Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TIGER grant set to improve bus service in and around our nation's capital - USDOT Blog

I am at another IntelliDrive Workshop and helping define research topics that will define how vehicles communicate to the infrastructure and the applications that will be developed. There are several discussion items swirling around the future of the vehicle fleet and how transportation engineers will handle the new data. Our interest as a government agency is improving safety of travellers using information from vehicles.

One of the challenges of research is to get adoption of the new concept. There are so many good ideas that have been studied, but remain unimplemented because of technology transfer.

I believe that projects should have elements of research in them and this blog posting by USDOT made me think about how IntelliDrive could be rolled out. If the federal government tied funding to specific technology enhancements like this one (TIGER grant set to improve bus service in and around our nation's capital - Welcome to the FastLane: The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation) and built in research as a part of the grant, the agency might serve itself well by implementing best practice and eliminating the need for Tech Transfer to their specific agency. There would be a research component tied to the project and the funding for research would be less difficult to find. A downside is it could increase the time needed before implementation because research isn't always on a fast track.

Friday, December 3, 2010

NYC BIke Signal on 1st Ave

On the bicycle tour fo 1st Avenue, I came across intersections like this where the left turn is separated from the bicycle movement. In this case, both are red because the pedestrian (crossing movement) is active. In Portland, we have been exploring the use of a optically programmed bicycle signal, so that motorists can't see the bicycle signal is active.
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1st Avenue NYC

I was fortunate to visit New York City after a trip to DC for a FHWA Workshop. I met up with one of the bicycle planning staff that has implemented the 1st Avenue bicycle facility. The bicycle lanes were striped on the left hand side of the street to eliminate conflicts with buses. I was not initially enamored with the conflict of left turning traffic, but I found it more natural for a left turning vehicle to yield to the through bicycle traffic then the right turning traffic might otherwise. I could see a possible research problem statement forming for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the Transportation Research Board. One element that needs further study is the effectiveness of the green bike box with the person on a bicylce expected to make it across two or three lanes of through traffic. The conservative engineer makes me wonder if someone would weave over to the right hand side and have a conflict with traffic that has a green. Education of cyclists would be key to make this effective.
Signage is pretty good along the corridor since this is a rather new implementation. In this case, there was an exception for bikes at one of the mid block intersections that they closed down to reduce conflicts. In this case, they eliminated the access to vehicles, but left the path for cyclists and pedestrians to the local street. It encourages a little more mobility, actually reducing a conflict for motor vehicles (previously there was an occasional left turning vehicle).
The other treatment on this facility that was particularly innovative was the way they created green space within the median. In this case, they stripe the bicycle to yield to pedestrian and bicycle traffic within this median in order to allow an uncontrolled intersection. This is something we can use for the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail line intersections as opposed to signals that might otherwise result in needless delays.
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