Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pedestrian Scramble Debate in Canada

I picked this up off the ITE E-Newsletter Vancouver Sees Future in 'Scramble' Intersections, Toronto Sees Congestion
 Reassessing the Pedestrian Scramble
News Articles: National Post
Two news articles describe ongoing efforts to institute "pedestrian scramble" intersections (often known as Barnes Dances) in Canada and the US at the same time existing "pedestrian scramble" applications are being removed. The effects on pedestrian-vehicle conflicts and on pedestrian and vehicle throughput are presented.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras - Texas Statewide Evaluation

Great article in Dec '11 ITE Journal  by  researchers on Effectiveness of Red Light Cameras 

Offering a New Transportation Engineering Perspective on Cycling Facilities: A Response to John Forester's Letter in ITE Journal

To the Editor:

In John Forester’s letter to the editor critiquing “Physically Separated Bikeways: A Game Changer for Bicycle Mode Split” (vol. 81, no. 4), he takes credit, as he has elsewhere[i], for alerting the engineering community to the supposed danger of bikeways that are physically separated from adjacent traffic. His objection is based primarily on his advocacy for a style of bicycling effective under what most people consider the worst of conditions: a roadway shared by bicycles and high volumes of fast motor vehicles. So-called “vehicular cycling”—essentially operating a bicycle as if it were a motor vehicle—allows the small minority of people willing to operate in such environments a safe way to ride. While Forester deserves credit for developing such a style, better alternatives are now and have long been available.

There is a growing consensus among transportation professionals and decision makers that direct their work that it is the diametrically opposite of Forester’s antiseparation doctrine that results in increasing numbers of people bicycling. Creating as much separation as possible between people riding bicycles from high volumes of motor vehicle traffic improves the safety and comfort of all road users. There is substantial and growing evidence to support these views based on the recent experiences with cycle tracks in Montreal, Canada, Portland, OR, New York, Long Beach, CA, and Washington, DC that are not merely anecdotal, but are being confirmed by emerging research. A 2010 study of Montreal’s bikeways found, not surprisingly, that they were significantly safer than riding in mixed traffic, as well as enormously popular[ii]. New York City reports similar results. Research suggests that the cycle tracks in Portland, OR increased cyclist perceptions of safety (particularly those of women)[iii], a necessary step toward expanding the use of bicycles across a broader cross-section of society. Of course, European cities have long known about these benefits of cycle tracks and comparative research has shown that European countries with cycle tracks had far lower bicycling fatality rates than America[iv].

Unfortunately, Forester’s statements reflect more a personal philosophy about the appropriate relationship of bicycling to driving than they do a reasoned understanding of current research and emerging trends. Stating that “[bicyclists] acting subservient to motorists” is an “indignity”, phrasing such as “cyclist-inferiority cycling” and discussion about how people riding bicycles are “disenfranchised” from riding on the public roadways by cycle tracks, are about as relevant to this discussion as is the 35-year old study Forester cites as the basis for his critique. He was also opposed to building rail-trails in the 1980s and 1990s for these same reasons, which have proven to be groundless.

The fact is that transportation policies are advancing to support increased bicycle transportation; a growing number of jurisdictions and the professionals that serve them are finding ways to accommodate that desired growth and are achieving success in doing so. With better alternatives now available, willingly planned for and successfully implemented in cities across the country, relying on vehicular cycling—and thus relegating bicycling to only those few willing to ride in such environments—would represent a failure both of policy and engineering. The growing movement to create cycle tracks in American cities is being facilitated by the engineering community’s recognition that separated bikeways can be safe, convenient, and attractive. The 2010 publication of the Bikeway Design Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials offers the first national guidance on separated bikeways such as cycle tracks. We hope that many other positive steps follow.


