A Look at Traffic

Case studies to allow an analysis of traffic.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Center Street Rail Solves the Bike-Bus Interaction Problem

As a Cyclist, I am frequently encountering the bike-bus interaction that is frustrating for both on a bike and driving a transit vehicle. Buses typically have curb side pickup for their passengers. Bike lanes also typically find themselves next to the curb. When a bus needs to pick up or drop off passengers at a curb side bus stop, they dangerously prevent cyclists from proceeding without moving over endangering themselves and others by changing lanes.

Thinking about buses more, two more major issues need to be addressed with the introduction of a transit system.  First, I often see them empty but with a capacity to carry ~40 people. Why do transit agencies manufacture and run such large busses when they are often virtually empty? Secondly, bicycles or luggage are also an important part of bus patrons travel and need to be accommodated on a transit system as well.

To address these three modern problems of our modern day transit system, the Center Street Rail is proposed. Below is a example street cross section of how this would look.

Center Street Rail with platform and inner bike lanes and wide pedestrian sidewalks. Credit: www.Streetmix.net
The Center Street Rail has the following features, listed below here in bullet points.

  • Light rail line in center of street, 1 Directional with opposite direction less than 2 blocks away
  • 2 seat wide cab cars for slim cab car design
    • Sliding doors for each row
    • Loading from one side and unloading from the other
  • Smartphone and station kiosks provide payment and navigation services
    • Payment and destination information recorded
  • Additional rail cabs for on-demand capacity
  • Bike and luggage storage with foldable seats
  • Max 30 minute wait, but as demand increases wait time reduces
  • Rail cab street crossings are synchronized with intersection timing
  • Planning and implementation of Center Street Rail uses cell phone network data to determine common route patterns for frequently used origin and destinations
  • Built on existing low volume streets no further than a few blocks away from a main boulevard
The center street rail utilizes streets with a slim profile to minimize impact to the existing vehicle network by only traveling in one direction on each street. A dot representation of this network is shown below as a example.
Dot Representation Network of Center Street Rail with single directional steeet
I admit this transit system has plenty of flaws and its still abstract but it solves the main problem of bikes and bus interacting dangerously. The Center Street Rail forces users to walk more, however the walking routes are safe pedestrian friendly sidewalks and crossings and provide shops and cafes for a pleasant outdoor experience.

The bike lane has shifted towards the center of the street to address the cyclists safety. Additionally this provides a safe space for cars parallel parking next to the curb and removing cyclists from the door zone. Cyclists use the enhanced pedestrian crossings to navigate intersections for left and right crossings. Bollards help protect the bike lane as a buffer from vehicular traffic.

This transit idea utilizes 3 features to enhance user mobility within the city beyond a typical bus transit system in a city. These features are:

  1. Pedestrian Friendly Environment: crossings and street connectors allowing for safe, enjoyable waking within the streets between station routes. Additional enhancements include blue paint crosswalks, bulb-outs, in pavement pedestrian flashers and wide sidewalks with trash cans and benches.
  2. Simplified transfers: Way-finding kiosks and smartphone applications guide users through the transit journey from station to station until they reach their final destination.
  3. Rapid Boarding: Payment is completed on phones before boarding or at station platform to minimize boarding time and delay.
Similar to South Korean transit systems payment, the center street rail network would allow for money to be stored on the mobile app or Tap card. This money can be spent for future transit rides and local business near the transit system, further encouraging Transit Commerce Development. This type of payment bank enables the operating transit agency to collect interest and from the money stored on the balance of the account.


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