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Improvement of Cycleway by Evaluating Road Environment and Estimating Bicycle Traffic Volume

Qiang Liu , Riken Homma, Kazuhisa Iki
American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture. 2019, 7(1), 28-37. DOI: 10.12691/ajcea-7-1-4
Received January 02, 2019; Revised February 06, 2019; Accepted February 18, 2019

Abstract

The bicycle is widely used in Japan by people of all age groups, with daily frequency, which may significantly ease traffic congestion and reduce toxic gas emission from vehicles. Because of the increase in the number of cyclists, it is necessary to improve and develop cycleways in Japan. This study concentrated on improving the cycleways by using both the bicycle compatibility index (BCI) and four-step model (FSM) to select the road segments with the highest priority for improvement in Kumamoto City, Japan. The BCI was used to evaluate the road environment for cycling according to the road characteristics and land use types by means of a statistical analysis and a classification of the main roads into six compatibility levels. The FSM estimated the bicycle traffic volume on the links of the road network by GIS, and the bicycle traffic volume was expressed by the thickness of lines. As a result, based on the combined results from the BCI and FSM, eight road segments were identified as those with the highest priority for improvement (low compatibility levels and high bicycle traffic volume).

1. Introduction

The motor vehicle is considered as one of the faster and more convenient means of transport, and it is widely used worldwide. Even though the motor vehicle dominates in most cities, it also causes numerous social and environmental issues. The use of bicycles is increasing and is being promoted as a convenient, healthy, and environmentally friendly alternative mode of transportation for all age groups. Because of the increase in the number of cyclists, the bicycle is now considered as an important mode of urban transportation in Japan. To create a comfortable and safe cycling environment for cyclists, Kumamoto City elaborated in 2012 the Cycleway Improvement Plan of Kumamoto City to improve the cycleway network. However, until now, only about 9.6 km of dedicated cycle lanes are covering Kumamoto City. In response to this situation, the improvement of the cycleway network and development of a bicycle friendly environment is necessary. Recently, many cycleway network improvement methods have been proposed, which can be divided into two groups: cycleway evaluation and bicycle traffic volume estimation.

The concept of roadway comfort for cyclists is important, and thus, the Geelong Bikeplan Team defined the bicycling suitability of roadways from the perspective of the cyclists and developed the concept known as the bicycle stress level (BSL) in 1978 1. This team used the bicycling experience to define the concept quantitatively, using three variables that have the most impact on the cyclist stress. In the 1960s, the Highway Capacity Manual introduced the level of service (LOS) to evaluate the roadway networks 2. In 1997, based on the LOS, Landis et al. proposed the concept of bicycle level of service (BLOS) to measure the perception of safety in bicycle facilities 3. However, there was no methodology widely accepted by engineers and planners to evaluate the environment of the cycleway. In 1998, the bicycle compatibility index (BCI) was developed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in America; it was developed for urban and suburban areas to assess the cycling environment of the roadway 4. The BCI can clearly reflect the effect on bicycle friendliness of traffic and roadway factors such as curb lane width, bike lane width, traffic volume, and type of roadside development. It was also used in other countries to measure the comfort of cyclists. In 2013, Hikaru used the BCI in Tokyo and evaluated the road network; nonetheless, the author did not use it for further research on the improvement of cycleways 5. In 2015, Ilie et al. applied BCI for the designed bicycle network to identify the deficiencies in Romania 6.

For bicycle demand forecasting, previous studies have traditionally used questionnaire surveys such as route records questionnaires or household survey 7, 8, 9. However, the questionnaire survey cannot generate large amounts of data, which limits the research. On the other hand, the bicycle travel demand forecasting models are improved better to represent bicycle 10, 11. Sunagawa tried the technique of estimating bicycle traffic volume by practical use of the national census and person trip data, concentrating on commuting and attending school trips, to examine the effectiveness of the estimation result 12. However, the four-step model (FSM) is the most commonly used technique for travel demand forecasting models 13. Although FSM is typically used for motor vehicle, Metropolitan Planning Organizations modified it to account for non-motorized 14. Pedestrian demand model used an enhanced FSM to estimate pedestrian travel 15. And based on the FSM, Latent Demand Model used geographic information system (GIS) to estimate bicycle travel 16, 17.

