Led by Dr. Stephen Fickas of the University of Oregon (UO),  transportation researchers are working to give bicyclists smoother rides by allowing them to communicate with traffic signals via a mobile app. 

The latest report to come out of this multi-project research effort introduces machine-learning algorithms to work with their mobile app FastTrack. Developed and tested in earlier phases of the project, the app allows cyclists to passively communicate with traffic signals along a busy bike corridor in Eugene, Oregon. Researchers hope to eventually make their app available in other cities.

"The overall goal is to give bicyclists a safer and more efficient use of a city’s signaled intersections. The current project attempts to use two deep-learning algorithms, LSTM and 1D CNN, to tackle time-series forecasting. The goal is to predict the next phase of an upcoming, actuated traffic signal given a history of its prior phases in time-series format. We're encouraged by the results," Fickas said.

Their latest work builds on two prior projects, also funded by the National Institute for Transportation a Communities: in which Fickas and his team successfully built and deployed a hardware and software product called ‘Bike Connect’ which allowed people on bikes to give hands-free advance...

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A worker measures the distance from a bike light to the ground
 

NITC researchers Stephen Fickas and Marc Schlossberg of the University of Oregon are on a mission: bring the benefits of V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure communication) to bicycling. Earlier this year they published their proof-of-concept of a DIY vehicle-to-infrastructure "bike box" in Oregon for communicating with traffic signal controllers. In the most recent round of NITC grants awarded this past summer they secured funding for Green Waves, Machine Learning, and Predictive Analytics: Making Streets Better for People on Bike & Scooter.

APPLYING GLOSA TO CYCLING

The latest report to come out of this body of work focuses on a new technology being integrated into modern cars: GLOSA, or Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory. GLOSA allows motorists to set their speed along corridors to maximize their chances of catching a "green wave" so they won't have to stop at red lights. This project demonstrates how GLOSA can be used by bicyclists in the same way it is used by motorists, with a test site on a busy car and bike corridor feeding the University of Oregon campus: 13th Avenue in Eugene, Oregon.

Fickas and Schlossberg created a...

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Cyclists cross the road at a bike signal
Investigators: Stephen Fickas, University of Oregon; Marc Schlossberg, University of Oregon
Learn more about this research by viewing the Executive Summary and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Most people who bike for transportation can probably think of "that one intersection:" The light where it's impossible to get a green without waiting. Even when there are no cars, pedestrians or other bikes in sight, you still know you'll have to stop and wait a while, sacrifice all your momentum, and wish you could have given the signal advance notice that you were coming.

Researchers at the University of Oregon have created an app for that.

Lead investigator Stephen Fickas, a computer and information science professor at the UO, developed the app, along with a specially-designed Bike Connect ‘box' (watch the 3-minute video) that attaches to a traffic signal controller. With the box installed, the app allows a cyclist to...

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Dave Amos, Roger Lindgren and March Schlossberg at TRB 2019

The National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) is excited to announce the publication of a new visual design guide, "Rethinking Streets for Bikes." Focused on case studies in the U.S., the guidebook will make it easier for North American city officials to design streets with bikes (and the people on them) in mind.

There is...

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Principal Investigator: Christopher Monsere, Portland State University
Learn more about this research by viewing the final report and related publications on the Project Overview page.

The Federal Highway Administration issued an interim approval for bike signals, based on the NITC project "Operational Guidance for Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals." The project, selected in 2015 as one of AASHTO's "Sweet Sixteen" high-value research projects, has been widely cited and the research is instrumental in beginning to standardize the use and design of bicycle signals.

This video provides a look at what that means for jurisdictions in the United States:

A new NITC report introduces an important tool for safety analysis: a naturalistic method of data collection that can be used to improve the cycling experience.

Before now, most naturalistic studies (studies where data are collected in a natural setting, rather than a controlled setting) in bicycle safety research have been captured by stationary cameras and haven't followed cyclists along a route.

Researchers in this study used first-person video and sensor data to measure cyclists' reactions to specific situations.

