Green lights for groups of cyclists boost the cycling experience, traffic flow, and safety.
How ViNotion helped Hengelo to create the first bicycle peloton route.
The province of Overijssel and Hengelo municipality are conducting the very first trial with a so-called bicyclist peloton route at the junction of Rondweg and Bornsestraat at Plein Westermaat. People driving bikes in groups of three or more are given a green light at the intersection whenever possible. The purpose of this trial is to gain insight into the traffic flow and to increase cyclist safety and comfort. The pilot is also a way to test and improve the technology of smart cameras and Intelligent Traffic Light Control systems (ITLC).
Cyclists' contempt for red lights, poor traffic flow, and long lineups at traffic lights all contribute to dangerous situations.
The Dutch city of Hengelo faces traffic flow issues on the Borne-Hengelo N743 route. Often, crossings are heavily congested. Cyclists are plagued by long wait times for green lights. At the same time, those cyclists are triggering red lights for motorized vehicles on the main road. This causes not only annoying traffic jams and long waits at traffic lights, but also dangerous situations when cyclists who don’t want to wait choose to go through red lights anyway.
The province of Overijssel and the municipality of Hengelo are looking into the Bicyclists Peloton route to create a more attractive cycling experience and improve traffic flow. To this end, they are calling on the expertise and video image analysis technology of ViNotion. To create a bicycle peloton route, where groups of cyclists receive an automatic green light at the intersection whenever possible, they need an advanced data source that can provide highly accurate, real-time information about cyclists. Think numbers, densities, distances, speeds, estimated-Time-to-Arrival (ETA), and more. Few sensors can provide such in-depth, versatile data.
Enhance the existing traffic control systems with sensors and video analytics.
ViNotion worked with several partners to take on this project. To begin with, there was the technical challenge of linking our ViSense® cyclist monitoring sensors to the existing ITLC system on the Dutch UDAP platform. And then, we had to make sure cyclists would get detected in time for them to adjust their speeds to each other to form a two-by-two bicycle peloton route. By doing so, these groups of cyclists get the green light more often and for longer in comparison to individual cyclists. Together with the project partners, we set the stage for intelligent, dynamic green light intervals so cyclists could comfortably form a chain of bicycles and benefit from green light priority. This is how we went about it:
Situational analysis and sensor planning
Sweco engineering consulting has researched and tested what measures would encourage people to form a bicycle peloton in a timely manner. Considering the physical infrastructure, applicable regulations, and human behavior on the one hand, and our site-specific, technical analysis on the other hand, we designed a plan for sensor projection. Because cyclists often travel at different speeds, it usually takes them more time (and thus distance) to form a homogeneous group. Early detection, well before the junction, was therefore imperative. We placed camera sensors at the far end of the intersection (110 meters) so that approaching cyclists would be noticed at an early distance. The system extrapolates detection, position, and speed data to determine how long it takes for them to reach the cyclists’ stop line (ETA). In turn, augmented real-time data secures green wave traffic light activation at the right time to optimize bicycle flow at intersections.
Results of the Bicyclists' peloton trial
With the bicycle peloton route to and from Borne, Hengelo was able to improve traffic flow for both cyclists and motorized traffic on this route. The dynamic green light intervals helped improve coordination. Groups of cyclists do not have to brake, stop, or dismount as often as the bicyclists’ peloton. Traffic safety for cyclists increased as a result of better visibility, group formation, and clear signage. As green light times better match cyclists’ expectations, they are less inclined to run the red light. It certainly made for a more attractive, comfortable, and safe cycling experience.
Impact on the cycling experience
If you are cycling on the circular road (N743) from Borne to Hengelo or vice versa at Plein Westermaat, you will pass a green information sign announcing the start of the bicyclists’ peloton. From that point onwards, a total of five green information boards along the route indicate how and when the bicyclist peloton starts. The first sign makes you aware that after 80 meters you may form a bicycle peloton. A second sign follows, announcing the ‘click’ of the camera. The third sign on the route is the actual start signal of the bicycle peloton. Starting here, you continue to ride towards the traffic light together. The detection cameras will register your group, and at the next intersection, at entry 30 to the A1, you and your entire group will have that green light.
“In Overijssel, we strive for safe, sustainable, and smart mobility. This is well demonstrated in this innovative trial in Hengelo. In particular, in urban areas, things are getting busier and busier and speed differences on the cycle path are more likely to cause unsafe traffic situations and congestion. The Bicyclist peloton encourages cyclists to cycle at a suitable distance from each other. This leads to lower speed differences and better traffic flow.“
Boerman – member of the Provincial Executive of Overijssel.
What about privacy?
Any measurements taken during the trial are anonymous. Generic data is used to verify that the bicyclists peloton is performing as expected. Real time camera images are immediately anonymized and converted into data for the traffic light controller. No Images or personal data are stored. (Meta)data and measurements are shared with the agencies conducting the study only. The conclusions from the research will be published.
Alderman Gerard Gerrits Source: Hengelo.nl
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