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News & Press: APBP Newsletter

Visualizing the Vision

Wednesday, July 18, 2018  
Posted by: APBP Staff
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Michael King, former APBP Vice President and current principle on BuroHappold Engineering’s Cities team, shares a new visualization tool from his work:

To protect bike lanes or not.  That seems to be an eternal question in the bicycle facility community.  I once moderated the apbp list-serve.  It was a going debate then and (I understand) continues today unabated.  Whichever side you land on, it would be good to have some visuals to help you make your case.  

Earlier this century, we began a workshop series called REAL INTERSECTION DESIGN: Get RID of Rhetoric.  Debuted at the 2000 ProBike/ProWalk conference in Philadelphia (back then bikers were first and place had not been added yet) the workshop applied the talents of six diverse teams to the redesign of the same site.  The idea was, and remains, to get to the solution, avoiding as much hot air along the way.  We redesigned many a place using this format, and have added tactical urbanism to the mix.  

Now, what if we could recreate the same in a 4D model?  Use existing data and produce side-by-side comparison of various options? Base the model on a video of the existing condition?  No speculation, just reality.  And no rhetoric.  Voilà: SmartMove.  

The two videos below show two different options for the design of a cycle track along a large, heavily trafficked street. The proposed cycle track would pass a Metro station entrance where there is limited queuing space. There are a number of factors to consider, including parked cars, signal timing, platoons of people exiting the Metro, where pedestrians are meant to wait to cross the street, turning speeds, and cross traffic.  

The first option continues the cycle track straight through the junction and adds a pedestrian refuge island in the parking lane.  People are meant to stand on the island as they wait for the signal.  The island serves to slow the speeds of turning vehicles.

The second option expands the width of the walkway at the station exit, with the bike lane swerving around it.  The waiting space for people is lower, but one does not have to cross the bike lane to wait.  Aside the bike lane is a right turn lane, which is useful if there is a sufficient amount of traffic turning right; however, the turning speeds will be higher.

The videos are from an agent-based model.  Traditional intersection analysis represents issues numerically using a spreadsheet, or spatially, using a drawing. Our model was based on video recordings of the location, signal timing, volume counts, and speed calculations.  The model recreated the busiest conditions expected at the location.  Additionally, quantitative data was extracted from the simulation for comparison.

By using videos to show options, we were able to demonstrate actual true-to-life conditions, bringing the facts and figures to life.  This is quite useful when interfacing with stakeholders.  And it gets rid of rhetoric!