Robert Burchfield, P.E., City Traffic Engineer, Portland, OR
Susan Clippinger, Director, Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department, City of Cambridge, MA
Michael Gardner-Sweeney, Traffic Engineer for the City of Boulder, CO
Brian Kemper, P.E., Acting City Traffic Engineer & Signal Operations Manager, Seattle Department of Transportation
Peter Koonce, P.E., Manager, Signals and Street Lighting Section, Bureau of Transportation, PortlandOR
Dennis Leach, Director of Transportation, Arlington County, VA
Andy Lutz, P.E., Chief Engineer, City of Indianapolis, IN
Susanne Rasmussen, Community Development Department, Environment and Transportation Planning Division, City of Cambridge, MA
Bridget Smith, P.E., Deputy Director, Livable Streets, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
Wayne Wentz, P.E., Director Transportation Engineering, Arlington County, VA
John Yonan, P.E., Deputy Commissioner/Chief Engineer, Chicago Department of Transportation, Division of Engineering
Paul Zykofsky, AICP, Associate Director, Local Government Commission, Sacramento, CA
Mia Birk, President, Alta Planning + Design
John LaPlante, P.E., PTOE, Director of Traffic Engineering, T.Y. Lin International
Rock Miller, P.E., Principal, Stantec Consulting
David Parisi, P.E., Parisi & Associates
Jamie Parks, AICP, Kittelson & Associates
Todd A. Peterson, P.E., PTOE, Senior Transportation Engineer, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Matthew  Ridgway, AICP, PTP, Principal, Fehr & Peers
William Schultheiss, P.E., Senior Engineer, Toole Design Group
Andy Clarke, President, League of American Bicyclists
Dan Burden, Executive Director, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute
Keith Laughlin, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Barbara McCann, Executive Director, Complete Streets Coalition
Randy Neufeld, SRAM Cycling Fund
Gil Penalosa, MBA, Executive Director, 8-80s Cities
Jennifer Dill, Professor, Portland State University, Portland, OR
Peter Furth, Professor, Northeastern University
Ian Lockwood, P.E., Loeb Fellow, Harvard University
Chris Monsere, P.E. Professor, Portland State University, Portland, OR
John Pucher, Professor, Rutgers University
Roger Geller, Bicycle Coordinator, Portland, OR
Zaki Mustafa, Chief of Field Operations, City of Los Angeles, CA

[i] Forester, J., 2001. “The bikeway controversy.” Transportation Quarterly 55(2): 7-17.
[ii] Lusk, A.C., P.G. Furth, et al. 2011. “Risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street.Injury Prevention 17: 131-135.
[iii] Monsere, C., N. McNeil, J. Dill. “Multi-User Perspectives on Separated, On-Street Bicycle Infrastructure” Paper 12-1753, Accepted for presentation at the 9th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, 2012.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cycling at Christmas

Why not remind the kids of the fun you can have on your bicycle with toys. I bought these Playmobile bicycles and even a traffic safety kit for the kids this year. This could be a good encouragement program for the new year!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 9, 2011

2012 Transportation Research Board Meeting Schedule

This year's Transportation Research Board meeting promises to be as busy as ever. I have gotten myself involved in five separate activities over the Conference and continue to serve on two separate Committees. This blog post is a bit of a record keeping one, so I apologize if you've happened upon this and are reading it. If you are planning to be at TRB this year, come visit me at one of these sessions.

Building Modern Urban Bikeways: National Association of City Transportation Officials' Guide and National Experience
Event Date:Jan 22 2012 9:00AM- 4:30PM

A nice intro to the Urban Bikeway Design Guide was featured in the American Society of Landscape Architects Blog "The Dirt"

Overview of National Association of City Transportation Officials' Urban Bikeway Design Guide (P12-6095) 
     Maddox, Heath - San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency 
     Sebastian, Jim - District of Columbia Department of Transportation 
     Koonce, Peter J .V. - City of Portland, Oregon 

 Implementation and Case Studies of Innovative Bicycle Facilities (P12-6099) 
     Dill, Jennifer - Portland State University 
     Koonce, Peter J .V. - City of Portland, Oregon 
     Maddox, Heath - San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency 
     Sebastian, Jim - District of Columbia Department of Transportation 
     Freedman, Nicole - Boston Transportation Department 
     Seiderman, Cara - City of Cambridge, Massachusetts 

There's two presentations in one workshop on the NACTO Bikeway Design Guide. Those presentations will have some elements from this previous presentation I gave at Portland State's Friday Seminar in March. 

Then there are the three papers that I helped edit and contributed towards and these included the following:

  Barrier-Free Ring Structures and Pedestrian Overlaps in Signalized Intersection Control (12-2141) - C13 
     Furth, Peter G. - Northeastern University 
     Muller, Theo H.J. - Delft University of Technology, Netherlands 
     Salomons, Maria - Delft University of Technology, Netherlands 
     Bertulis, Tomas - Northeastern University 
     Koonce, Peter J .V. - City of Portland, Oregon 

Preliminary Development of Methods to Automatically Gather Bicycle Counts and Pedestrian Delay at Signalized Intersections (12-2107) 
     Kothuri, Sirisha Murthy - Portland State University 
     Reynolds, Titus - City of Portland, Oregon 
     Monsere, Christopher M. - Portland State University 
     Koonce, Peter J .V. - City of Portland, Oregon 

