Building Blocks for Sustainable Traffic Models
Today, there are an estimated one billion cars on the world’s roads. By 2020, that number could skyrocket, to 2.5 billion. Rather than focusing on improving the safety of fast-moving vehicles, the international road safety dialogue has shifted instead to three main objectives: reducing the average speed of vehicles; improving the behaviour of all road users; and reducing the total volume of vehicle miles travelled, by putting a greater emphasis on public and non-motorized transportation options. Together, these strategies are known as the “sustainable transport approach” to road safety. This integrated approach is one of the main reasons the roads of tomorrow are shaping up to look and feel vastly different to the roads of today. Want to see products that can help you make a sustainable road? Search ‘traffic’ on CADdetails.com. Or continue reading to see 5 pioneering examples of sustainable traffic models:
The Glowing Lines
Drivers on a road in the Netherlands are now being guided by futuristic-looking, glow-in-the-dark road markings. The N329 in Oss, a municipality in the southern Netherlands, is being used to pilot the innovative, sustainable transport concept. The road, pictured at right, is part of the’ Smart Highway’ project by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and his team of designers and engineers, along with Netherlands-based construction firm, Heijmans. The themes of sustainability, road safety and driver perception are key to this unique concept, and are achieved thanks to the latest technologies in energy, and light. The Glowing Lines uses luminescent paint that is charged by solar energy during the day and illuminates for up to 10 hours when the sun goes down. The road markings have much higher visibility than those using standard paint, literally transforming the road into an art installation experience, while eliminating the need for electricity, or extra highway lighting. The concept itself has been developed through several iterations and has been tested for durability and user experience. The Oss pilot project will provide additional information on how well the luminescent paint holds up on a day-to-day basis, in a real-world setting. In addition, there are a number of other concepts under the Smart Highway umbrella yet to be piloted. For example, Dynamic Paint envisages the use of temperature sensitive paint on roads to provide contextual information to drivers. If the temperature drops below freezing, the usually transparent paint would become visible, and beautiful snowflakes would notify the drivers of slippery and dangerous driving conditions. In another application, Interactive Light, the lights on a smart highway could be activated by embedded sensors, which would be able to detect approaching traffic. This way, the lights could turn off when the road is empty, saving energy. To date, the Smarts Highways team has launched two of their projects - Van Gogh Roosegaarde bicycle path, featured here and The Glowing Lines, however, the studio confirms they have plans to expand internationally in 2015.
Patriotic Singing Road Route 66
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Head over to New Mexico and take a drive down Route 66. There, the road will sing "America the Beautiful" to you. The rumble strips on this two-lane stretch of road have been carved into the road to create specific intervals and pitches when your tires run over them. The only catch is that you have to drive at 45 miles per hour for it to happen. Aside from getting drivers to slow down, state Transportation Secretary Tom Church says the rumble strips will keep drowsy drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. He says the goal of the experiment is to change driver behavior in a fun way, by giving them a reward if they obey the speed limit. The singing road was built as part of National Geographic’s new show “Crowd Control.” The show uses fun experiments to change social behavior. Watch and listen to Albuquerque’s musical highway here. It's worth mentioning that this stretch of Route 66 is not the world's first singing road. There are six others already existing in other parts of the world, including one in California, which plays the William Tell Overture!
Cykelslangen (Cycle Snake)
Copenhagen has long been leading the world in pedestrian and cyclist- infrastructure, and the city has yet again outdone itself. Last June, it welcomed the Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, a two-lane, bright orange elevated cyclist roadway over the harbor to ease congestion. The road is the latest addition to one of the most bicycle-friendly city infrastructures in the world. In Copenhagen, more than 50 percent of residents ride their bicycles to work. To put that number in perspective, Portland, Oregon, with the most bicycle commuters in the United States, clocks in at only 6.1 percent. Credit those numbers to a culture that encourages cycling, but also to an infrastructure that does the same, with traffic lights timed for bicycle speeds, cobblestone paths with smoothed shoulders, and parking systems that position unoccupied cars as a buffer between cycle lanes and moving traffic. Cykelslangen adds just 721 feet of length to the city’s 220 miles of bicycle paths, but it relieves congestion by taking riders over instead of through a waterfront shopping area. “Underneath, there’s a harbor front, so there are slow moving, pedestrians,” says Mikael Colville-Anderson, CEO of Copanhagenize, a Danish design company. “It wasn’t a smooth commute for the cyclists. The people on bikes want to get home and the pedestrians want to saunter.” Pedestrian-cyclist conflict was never an issue, but cyclists couldn’t pedal at a constant speed, and they had to deal with stairways. The new roadway, which runs one story above the ground, lets them move without interruption, while freeing up the harbor front for meandering pedestrians. At just over 13 feet wide, there’s plenty of room to pass even a double-wide cargo bike. The project cost 32 million Danish krone ($5.74 million).
Dancing Traffic Light
Last but not least, a sustainable traffic solution designed to improve pedestrian behaviour at intersections that’s fun as well as innovative! Waiting at a “do not walk” light is boring, especially when you’re in a rush. That is why a lot of pedestrians often dart out into traffic, creating a potentially dangerous situation. So the smart company has installed a range of urban pedestrian traffic lights in Lisbon, Portugal, designed to creatively occupy pedestrians waiting to cross the street. The ‘dancing traffic light’ puts a spin on the traditional illuminated red person used to indicate vehicular safety, by asking everyday participants to contribute to the figures fluidly, free-style moves. A walk-in booth invites passers-by to pick a song and groove to the tune, while their silhouette is projected onto the virtual display. Plus, the social experiment works! The dancing red lights resulted in 81% more people stopping and waiting instead of just hustling across the street and into traffic. Check out the fun video of the project here and the next time you're stuck waiting for the "walk" signal, why not try putting on your dancing shoes?