Giving priority to groups of cyclists at traffic lights. That is, in a nutshell, the approach of the Bicycle Platoon Module, a pilot project that DTV Consultants, commissioned by SmartwayZ.NL, is launching this spring. What is unique is that a combination of smart software with camera technology detects bicycle speed and adjusts the required “green time” accordingly with much greater accuracy.
The first tests with the Bicycle Platoon Module are promising, says Saliou Diallo, Smart Mobility consultant at DTV Consultants: “Computer simulations show that the intelligent green control for groups of cyclists works fine. The next step is to try out the module in practice.” On April 18, Etienne Wieme, Project Leader Talking Traffic/C-ITS at SmartwayZ.NL and DTV Consultants will give a demonstration of the Bicycle Platoon Module at the Automotive Week (April 16-19) on the Automotive Campus in Helmond. A pilot in a number of yet-to-be-determined municipalities in the southern Netherlands will follow in the summer, after which an evaluation is planned.
More attention for cyclists
“Cities and towns want to encourage the use of bicycles by making cyclists stop less at traffic lights, but how do you do this without making other road users wait longer? Also important from the point of view of CO2 reduction and traffic flow, two important current mobility topics.” says Etienne Wieme. Following recent research by DTV Consultants, SmartwayZ.NL asked the Breda-based traffic engineering consultancy for help. “We want to have a technology developed that gives groups of cyclists priority at traffic lights. Obviously in such a way that other traffic is hardly affected.” They came up with the Bicycle Platoon Module: a technology that detects groups of cyclists based on bicycle speed and adjusts the green time of the traffic light accordingly.
Bicycle Platoon Module
The Bicycle Platoon Module consists of both smart software and a camera. The camera is aimed at an area tens of meters away from the traffic light. The linked software predicts whether cyclists will form a group of at least three cyclists in close proximity when they arrive at the traffic light. If so, the cyclists are marked as a “platoon”. Uniquely, the Bicycle Platoon Module considers the speed of the cyclists in question. As a result, cyclists do not have to form a group dozens of meters before the intersection. Instead, the module calculates exactly whether the cyclists will form a group once they arrive at the stop line. If so, the traffic light turns green and the cyclists are given free passage. “The advantage of the speed detection and the predictive ability is that the traffic light is never green for too long or too short. Other traffic can flow smoothly, while the cyclists have to stop less often,” says Diallo. He therefore speaks of a “win-win situation”.
By the end of the year the Bicycle Platoon Module should be ready for use. An assessment framework will also be drawn up, providing road authorities with tools for applying the Bicycle Platoon Module. The module will first be available for the provinces of North Brabant and Limburg, and later for the rest of the Netherlands. Diallo explains, “The module is compatible with a generator that road authorities in the Netherlands use to create traffic light control systems. The module works with open standards. The assessment framework will also be public.” Wieme concludes: “In short, everyone will soon be able to work with this innovative technology. From now on, cyclists will more frequently have priority at traffic lights, which will allow authorities to encourage bicycle use and work towards their CO2 targets.”