A Framework for Multimodal Arterial Data Archiving (12-1750) 
     Monsere, Christopher M. - Portland State University 
     Olson, Carl - Portland State University 
     Kothuri, Sirisha Murthy - Portland State University 
     Tufte, Kristin A. - Portland State University 
     Koonce, Peter J .V. - City of Portland, Oregon 

I remain active on the Traffic Signal Systems Committee and Bus Transit Systems, so I will be at those meetings as well. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Transportation Planning Rule Every City Should Reform

The Transportation Planning Rule Every City Should Reform

In the Portland Central City Transportation Management Plan, LOS is not used, but rather a vague requirement that intersection volume to capacity ratio is the measure that will be used. It offers the ability for v/c ratios that allow congestion at peak periods of the day. This has allowed tremendous flexibility for making decisions that follow policy as opposed to a letter grade. It has resulted in improvements that are leading the City towards its mode split targets.

Portland Bicycle Signals

Google alerts is a pretty great at highlighting new activities on the internet. I got a request based on the City of Eugene posting the following press release about their first ever bicycle signal.

I have been keeping track of the various bicycle signals we have whether they have the stencil or are merely exclusive bicycle signals and coded them in Google maps (you can follow the link below. There are a few that are in various stages of design/planning associated with some of the capital projects that the City is involved in that are color coded as described in the google map.

View Portland's Bicycle Signals in a larger map

Monday, November 28, 2011

Barriers to Sustainable Transportation

Googling this title brings up the following from the University of Michigan

Making transportation more sustainable at the operations level has certain benefits. However, usually operations-level improvements are targeted at making vehicle traffic more efficient - reducing delay and congestion and improving travel times.  It can be argued that an operations approach to sustainability is only treating the symptoms, but not the cause.  Causal strategies to effect mode choice, shorten trips, or eliminate vehicle trips altogether requires solutions that address land use and development.  There are a number of strategies and tools that are available to planners and designers to improve transportation sustainability at the development level.  This presentation will look at these tools and categorize the good, better and best practices.

Then there is this older document on TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORTATION which would be good to use for this Information Report of the Institute of Transportation Engineers that I am reviewing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles Dynamic Sign

The City of Portland installed a dynamic warning sign at NE Grand and Couch in Portland during the past week. The intent was to clarify the traffic control at the intersection and to warn motorists of an approaching cyclist.
Inductive loop detection is located upstream from the traffic signal by 200 feet. We have second  detector in the bike lane approximately 60 feet downstream is used to identify and confirm that all people on bicycles are approaching the signal.

The active sign is behind the no turn on red sign and the advance ctop here on red sign.

50' from the intersection you can see the bike box and the active warning sign. The arrow in the bike lane advances.
A close up of the sign shows the information. This is the same message as the MUTCD sign with the exception of the bike lane and the bicycle (the MUTCD sign is only for pedestrians). The sign is the same size as the signal head (3' x 3')

Safety at Signalized Intersection with Permitted Left Turns; Another One Way vs. Two Way Debate Item

I got a call today from a colleague who was working for Vancouver BC. They were doing research on safety of pedestrian and bicycle travel and one of the things that BC has experienced is a higher crash rate of pedestrians and left turns than cities such as Portland.
There other peer cities were Toronto, Calgary, Seattle, and San Francisco.

The answer to this was easy for me. Downtown Vancouver BC has quite a few two way streets (one is shown in the picture to the left) which results in permissive operations. When operating a motor vehicle and navigating across two lanes of approaching traffic and pedestrians from both directions on the crossings it is difficult to gauge the relative safety of accepting a gap. This is also confounded when we throw people on bicycles into this where vehicles may not see the oncoming person (low light visibility, etc).

Which brings me back to a post I had on twitter awhile back, with some research that supported this perspective. It read as follows:

"It was clear from the results that converting from protected phasing to FYA operation (third scenario) leads to a dramatic increase in left-turn crashes"

The research suggests increasing the yellow and all red times at the intersections (not a good idea in my opinion), but also states the following:

Specifically, the analysis indicated a statistically significant reduction (at the 0.05 level) in 34 total crashes as a result of (1) increasing the all red phase only and (2) increasing the total change interval to be less than the ITE recommended practice. Injury crashes were significantly reduced as a result of increasing the total change interval to be less than the ITE recommended
practice. Rear-end crashes were significantly reduced as a result of increasing the total change interval to be greater than the ITE recommended practice. The change in angle crashes was statistically insignificant under all scenarios investigated.
Table 6.3 also has the caveat that " The sample of sites used in this evaluation is limited. So these results should be used with due caution."
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 18, 2011

Traffic Signals and Their Role in Congestion and Placemaking

Great couple of posts on Traffic Signals, yet the perspecptives on signal timing are about more than 10 years old from the Portland viewpoint. We've had transit priority since 1999 and the signals never leave coordination. LRT preemption isn't terribly novel and the staff in Portland are continuing to work with our software vendors on ways to make it more effective.

