Fixing the Intersection of Broadway and City Road

Satellite Image of Improvement of Broadway - City Road Intersection
Satellite Image of Improvement of Broadway – City Road Intersection

In the second half of 2017, I supervised a first year undergraduate student Tingsen Xian on an independent student project to redesign the intersection of Broadway and City Road in Sydney.

At one corner of this intersection is Victoria Park (lower left) and the University of Sydney (just off site), at another is the Broadway Shopping Center. This intersection has a high pedestrian count, high bus count, reasonably high car count, is very wide (befitting the name “Broadway”), and has long delays, especially for pedestrians. The proposed alternative removes the free left turn and porkchop island on the southwest corner,  gives more space to pedestrians, buses (red), and bicyclists (green), and less space to cars, and the signal retiming reduces total person delay by 1.5% (a lot for pedestrians, while increasing it somewhat for car users), and sends the right incentives. The revised layout is shown in the image.

You can download the full report with more graphics, tables, and yes equations here: broadway-city-road.

[Obviously there are simplifying assumptions in any engineering analysis, and limited measurements and time to conduct the study, but I think the results are better than official results which don’t consider pedestrian delay when timing intersections. It suggests professionals should be able to do a lot better than they have done here.]

No quick fix for busy I-94 through Central Minnesota

St. Cloud Times reports: No quick fix for busy I-94 through Central Minnesota : Is solution to congestion more lanes, user fees or improved transit?
. I am interviewed by Kirsti Marohn:

“Per capita, traffic levels are about where they were in the late 1990s, said David Levinson, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota. And there’s no guarantee of growth in the next two decades, he said.

“It depends on where people want to live,” he said. Any population could be offset by the fact that people aren’t driving as much, Levinson said.

Levinson said there’s also research underway on mileage-based user fees, which charge people a fee for which roads they use according to the time of day. For example, a motorist might pay 10 cents a mile during peak hours, but 5 cents a mile during off-peak times.

Charging more during peak hours would mean people who didn’t have to travel during those times would find a different time to travel, Levinson said.

Internationally, a few large cities such as London and Stockholm have tried this approach. Many toll roads also have off-peak discounts to help spread out the demand, Levinson said.”

Lots of good graphics in the original article, worth the read.

This is a much more thorough article than one normally sees in the Star Tribune (which ran the abbreviated version from AP, without all the cool data visualizations).

Peak travel in Vancouver, where traffic counts are down significantly from 2006.

A look at traffic counts in Vancouver, BC in the Price Tags blog: Point Grey Road: The Amazing Fact Almost No One Took Seriously shows evidence of peak travel.

Another player in traffic information

From New York Times: Microsoft Introduces Tool for Avoiding Traffic Jams
The key components for any valid system is data. In most cities, there is no real traffic information on side streets. Developing “personalities” for streets is a nice idea, but without real-time data, it is all guess work.
Bill Gates got his start creating traffic counters, with his company Traf-O-Data, so this may be an idea dear to his heart.