transportation, such a solution neglects the physical and financial limitations of many Ocean State residents.
In a 2010 survey our group conducted of a cross-section of the current RIPTA ridership, interviews revealed widespread frustration with linear routes, the impracticality of riding multiple routes to visit multiple grocery stores, and the lack of proper amenities for transporting food on buses and at bus shelters. Riders favored looping routes, such as the existing Trolley, and expressed a desire for accurate schedules and comprehensive route maps.
The Grocery Loop integrates amenity-based bus lines into the existing Rhode Island public transportation system (RIPTA). These low-emission, hybrid diesel buses run in a continuous loop stopping at a diverse selection of stores — from farmers markets, to specialty shops, to large grocery stores. Both buses and bus shelters provide seating and storage that is optimized for transporting food. Real-time GPS tracking information is displayed to keep riders informed of arrivals and departures. Once riders are on The Grocery Loop, they know exactly where they’re going: to the grocery store.
kennedy plaza el rancho grande gr een loop red loop Whole foods
Attentive to the evolving needs of the ridership, The Grocery Loop’s routes are informed by rider feedback. The Grocery Loop buses and website give riders the opportunity to suggest routes and schedules that fit into their busy lifestyle. Additionally, The Grocery Loop website allows riders to share recipes, generate grocery lists, suggest and review grocery stores, and connect to their fellow riders through social networking services. To further accommodate rider needs, the website will be optimized for personal computer and mobile use.
The web and mobile component of The Grocery Loop is an incredible opportunity to connect Rhode Islanders to resources about health and nutrition. By creating an engaging online presence, The Grocery Loop aims to keep riders “in the loop” of healthful resources throughout Rhode Island.
This project has received the generous support of RISD with the award of a prestigious Graduate Studies Grant. The grant period has allowed for further design and development of The Grocery Loop’s website so that it will son include functional social networking components. Lindsay and Erika will also begin a public outreach campaign to generate community interest and to organize community support.
This ambitious project will require research, prototyping, and a pilot program. We are currently in the first stages; throughout the 2010–2011 academic year, we will focus of research, networking, and moving our project forward with political and commercial stakeholders. We will discuss the particular needs of store owners will be and we’ll find out how they will support the system through sponsorship and shared marketing.
This project started in a weekend workshop with Jake Barton, one of the creators of StoryCorps, and principal of Local Projects.