These two methods have been applied separately, and to our knowledge, until now, there have been few studies combining cycleway comfort and bicycle traffic volume. Although a road segment may have been evaluated with a low score, it does not necessarily mean that this road segment needs improvement because the number of bicycle trips is unknown. To address this issue, this study integrates these two methods for cycleway network improvement. In this study, the road environment evaluation and bicycle traffic volume estimation were used to identify which cycleway has the highest priority for improvement. Thus, the road segments with priority for development and some additional proposals can be determined. The study area is Kumamoto City, which is located in the middle of Kyushu Island, Japan. In Kumamoto City, the second largest city in Kyushu Island, cycling represents about 13.9% of all personal transportation modes, the second highest in the island.

The rest of this paper is organized as follows: Section 2 describes separately the data and details for Kumamoto City of these two methods. Section 3 discusses the results of the combination of both methods. Finally, Section 4 concludes and discusses the limitations.

2. Materials and Methods

To evaluate the road environment and estimate the bicycle traffic volume, the authors used two research methods. The first method is the BCI, which was developed by the Federal Highway Administration in America; it is used to assess the “bicycle friendliness” of the roadway 4. The second method is the FSM. The FSM is the process of estimating the number of vehicles, and with some adjustments, it was used here to estimate the volume of bicycles. With these two methods, the authors could choose which road segments need to be improved, and thus, give them priority over other cycleways.

The data came from different sources because the BCI needed the roadway characteristics for statistical analysis, while the FSM needed the population and individual travel behavior for the statistical and GIS analyses. In relation to the BCI, the traffic census survey (TCS) website provided the characteristics of the roadways in Kumamoto City with all the attributes that the BCI needed. The TCS data includes road condition, traffic volume survey, and travel speed. For the statistical analysis, the authors used the TCS data at 285 locations as point data to calculate and then, using the GIS, put the calculated results into the map on each segment of the road.

However, the TCS in Japan only comprises motor vehicles, and thus, data on bicycle traffic volume is limited. Although some organizations counted bicycle trips, they only collected bicycle trips data periodically for specific studies in small areas. The person trip (PT) survey provides information that is more useful. In this research, the authors used the FSM to estimate the bicycle traffic volume. In relation to the FSM, the national census provided the population by basic unit (the smallest region unit in the national census) and the PT survey provided the individual trip behavior. The PT survey selects a random sample of Kumamoto citizens, with a big sample size, and all types of trips are collected. Its range of types of trips includes motor vehicles, public traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians. It also comprises trip origin-destination (OD) data and other related items.

2.1. Bicycle Compatibility Index

The comfort of cyclists is one of the most commonly used measures to evaluate the cycleway environment. The BCI is the calculation of the cyclists’ comfort on each street segment based on the roadway and traffic factors that were used in this study. Hasan used the BCI to generate the best bicycle route and, based on the BCI, a color-coded map was elaborated 18. The comfort index aims to obtain the sentiments of more than 200 participants by letting them watch 67 videos in which the road can be clearly seen. Then, the FHWA let them rate these videos (road segments) according to the cycling environments and through a regression analysis obtained the equation below 4.

(1)

where:

BL: presence of a bicycle lane or paved shoulder ≥ 0.9 m

YES: BL=1; NO: BL=0;

BLW: bicycle lane (or paved shoulder) width;

CLW: curb lane width;

CLV: curb lane volume;

OLV: other lane(s) volume;

SPD: legal speed limit +15 km/h;

PKG: presence of a parking lane with more than 30% occupancy

YES: PKG=1; NO: PKG=0;

AREA: type of roadside development

Residential: AREA=1; Other type: AREA=0;

AF: fr+fu+fi, fr: adjustment factor for truck volumes,

fu: adjustment factor for parking turnover,

fi: adjustment factor for right turn volumes.