Safety research in general has advanced significantly through naturalistic driving studies, which gather data from real drivers to illuminate the causes of traffic incidents both major and minor. For motorized vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation has been developing portable, vehicle-based data collection technologies since the early 1990s.

Portland State University researchers Feng Liu, Miguel Figliozzi and Wu-chi Feng sought to capture the cycling experience with physiological sensors and helmet-mounted cameras.

Their report, Utilizing Ego-centric Video to Conduct Naturalistic Bicycling Studies, offers a successful method for integrating video and sensor data to record cyclists...

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Alex Bigazzi, a 2014 NITC dissertation fellow and graduate of Portland State University's Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. program, has published a paper based on his NITC-funded research in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

See ACS coverage of the project here.

Bigazzi's research evaluates the concentration of air pollution encountered by cyclists in Portland, Oregon.

In the study, volunteer research subjects rode bicycles equipped with instruments to collect high-resolution bicycle, rider, traffic and environmental data.

Participants rode a variety of routes including bicycle lanes on primary and secondary arterials, bicycle boulevards, off-street paths and mixed-use roadways. They were told to ride at a pace and exertion level typical for utilitarian travel, and breath biomarkers were used to record the amount of traffic-related pollution present in each cyclist’s exhalations. 

This research was the focus of Bigazzi's dissertation, Bicyclists’ Uptake of Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Effects of the Urban Transportation System, published by NITC in December 2014. It was related to an earlier project...

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Protected bicycle lanes have gained popularity as a safer way to get more people cycling. Earlier research from the Transportation Research and Education Center, TREC, at Portland State University showed that people feel safer in lanes with a physical barrier between bicycle and motor vehicle traffic.

The research hadn’t closely studied the intersections, where the barriers—and the protection they offer—go away. With little research guidance, agencies across the country could face the prospect of using untested approaches or avoiding protected lanes altogether.

TREC, through its National Institute for Transportation and Communities pooled-fund program, is now addressing intersections for protected lanes. The program lets agencies and interested partners invest small amounts to join research with a national impact. For this project, 11 partners each put $5,000 to $50,000 toward the $250,000 cost.

The project will help agencies decide which intersection treatments to use in which cases, and what elements each should include. Toole Design Group will work with the Portland State research team to tailor the results to practitioners.
 
“Right now, it’s based on their judgment,” said...

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Portland State University today achieved the highest ranking from the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly University program. Portland State is now one of just five platinum universities recognized under the program.

Other NITC program campuses were also designated as bike friendly. University of Oregon achieved gold status and University of Utah, silver.

The Bicycle Friendly University program evaluates applicants’ efforts to promote bicycling in five primary areas: engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation/planning, known as the Five E's.

The league noted that Portland State’s support for bicycling has helped reduce congestion, improve air quality and lower the demand for parking on campus. “Portland State encourages bicycling as an affordable, efficient option for transportation and provides amenities such as indoor bicycle parking, low-cost bicycle rentals, and an on-campus Bike Hub, where students can find everything they need to make bicycling a part of their commute options,” the league stated.

PSU previously was a gold-level bike-friendly university. In the past two years it expanded its “Vik Bike” bicycle rental program from 12 bicycles to 134. Each bike comes with lights, a lock and a helmet. The program, in which students can rent a bike for a term, receive training on bike commuting and bike maintenance, has a waiting list of participants.

During the...

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A project led by Portland State University researchers Chris Monsere and Miguel Figliozzi has been nationally recognized as one of sixteen high value research projects by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Each year at its annual meeting, AASHTO's Research Advisory Committee selects four projects from each of its four regions to form a "Sweet Sixteen" group of important and influential projects.

The project, “Operational Guidance for Bicycle-Specific Traffic Signals,” reviewed the current state of practice for bicycle signals and evaluated cyclist performance characteristics at intersections. The research has been used to inform an FHWA Interim Approval for bicycle signals.

Bike signals are beginning to be common in major cities throughout the U.S., with some engineering guidance available from the California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the...

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