The article that inspired this are here:
Fighting Congestion in Minneapolis on a Tight Budget
It's not about fighting congestion, it's about taking a look at the policy and determining the best solution given the desired outcomes. Do you want people to take bus, should transit be a competitive mode, if so, manage congestion, don't fight it is a philosophy that has been employed in Portland.

Can Traffic Signals Ease Congestion Without Discouraging Walking?

Yes, Downtown Portland is the perfect example of this, we progress traffic in one direction on our one way street grid and pedestrians in the opposite direction. Does everyone know this? No, but at least we're trying to make it so that half of the time when you're walking downtown you're delayed less than you would be otherwise. We also limit delays to pedestrians by keeping the cycle lengths low, which with short blocks (260' in downtown) is important to reduce the amount of gridlock (traffic queues spilling back between intersections) that occurs during the peak traffic hours. Portland doesn't accomplish this during the typical weekday, but that is life in the big city.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leading Bicycle Interval at Amsterdam Traffic SIgnal

In Amsterdam, they remove the bike car conflict by providing a leading bicycle interval, exactly how we do with pedestrians in the U.S.
Posted by Picasa

Bike Box with a Uitgezonderd

Kate Petak, the Signals intern asked me for some pictures of unique intersection techniques and with a quick review came across this one from Amsterdam.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 11, 2011

Making an Interchange Safer

Here's the problem statement for this week and next (sent in from a citizen that knows how to get a bureaucrat's attention using a nice bit of technology):

We're working toward making changes that address the signal timing to be more intuitive for all modes, but the geometry of the intersection presents some signficant challenges.

SW Moody Nearside Bike Signal

Bicycle scale traffic signal indications have been implemented in Portland. We purchased 4" signal heads from Gesig, a company in Austria that we were able to contact and make arrangements to procure the equipment.  That was a significant obstacle because of the small quantity order, the lack of a local distributor, and the Euro-US financial transaction (IRS forms, etc). 

The supplemental 4" signal head will be placed on the nearside pole shown above (there is also some ornamental canopy treatments on the pole) to provide a nearside installation that is consistent with the scale that a person on the bicycle needs to get an indication that doesn't blind them with the brightness of an automobile signal. The nearside indication is simply a supplemental head, supporting the 8" indication that is farside of the intersection. The initial installation shown in this picture (this was taken before the signal was turned on)  shows 12" heads that are standard, but  the contractor and the distributor of the equipment they were working with failed to read the plans correctly. author Jonathon Maus has a really nice video on opening day. If you watch the video, this was developed prior to the turnon of the signal at SW Moody and Gibbs.

We modified a signal to the north of this location at SW Sheridan and SW Moody and added a diagonal bicycle crossing complete with green striping that indicates that the crossing is for bicycles in a diagonal direction. I especially like in the video at 2:20 the flagger conversation. 

Updated with another blog post from
It goes like this:
Flagger: Got something new here for you, it's a pressure point, that light will turn green for you"
BikePortland: Bike only, ok, very cool

And at 3:03
Flagger 2: Go Green light, just for you!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Street Lighting Efficiencies in LA

Street lighting efficiencies are something that is consistent with the City's values.

I got copied on this video that's worth sharing. There's no mention of climate change, but they do hit on Carbon. Important to watch how folks are messaging on this topic.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Traffic Engineers Dismissing Cycletracks

I am working on a response to this letter to the Editor posted in the October 2011 ITE Journal. This article doesn't help improve the perspective that engineers just want to move cars. To place all Amercian cities (or more to the point, streets) in the same class of homogeneous urban places is damaging. The new millennium has resulted in increased awareness that reducing trip distances is as important an initiative as any that a transportation professional should be engaged in to insure the sustainability of our communities and the vitality of our urban areas. These efforts are placing increasing importance on cycling trips where relatively short trips reduce the need for speed and make accessibility a priority.

Posted by Picasa
UPDATE: linked to this debate between Pucher and Forester that is worth considering.

NYC Mixing Zone for Cycletrack

There is interest in exploring cycletrack opportunities where we have excess road capacity in Portland. There aren't many locations where this is easy to do persay, but jumping off from Ronald Tamse's (Dutch Engineer) recent presentation, it's not a very far leap to find the right spots where there's space available. 