The concept of compatibility of a roadway with cyclists is an important factor in determining the improvement of cycleways; thus, the authors used the BCI to evaluate the compatibility of the roadway environment with cyclists by using the data of the TCS. The data of the TCS that can be used in this research are listed in Table 1. As the BCI was developed in America, not all the variables in the equation corresponded to the data of the TCS. These variables can be classified into two types: known variables and unknown variables. Known variables include BL, BLW, CLW, CLV, and OLV. These variables can be obtained according to the data of the TCS, with the help of a translation of the TCS data (Table 2 and Table 3). Unknown variables are PKG, AREA, and AF because parking turnover, right turn volumes, and the presence of a parking line cannot be found in the TCS. The AREA (roadside development) in the TCS is also different to the variable in the BCI. The unknown variables could not be calculated from the TCS, and thus, the authors decided to change them to suit the situation in Japan. First, PKG was defined as the percent occupancy of a parking lane, while here, it is based on whether a parking lane exists. Moreover, the description of the roadside development in the TCS is different to the AREA in the BCI; thus, the authors decided that if the type of roadside development is a densely populated district, AREA would be equal to 1. Finally, fu and fi could not be found, and thus, AF fr and fr depended on curb lane truck volume (CLTV) (Table 4).

With the derived equation and data, the authors could calculate the compatibility of each of the main roads in Kumamoto city and classify them into several compatibility levels, from high to low level. This is called the level of service (LOS), which is classified into six levels 2. The LOS is not only defined for motor vehicles, it is also developed to describe cyclists 19. In this study, according to the LOS, the compatibility levels were established from level A to level F, as presented in Table 5. The breakpoints between each of the levels were defined as the 5th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 95th percentiles of the overall scores. Level A means that the road segment is extremely comfortable for the cyclist, while level F indicates the worst condition. A poor score suggests that the roadway may need some improvements to enhance the cyclists` comfort. The last output option is a color-coded map based on the LOS of all streets in Kumamoto city (Figure 1). This option can display the BCI of all the main roadways and help authors to identify bicycle facilities that may need improvement.

2.2. Four-step Models

Although a road segment may have a low score in LOS, it does not necessarily mean that this road segment needs to be improved because bicycle volume is unknown. Therefore, in this research, the bicycle traffic volume was required. However, the TCS data only comprise motor vehicles, and thus, data on bicycling are limited. The FSM was used to estimate the volume of bicycles, which can predict whether there is a large demand for cycling, with data from the PT and national census surveys. The FSM is the process of predicting the number of vehicles, and it is used here with some changes to estimate the volume of bicycles. The four steps in the model include trip generation, trip distribution, mode choice, and trip assignment 20. In this study, the four steps became trip generation, trip distribution, zone choice, and bicycle traffic volume assignment because the model was only used to estimate the traffic volume of bicycles. In the fourth step, according to the characteristics of route choice when using a bicycle, the estimated bicycle traffic volumes were assigned by GIS to each of the road segments in the Kumamoto city network.


2.2.1. Person Trip Survey

As a method to estimate bicycle traffic volume, the FSM has significant data demands. The primary data define travel behavior including origin and destination, trip purpose, and travel mode, and the PT survey can provide much of the required data. The PT survey is similar to the household travel survey and it aims at determining the movements of a person. It is intended to investigate the daily trips taken by individuals and includes inquiries such as “what kind of people,” “for what purpose,” “from where to where,” and “means of transportation.” Kajita predicted a short-time OD model to construct a time-of-day traffic demand forecasting system based on the parameters from the PT survey data 21. Kajita used the model to estimate traffic volumes in each time class during a day. However, the PT survey is a sample survey. Therefore, the authors decided to expand it, as the expanded bicycle trips could represent the trips of the whole population in Kumamoto city. To expand the sample to represent the trips of the whole population in the city, the authors applied the PT survey data for 271152 samples and combined them with the national census data.

The PT survey in Kumamoto determined 5 wards and 127 zones, as shown in Figure 2. As can be seen, two different levels of subdivisions were employed. In this study, to estimate the bicycle traffic volume more accurately, the 127 zones were used as the origins and destinations for a one-person trip to accommodate the FSM. The zone was also used as the traffic analysis zone in trip generation and trip distribution.


