Better flow for cyclists thanks to link with ITS technology
Thanks to a link between advanced cycling radar and smart traffic control systems, cyclists in Utrecht (NL) can now ride faster and safer through green lights. In the pilot ‘Bicycle Peloton Recognition/ iTLC’ - a collaboration between the Utrecht mobility programme Goedopweg, Cycledata and Monotch - the functioning of the linked ITS technology is being tested and critically important ‘accurate’ bicycle data is being collected. The first tests are promising. In the future, bicycle radar units will be linked to intelligent Traffic Light Controllers at many more locations in the Netherlands so that road managers can better anticipate traffic situations.
Priority for bicycle pelotons
The pilot in Utrecht focuses on recognizing bicycle pelotons and being able to direct traffic flows. A bicycle measuring system, called Signum, recognizes approaching cyclists, measures the number of cyclists, the speed and the direction of travel and then forwards this information to an intelligent traffic light controller (iTLC) that can give priority to larger groups of cyclists. In the case of approaching bicycle pelotons, the traffic light can therefore switch to green sooner or remain green longer. The more vehicles are detected on the cycle path, the more priority the traffic light can give. Based on the number of vehicles on the cycle path, the bicycle traffic light can be activated and the flow of vehicles on the cycle path can be facilitated.
Testing advanced ITS technology
The ‘Bicycle Peloton Recognition/iTLC’ pilot uses Cycledata's Signum radar technology linked to Monotch's TLEX/UDAP data platform to realize communication between traffic lights and road users. The bicycle radar installed in front of the iTLC can detect vehicles on the cycle path with high accuracy, even during peak hours when large groups and various vehicles move at different speeds on cycle paths.
The detection data are then converted to CAM data (Cooperative Awareness Message) and linked to Monotch’ TLEX data platform. This platform, which is directly connected to the traffic light, can ultimately ensure that it gives priority to cycling pelotons. For example, the municipality of Utrecht can directly control traffic flows based on real-time, accurate data from road users.
Reliable bicycle data essential for policy making
As the bicycle is seen as the solution to growing congestion, climate problems and the scarcity of space in inner cities, the demand for reliable bicycle data is also increasing. In addition to stimulating the use of the bicycle, cities also face the task of increasing accessibility by creating, maintaining and expanding an optimal and safe bicycle path network. In order to take the right decisions for their cycling policy, they need reliable, accurate data about cycling behaviour and the cycling flows in their region.
Cycledata notices that governments are particularly interested in the use of bicycle paths during peak hours, when large groups of vehicles use the cycle path at different speeds. These are the moments when the risk of unsafe situations is greatest. With the Signum, Cycledata developed a contactless bicycle measuring system based on radar laser technology that collects high-quality actual data of vehicles on cycle paths. This is done with an accuracy of more than 95%, even during peak hours and without any application of algorithms. Cities such as Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam have been using similar bicycle radar systems for measurements during rush hour periods.
Direct management of traffic flows
Together with partners such as Monotch, Cycledata is working on innovative traffic applications that help to better anticipate traffic situations but also to contribute to safe cycle paths and stimulate bicycle use. Due to the high accuracy of the actual data – even on busy cycle paths in peak periods - municipalities gain more insight into the flows of cycling traffic. And that is essential if you want to create a link with an iTLC. Based on the right bicycle data, road managers can adjust their policy to prevent ‘bicycle congestion’, for example, but also to entice motorists – who see columns of cyclists passing by – to take the bicycle themselves next time.
"Thanks to the link with Monotch's TLEX platform and the expanded successor UDAP, our customers can now also directly control traffic flows with the collected data. That is an important added value for our Signum product and service to municipalities and provinces", says Cees van der Zijl of Cycledata. "We have already worked in many cities, including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, but the link with the iTLC is new to us. We can also use the experiences we gain in Utrecht in other cities in the Netherlands and beyond".