In order to transition back from a cycletrack into a spot where capacity is constrained takes care. You can maintain adequate capacity when making the transition if the signal timing is combined with geometric design elements like we produced on NE 12th Avenue. To this end, I think New York City is onto something for making a cycletrack work well at intersections. They take care to produce a "Mixing zone" at right turn opportunities that blend the facility in with the traffic. The diagram on the right isn't for the heaviest right turn traffic, but it seems to offer promise for retaining the auto capacity while providing opportunities for finding the right match. 

The research conducted by Portland State University about our SW Broadway cycletrack suggests that its an application that will work well in places where we have few conflicts with driveways. I first saw the Mixing Zone during a visit back in November 2010 and it seemed to work exceptionally well and I felt extremely comfortable when cycling in the cycletrack. It also eliminates the need for a specific phase for people on bikes, so you end up with a traffic engineering win-win. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2011

Traffic Signal Detection Confirmation Lights for Bicycles in the Netherlands (Delft)

I have often said that the Dutch have figured out most of our traffic signal design challenges. It's not that they are smarter than us, it is just that they come from the perspective of the cyclist. Meeting with Ronald Tamse this past week confirmed that. A video of his presentation is here.

There is a question that was recently highlighted on the Institute of Transportation Engineers' listserv, and on the same day I got an email asking about this, so rather than write this once and copy & paste, I figured by posting it here, google might pick it up and it can be part of the FAQ.  Here's the post.

In the summer trip to the Netherlands, I came across the following intersection confirmation indication for being detected as a person on a bicycle. The push button would also turn on a light that showed that you had been detected.

In Portland, we're planning to complete an installation where the detection from the loops is connected to the button and specifically the LED in the push button that offers confirmation. The downside of this configuration is that you will see a longer amount of time in the controller Walk & Flashing Don't Walk, then just the minimum green plus actuated time if you wired it separately.

UPDATED: October 31, 2011...

From: Vendor (email me if you want details)
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 1:56 PM
To: City of Portland
It is possible to light the LED on the Polara Bulldog buttons if you have the following equipment and wire everything accordingly.
#1           You would need to use the Latching Bulldog Control unit (PBCU) with BDL-3 pushbuttons.
#2           You then need to wire the output of the Bicycle detection loop amplifier in parallel to where the Pedestrian push button land in the controller cabinet.
#3           you would also need a 180 ohm resistor wired in series with the Detector loop amplifier output.

Please call if you have any questions.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Running Red Lights on Your Bicycle

Compliance at this signal is easy because the cycle length is very short.
UPDATED: October 28, 2011 - I had a similar experience (see video below from Joseph Rose) with a person on a bike this week as I was riding down SW Broadway southbound from the City Maintenance Shop to the Portland Building. The signal in question follows most of the signal timing principles in the Dutch CROW Manual (traffic is progressed slowly on the street, the cycle length is short, etc). Yet, the person in front of me decided to start about four seconds before the green expired on the side street. I can appreciate the argument that when the traffic signal makes me wait for more than a minute than it either

  • a) isn't detecting me, or 
  • b) isn't meant or designed for me and the person chooses to run the red. 

I can accept poor compliance where either of these cases are the norm. I didn't always obey signals before I became the manager of the traffic signals in Portland. Yet when we're making the signals work for bikes and the signals are changing so promptly... as an experienced cyclist, hopefully you are aware of this, and if you know it doesn't cost you much time to comply with the signal, please do. It's a good opportunity to move acceptance in the public forward, making it look like something any normal law abiding citizen would. do.

The blog post by Joseph Rose has a number of interesting comments and BikePortland posted about it too.

The problem with poor compliance is that I believe it may hold acceptance of bike infrastructure back in terms of acceptance at the national level. If I measure a bicycle compliance rate significantly lower than a motor vehicle, will that result in less acceptance by transportation engineers. I can sympathize with Mia Birk's perspective on stop signs, but I don't feel as comfortable with the same concept with traffic signals. It could be something I am too close to, but having worked with the Police surrounding safety and enforcement issues, it seems like improving compliance would lead to greater legitimacy throughout the community.

ORIGINAL POST: I am going to need some time to think about this before I write anything about it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Meaning of the Flashing Don't Walk at Traffic Signals - Pedestrian Countdown Timer Model Ordinance from Salt Lake City

What does it mean? It's all French to me. 