2.2.2. Trip Generation

The objective of the first step of the process was to determine the number of bicycle trips that were produced (trip production) or attracted (trip attraction) in each traffic analysis zone. First, it is necessary to match the bicycle trip makers’ origins and destinations to develop an origin–destination (OD) matrix, which specifies the travel demands between traffic analysis zones. However, the PT survey range covers various types of trips, including motor vehicles, public traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians. As our study only concentrates on bicycle trips, the other modes of transport were excluded. Through the PT survey, the OD matrix with 127 traffic analysis zones for one transport mode (bicycle) is obtained. According to the OD matrix, the authors determined the trip production (Gi) and trip attraction (Aj) of each zone. The calculation equations of trip production and trip attraction are as follows:

(2)

where:

Gi: Number of Trip Productions in zone I;

Aj: Number of Trip Attractions in zone j;

Tij: The bicycle trips from zone i to zone j.


2.2.3. Trip Distribution

Trip distribution is the second step of the FSM. The PT survey is a sample survey. Therefore, this step needed the expansion, as the expanded bicycle trips can represent the trips of the whole population in Kumamoto city. First, the authors expanded trip production (Gi) and trip attraction (Aj) based on the sample number and population by traffic analysis zone. The growth factor model can be used. The growth factor model is a method that “responds only to relative growth rates at origins and destinations.” 22. This model attempts to generate the expanded trips by defining a zonal growth factor by population or sample number. Thus, the growth factor model describes the expanded trip production (EGi) according to (Gi/sample number)×population and the expanded trip attraction (EAj) according to (Aj /sample number)×population. The expansion is calculated by using the equation below.

(3)

where:

EGi: Expanded trip production;

EAj: Expanded trip attraction.

According to the sample number and population of each traffic analysis zone, the expansions of trip production and trip attraction were obtained. After expanding trip production and trip attraction, the next step needed to expand the trip distribution with the present pattern method, which is similar to the average growth factor technique. To predict the traffic volume, the present pattern method is always used to estimate the OD matrix 23, 24. This task is known as distributing the trips between traffic analysis zones to generate an estimated OD matrix. The present pattern method is based on the idea that the growth in zonal travel between any two zones is related to the growth in travel in each zone individually. First, the individual zonal growth factors for any two zones i and j are defined as EGi /Gi and EAj /Aj. Then, the authors assumed that the growth factor in travel between the two zones is equal to the average of the two zonal growth factors. An equation of the expanded trip distribution between zones i and j is given by Eq. (4). In other words, the expanded trip distribution between any two zones i and j is the trip distribution multiplied by the average growth factor. The objective of the second step is to generate a new OD matrix according to these schemes. The expanded trip distribution in the new OD matrix will help to assign the bicycle traffic trips on the road network in the last step.

(4)

where:

EGi/Gi: the growth factors for zone i;

EAj/Aj: the growth factors for zone j.


2.2.4. Zone Choice

As with tables and equations, figures should be set in one column if possible unless two-column display is essential. The resolution of graphics and image should be adequate to reveal the important detail in the figure.

The third step in the FSM is usually the mode choice. However, the data in the first and second steps are only concentrated on the bicycle trips, and the other modes of transport were excluded. Therefore, the mode choice is not necessary for this study. This study assigned the traffic volume by choosing the traffic analysis zones that have both high bicycle traffic volume and high connectivity with other zones. Thus, the third step becomes zone choice, not mode choice.

