Sunday, July 21, 2013

Traffic Signal Systems Committee Meeting in Portland

At the Summer meeting of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Traffic Signal Systems, we started off the three day meeting on a bike ride of inner Portland, giving the transportation engineers the opportunity to experience the streets on a bicycle. The 20 or so people that joined the trip got to see some of the good, bad, and brand new of the City. The visit included a trip on our City's downtown grid (slow speed progression - good), connections to the Waterfront across SW Naito Parkway (signals not really built for bicycle traffic - bad), the Eastbank Esplanade (relatively new), the Hawthorne Bridge counter (new), and the South Waterfront signals on SW Moody (new and improved).

The sit down meetings on Sunday occurred after lunch with multiple tracks of topic including (Simulation & Asset Management), (Multimodal & Technology - think driverless cars), and Signal Timing. The final session is a Research summary that comes up with Problem Statements that will be forwarded to the AASHTO Standing Committee on Research (SCOR) which results in some ideas that end up getting funded that can improve our practice in traffic signal systems.

These sorts of visits to bicycle infrastructure exposes engineers to a new mode that aren't always considered in traditional traffic engineering. There have been some cases where engineers have gotten an opportunity to travel to Europe to see the design used for multimodal solutions that have lead to 30% bicycle mode split.

That's a huge difference than Portland and it is largely because of the gaps that exist based on the various designs that have been used over the years and the lack of emphasis on this mode in the U.S.

More thoughts as the meeting continues throughout the next two days.

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