At the Workshop on Pedestrian Safety at Midblock Crossings I learned about the following ordinance of Salt Lake City, which was an idea I had that I think represents a better representation of what the Flashing Don't Walk means with the Countdown timers. 
Here's the complete section from their Code.
SECTION 20.  That Section 12.32.050, Salt Lake City Code, pertaining to pedestrian “walk” and “don’t walk” signals be, and the same hereby is, repealed.
            SECTION 21.  That Section 12.32.055, pertaining to pedestrian signal indications, be, and is hereby enacted to read as follows:
12.32.055 Pedestrian Signal Indications.
Whenever a pedestrian signal is in place and operating, the illuminated words or symbols shall indicate and govern pedestrians as follows:
A.            A steady white WALK or WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) signal indication means that, exercising due caution, a pedestrian facing the signal indication may start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication.
B.            A flashing orange DONT WALK or UPRAISED HAND (symbolizing DONT WALK) signal indication means that a pedestrian shall not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication, but that any pedestrian who has already started to cross on a steady white WALK or WALKING PERSON (symbolizing WALK) signal indication may complete crossing the roadway.
C.            A steady orange DONT WALK or UPRAISED HAND (symbolizing DONT WALK) signal indication means that a pedestrian shall not enter the roadway in the direction of the signal indication.
                D.  A COUNTDOWN CLOCK (displaying time in seconds remaining in the pedestrian crossing phase) in conjunction with the flashing orange UPRAISED HAND means that a pedestrian facing the signal indication may start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal indication, but only if such pedestrian is able to safely walk completely across the street or to a safety island before the COUNTDOWN CLOCK shows no remaining time.
Today, I am in suburban Washington DC at the Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center discussing Countermeasures at Urban and Suburban Midblock Crossing Locations. The primary focus of this research is to determine the location of Rapid Flash Beacons and other such devices to improve pedestrian safety. It is a national panel of nearly 25 people discussing opportunities to improve public safety and focus on these measures. The panel includes FHWA researchers, agency practitioners, and even public health advocates, so it is an interesting cross section and I look forward to bringing information back to the City on this.

This sort of treatment at intersections  has reduced crashes in the past ten years

At SE 80th & Foster Road we added a Rapid Flash Beacon, this is the sort of research that's being studied by FHWA's Research Team. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pedestrian Scramble aka Barnes Dance

The posting of transportation videos on YouTube is something that will make future engineers more innovative. Here's a great summary from DDOT and Wasim Raja, a colleague that I worked with (when he was with Arlington County, VA) in my previous endeavors.

This reminded me of the scramble I saw in Tokyo at the Shibuya District.

Transportation Research Board Paper Acceptance

Sirisha Kothuri, one of the City of Portland's interns over the summer wrote up a paper describing our work to use existing signal controllers to measure delay at traffic signalized intersections. While we were at it we figured out we could collect bicycle counts as well at select locations. Well, I am proud to announce that the paper: "Preliminary Development of Methods to Automatically Gather Bicycle Counts and Pedestrian Delay at Signalized Intersections" was accepted for the 2012 Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting. The authors include Sirisha Kothuri, Titus Reyonlds, Christopher Monsere, and Peter Koonce.

I am sure it will be posted at some point and I will update the post when I find it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pas Pa Blinde Vinkler: Watch the Blind Spot

Looking for a few examples of a Watch the Blind Spot Caution sign and came across the following on the Google machine today.....

Danish Description with nice graphic
Anti-Dooring Campaign
Campaign for Blind Spot awareness.

12th Avenue Overcrossing on Mayor's Blog

By taking the time to understand the situation on the ground, the project team crafted a proposal that balances a variety of functional demands and results in an all-around improved situation for trucks, autos, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Mayor Adams weighed in on the project, saying, “This is the type of project I expect to see more of in Portland. We identified areas that needed improvement, tested the proposed changes, used fact-based analyses to make improvements, and came up with a solution that works better for trucks, helps out two important manufacturing companies in the city, and makes the street safer for bicyclists and pedestrians going to school.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Roads Going High Tech... and Bicycle Lanes Too

Today's blog from the Secretary of Transportation describes roads going high tech. At yesterdays, TransPort meeting (the Intelligent Transportation Systems Subcomittee of Metro's TPAC) we learned about how the Oregon DOT is going to implement some queue warning signs and additional technology to highlight where highway traffic is stopped and to reduce the speed limit accordingly. It's an exciting development for improving safety and improving our highways (specifically Highway 217 and ) as we seek to do more with our existing infrastructure. This specifically should reduce the potential of wasting capacity that can be restored if motorists are aware of the change. One can debate the extent of the improvements, but putting information in the hands of engineers can yield societal benefits. 

Not to be outdone, we're working to pull together information on bike lanes in a similar fashion. The link below shares where the map is and the progress on where we're counting and monitoring use of the system.