To select the study zones, first, the authors classified the bicycle traffic volume and connectivity of each zone by means of a cluster analysis (Ward method) before assigning the traffic volume to each route. The cluster analysis is commonly used for achieving homogeneity and its main purpose is to construct a classification scheme for unclassified data. Because of the cluster analysis, the authors obtained five ranks (Figure 3). From Figure 3 it can be seen that rank 1, in which the bicycle traffic volume was high, is concentrated in the city center and east of Kumamoto. The number of zones in rank 4 was the largest, and they were mainly concentrated around Kumamoto city. This study assigns the traffic volume in rank 1 (13 zones), which has a large bicycle traffic volume and high connectivity. Nevertheless, these 13 zones were separated, not linked together. It means that the bicycle traffic–volume assignment on these 13 zones may be affected by the other linked zones because of the through traffic. To solve this problem, the authors decided that if one zone was connected to rank 1 and more than 12 bicycle trips occurred, it would also become one of the study zones. As a result, the object area had 31 zones (Figure 3) and the bicycle traffic volume was assigned to the road network based on these 31 zones.


2.2.5. Bicycle Traffic Volume Assignment

In the last of the four major steps of the FSM, the authors assigned the bicycle traffic trips to the links of the road network in the object area. The objective of the last step was to determine the bicycle traffic volume in the links of the road network that result from the route choices that cyclists make when traveling. Based on the new OD matrix, this assignment determined which route trips they will take for going from origins to destinations, and the centers of the zones served as the origins and destinations in the trip assignment. Through this assignment, the authors could know the number of bicycle trips on each link of the road network, excluding the highway.

Once the trips have been split, the specific route that cyclists use to travel from one zone (origin) to another (destination) must be found. Generally, the common behavioral assumption is that cyclists would choose the available route having the least travel distance between the origin and destination. However, this assumption cannot reflect the characteristics of cyclists because, in reality, different cyclists take different routes. To make an assumption closer to reality and with practical significance, the authors provided a set of route choices. According to the bicycle users’ behavioral characteristics, Horita found that there are four kinds of routes frequently used by cyclists in Japan, which are the shortest route, alley priority, main street priority, and flat road 25. The bicycle traffic volume was assigned to these four kinds of routes, and the distribution rates were 37%, 37%, 22%, and 4%, respectively. The authors used the GIS to complete the assignment of bicycle traffic volume. First, one traffic analysis zone was designated as the origin, and thus, the other 30 zones were destinations. Then the trips between O–D were assigned to the four kinds of routes with the decided distribution rates. Then, the bicycle traffic volume on each zone was obtained by repeating these procedures for all 31 zones, and the bicycle traffic volume of all the zones was combined. Finally, the result produced the bicycle traffic volumes for the roadways in the network, and the bicycle traffic volume was expressed by the thickness of the lines (Figure 4).

3. Results

Combining the analyses of the BCI and FSM, the road segments with low evaluation and highly demanded by bicycles were chosen as the priority development roads. If the estimated bicycle traffic volume is larger than the average in the study area, it is considered as a highly demanded segment and, if the compatibility level is lower than an LOS of C, it is regarded as a segment with low evaluation. The BCI was determined for all the main roadways within Kumamoto City, while the FSM was calculated for the roadways in the 31 zones of the object area. Therefore, this study compared the coincident roadways between the BCI and FSM. In this study, if the bicycle traffic volume in a road segment was over 1185 trips per day and the BCI was over 15.275 (lower than level C in LOS), it could be regarded as a priority road segment (Figure 5). Because of the GIS analysis, the road segments were separated by sections. The points in Figure 5 are not road segments, but the different sections of the segments. Therefore, the point in the first quadrant of the scatter plot in Figure 5 finally composed eight road segments. These eight road segments were chosen as priority road segments, which were part of the National Way No.3, National Way No.57, Kumamoto takamori road, and Kumamoto kikuyou road (Table 6 and Figure 6).

4. Conclusions

This research used the BCI and FSM for improving the cycleways in Kumamoto City. First, the BCI evaluated the road environment for cycling with an equation that included as inputs the main road characteristic values. The result of this analysis indicated the cyclists’ overall comfort level rating in the entire city. Then, the FSM estimated the bicycle traffic volumes on the links of the road network in the object area. This model detected whether there is a large demand for bicycle trips on those links. Finally, the results from the BCI and FSM were combined to designate the highest priority roadways may be should be improved.

This study provides recommendations for improving the cycling environment in Japan. The BCI and FSM had been applied separately in many previous studies, but this study focused on their combination. The methodology comprising the combined BCI and FSM may be helpful for city planners to develop bicycle network plans and may guide the city Kumamoto and other cities. This study will also be helpful for building an effective bicycle network by choosing the highest priority roadways for improvement. The improved cycling environment could contribute to the increase in bicycle traffic volume.

Some limitations of this research must be noted. First, as the BCI was developed in America, its applicability should be discussed, even though it has already been used by a previous study in Tokyo. Second, the slope along the bicycle route may have a restricting effect on bicycle riding 26 and it is not included in the variables of the BCI. Third, models need to demonstrate that they provide accurate predictions for current travel. However, it is difficult to demonstrate the FSM accuracy because there are few data on bicycle traffic volume. According to these problems, in the next step of this study, a BCI evaluating equation suitable for Kumamoto city or for Japan will be developed, with the same approach used to develop the BCI model. Future research will also involve a bicycle traffic-volume survey to calibrate the FSM, checking its precision by running the model repeatedly until it replicates the current results at acceptable levels of accuracy.

Acknowledgements

The Authors did not receive any specific funding for this work.

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Published with license by Science and Education Publishing, Copyright © 2019 Qiang Liu, Riken Homma and Kazuhisa Iki

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Normal Style
Qiang Liu, Riken Homma, Kazuhisa Iki. Improvement of Cycleway by Evaluating Road Environment and Estimating Bicycle Traffic Volume. American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture. Vol. 7, No. 1, 2019, pp 28-37. http://pubs.sciepub.com/ajcea/7/1/4
MLA Style
Liu, Qiang, Riken Homma, and Kazuhisa Iki. "Improvement of Cycleway by Evaluating Road Environment and Estimating Bicycle Traffic Volume." American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture 7.1 (2019): 28-37.
APA Style
Liu, Q. , Homma, R. , & Iki, K. (2019). Improvement of Cycleway by Evaluating Road Environment and Estimating Bicycle Traffic Volume. American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture, 7(1), 28-37.
Chicago Style
Liu, Qiang, Riken Homma, and Kazuhisa Iki. "Improvement of Cycleway by Evaluating Road Environment and Estimating Bicycle Traffic Volume." American Journal of Civil Engineering and Architecture 7, no. 1 (2019): 28-37.
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[1]  Geelong Planning Committee, Geelong Bikeplan, Geelong, Australia, 1978.
In article      
 
[2]  Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), Highway Capacity Manual. Transportation Research Board, 2000.
In article      
 
[3]  Landis, B. W., Vattikuti, V. and Brannick M., “Real-Time human perceptions: Toward a bicyclist level of service.” Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Vol. 1578, pp. 119-126, 1997.
In article      View Article
 
[4]  Federal Highways Administration (FHWA), Development of the Bicycle Compatibility Index: A Level of Service Concept, Report No. FHWA-RD-98-072, Transportation Research Board, 1998.
In article      
 
[5]  Hikaru N. A study to construct a network to ride bicycles easily and sagely sharing roads with cars and pedestrians in urban area, Master`s thesis, Chuo University, 2013.
In article      
 
[6]  Ilie A., Oprea C., Costescu D., Rosca E. Dinu O. and Ghionea F., “The use of the bicycle compatibility index in identifying gaps and deficiencies in bicycle networks.” 20th Innovative Manufacturing Engineering and Energy Conference, 2016.
In article      
 
[7]  Sato T., Kanda Y., Kitama H., Abe H. and Hashimoto S., “Analysis of bicycles’ traffic demand characteristics route choice behavior in Okayama City.” Proceedings of Infrastructure Planning (CD-ROM), Committee of Infrastructure Planning and Management, ROMBUNNO.362, 2010(in Japanese).
In article      
 
[8]  Juan D. O., Andrés I. and Claudio V, “Estimating demand for a cycle-way network.” Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, 34(5), 353-373, 2000.
In article      View Article
 
[9]  Suzuki K., Kanda Y., Doi K. and Tsuchizaki N., “Proposal and application of new method for bicycle network planning.” Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Elsevier, 43, 558-570. 2012.
In article      
 
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