UPDATED: I recieved a comment about how we're detecting bikes and that's found here:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Portland enters day 6; city pulls plug on power

A new role for the Electricians at the City of Portland. Occupy Portland enters day 6; city pulls plug on power

New York City Bike Lane and Mixing Zone (Left Turn)

The following photos show the striping for the left side bike lane where there is on-street parking that is removed to make room for an exclusive left turn lane. To maintain as much parking as possible the amount of length for the left turn lane is kept to a minimum. The vehicles are presented with the teeth to indicate yield on entry. The green bike lane marking is dropped at this same point to indicate shared space with the traffic and sharrows are used in this space.

The second photos shows the Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicycles sign, which is in the MUTCD specifically for pedestrians, but it makes sense to call out bicycle traffic at this location because you have a left turn lane that conflicts with the left side bike lane.

The farside of the intersection is where I think NYC has offered the greatest innovation. The provision of the curbing for a pedestrian refuge presents an opportunity for yielding between the person on a bicycle and reducing the amount of time (potentially) that is necessary for the pedestrian clearance. To reduce the total time for the intersection, you'd have to do something on the nearside.

Posted by Picasa

Bike Box from the Left

I am reviewing a few photos in preparation for my volunteer teaching assignment at the initiative for bicycle & pedestrian innovation at Portland State University. New York City staff rolled out the red carpet during my visit, getting me a bike to use and providing a nice amount of time to show me some of their newest facilities.

NYC uses green more than Portland does, in this case a significant length of the bike lane on the left hand side has green thermoplastic.

In most cases, they have an exclusive turn lane adjacent to the bike lane. Here they have a separate lane, one on of the design treatments NYC has implemented in the U.S. first is a mixing zone for the turn lane, which I will add to another post.

They added the bicycle signals on the poles and moved the left turn signals adjacent to that signal head on an extension arm. There has been some debate within my colleagues about whether it is desirable to have the vehicle see the bicycle indication. The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices has discussed whether Red, Yellow, and Green is appropriate for a bicycle indication. That seems like an odd question given the extensive application in Europe and the compliance they have had. Granted the U.S. is different, but we'll continue to debate that in the coming years.
One of the specific treatments that has received negative feedback is the green across multiple lanes as shown in the third photo. There's some concern about how the green will be interpreted by a cyclist making that transition and whether they may be caught making that movement when the signal turns green, thus creating a potential conflict. It seems that is already an issue with pedestrians, but research is necessary for that.

One last photo of the corridor and the range of signals and how that's a bit confusing to look to the next signal and see the indications for the downstream movements as well as the intersection with the closest vicinity.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 22 Concluding Thoughts

There was a lot of good that came of the Bicycle Commute Challenge. The weather was very nice, that's one good thing. It was fun blogging about the events and I thought I was doing a lot until I read about the Co-Captains of the year....

Here's some great inspiration for next year.

1. Starting with a bang: first day ride in for the entire Sales team.
The Sales team ride in started the Bike Commute Challenge off in a strong way. Derwyn coordinated the route, which allowed each Sales Team member to join up where convenient. Pit stop included a pickup at Voodoo Donuts for the office. They all arrived to the office in a flying ‘V’ formation, much to the excitement to the rest of the Jama team.
2. Photo contest: building buzz for biking.
As motivation, Derwyn and Frank encouraged us to take photos during our rides and share them with the office. They asked us for photos of: “a live bird, any bridge, something that made you smile, a pet peeve, a Jama shirt being held or worn by someone else, and a bonus for a single photo with all of the items!”
3. Motivational masters that we could always count on.
Derwyn gave Jason new bike tires when he needed some. When he realized the wheel had the wrong gear settings, Derwyn told Jason to drop his bike off at his house. He replaced the gear cassette on the new wheel. Both Frank and Derwyn replaced flats, offered loaner bikes and picked up anyone who didn’t want to ride in alone.
4. Fun and friendly reminders to get on your bike.
Derwyn and Frank sent creative emails with just the right amount of poking and prodding to get even the laggards to bike commute. John, our VP of Marketing, says his favorite motivational moment was the captains explaining, “I couldn’t blog or Tweet or Facebook post about the bike challenge until I road in. Hitting a marketer where it hurts.” John got on his bike, had his kids ride in, and photo documented their trip. Derwyn also sent Jess a message who was working from home, and said, “If you don’t ride tomorrow… stay home. ”
5. Derwyn & Frank’s Bike Commute Finale celebration.
The bike pub tour will conclude our bike commute month. Locations include Rontoms, Green Dragon, APEX and The Hutch for karaoke. At APEX, we will have Jama’s version of Michael Scott’s Dundee Awards, complete with handmade trophy. Derwyn spent weeks building the custom design from all recycled bike parts to be presented to the individual who most embodied the spirit of BTA BCC. Both Frank and Derwyn noted, “a few disclaimers. Nobody should pedal while intoxicated (PWI). TriMet takes bikes. Bikes can be left and cabs can be taken. Sampling beer, wine & spirits can be done sparingly. Remember your helmet. Remember your bike lights. Remember your dry verbal wit lest you disappoint your fellow pub mates.”
6. The 52-mile adventure ride.
Frank organized a 52-mile commute to Jama’s offsite team building event for anyone who was up for the challenge. He let the others draft him and navigated the entire trip. He even helped fix a flat at the start of the journey. It was a crazy ride into Forest Grove, but great team building complete with a roar of applause upon arrival.
7. Post-ride blended breakfast.
To bring us into the final stretch, Derwyn offered to make his world-class smoothies for all bike commuters on September 29th. The smoothies got Mike to ride in after a 5-year “break” from commuting by bike. Derwyn even offered smoothies to new Jama hires who hadn’t participated in order to motivate them for next year’s
challenge. Always thinking ahead!
8. Frank’s Mystery Ride
This ride down memory lane took us on a Jama Historical Society tour of Portland with the ghosts of the Jama future and past. We saw all four past and future locations of the Jama office. Frank and Derwyn each shared stories, and Frank carried everyone’s lunch for them on a trailer he towed behind his bike. And brought beer.
Pit stop on the mystery ride
9. Continuous commitment to bike commuting.
Derwyn and Frank’s commitment to bike commuting extends beyond the month of September. They’ve helped secure a custom bike rack, made of recycled bike parts, for our new office to encourage continued riding. They also worked with a local bike shop to get a deal on loaner bikes for the office. That way, riders without bikes can borrow a bike to ride to lunch or to and from home as needed.
10. All Office Ride Day
Our Co-Captains had a dream – that 50% of the office would ride in on a single day. They encouraged everyone to participate with the perfect blend of motivation and fun. On that day, over 60% of the office road in from locations as far as Vancouver, WA. Cody, who had never ridden his bike to work before this challenge, is now planning on making the 30-mile commute by bike at least 2 days a week. He says he owes it all to Derwyn and Frank.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vancouver Sidewalk Sites

I enjoyed the various and diverse landscape of art and poetry as a pedestrian in Vancouver. I imagine this comes hand in hand with the amount of people that live in an area. Naturally, if someone lives in a neighbhorhood there is an inherent interest in making it more livable and beautiful.

Posted by Picasa

Walk21 Davie Street Walkshop

Gordon Price hosted the Walkshop on Davie Street that took us to the West End, the neighborhood that he lives in. We started at the Seawall, which is a very important backbone to the City's transportation infrastructure. It was great to hear Gordon talk about the history of the community and the challenges he had in getting developers to do the right thing. He has a lot of experience related to the use of the streets, the choices that were made at the local level, and the big picture, which he shared at the plenary session.

The seawall has a lot of use throughout the day and is a place where people go to get a break from the City. Gordon described how the City pulled together a lot of vacant land and worked with a developer on the master plan for this area. The developer chosen was not a Canadian or American (an Asian country I can't recall), which describes the density (most American developers probably wouldn't have had the same vision) and the layout which reminds me of something similar that I have seen in Japan, which I would describe as more complex.

As we walked up Davie Street, we found that the mix of developments was more diverse. There was a nice section of old warehouses that had been converted into live-work space. This area reminded me of the Pearl District and specifically on NW 13th Avenue in Portland. Both areas have links to transit (streetcar vs. subway). The planner from the City of Vancouver described that the docks are managed by the City, so they control the space and manage the cafes quite carefully to get the desired outcome of a livable space that attracts conventioners and people that are looking for a unique setting. The docks are wider than ours and thus they have an opportunity to do quite a bit more with the space than we have in Portland.

The outdoor seating was heated and sheltered from the wind. I thought the heating was unnecessary but definitely would have been appreciated by my wife.

There were quite a few big flat screens for watching TV and it brought the restaurant experience into the public realm.

They had sort of an odd take on garbage dumpsters and left them out in the open to maintain the district's gritty feel. This surprised me because as the owner of the public space they could have come up with a more creative solution (the Dutch co-locate them underground) to eliminate the use of space on the street.
As we walked north through the City, I was definitely the only one of the bunch taking photos of the traffic signals and the lighting, which is so similar but different in subtle ways.

Posted by Picasa