1. Green wave Raadhuisstraat Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Raadhuisstraat, green wave. In the autumn of 2007 Raadhuisstraat in Amsterdam was provided with a green wave for cyclists. At an average speed of 18 kilometres an hour cyclists encounter eleven green traffic lights in a row. The green wave for cyclists works in both directions. Motor vehicles and public transport benefit from the new regime as well, but to a lesser degree.
Along Raadhuisstraat a major east-west bicycle route passes from the town centre to the western suburbs. From Dam to Prinsengracht cyclists encounter 11 traffic lights over a distance of a little over 500 metres. In order to realise a green wave the eleven traffic lights have been geared to one another. In the past a green wave for cars was in existence, but proved to be ineffective in practice, as cars did not maintain a constant speed.
In November 2006 approximately 1,600 cyclists have been counted on Raadhuisstraat in the afternoon peak hour. This comes to approximately 8,000 cyclists/24h. Car intensities are higher, but not by much (approx. 12,000 mv/24h). In summer the number of cyclists will probably be comparable to the car intensity. In addition 15 trams and 8 buses drive past. Although most cyclists travel to the west in the afternoon peak hour, there is also a reasonable number going towards to the town centre. So a green wave for both directions has clear advantages. Most intersecting streets have a limited function for bicycles, with the exception of Prinsengracht.
The green wave has been developed by Dienst Ruimtelijke Ordening of the city of Amsterdam. First of all the various regimes have been geared to one another by the programme Transyt. In the initial situation the route contained two semi-rigid regimes (60 seconds cycle time), three rigid (72 seconds) and one traffic-actuated regime. In the new situation all regimes have a 60 second cycle time. the traffic-actuated regime has been replaced by a semi-rigid regime. A central clock is to ensure all regimes remain synchronous.
In order to optimise the regime, traffic circulation on this route has been simulated with Vissim. According to the calculations travel times decrease during afternoon peak hour for all transport modalities. There is a particular gain for traffic from the town centre to the west. This direction is busiest. Loss times here are greater than in the direction towards to the town centre, as other traffic participants cause more delays. The calculated decrease in travel time for cyclists is 1 minute (towards the west) and over 40 seconds (towards the town centre).
When the traffic lights had been re-adjusted, this was put to the test. One of the employees has tested the green wave a number of times by bike (see video). The Vissim simulation turned out to mirror reality for the bike quite well. A single traffic.
7. Parked cars
A major difference between simulation and reality is that parked cars are absent in the simulation. The consequences of parked cars are relatively minor for cyclists. Usually there is some room left for cyclists, albeit narrow. Consequences are probably greater for car circulation and trams. Cars move onto the tram tracks, where cars and trams come into conflict. Travel time calculations for cars and trams have not been tested in actual practice, however.
After the trial period local authorities have informed the media in November 2007. Particularly in the local media a lot of attention has been paid to the green wave for cyclists (see also press video). On actual street level less attention has been paid to communication with traffic participants. An unsuspecting cyclist on Raadhuisstraat itself sees nothing to indicate he should maintain a speed of 18 km/h in order to have 11 green lights. This is in contrast to several Danish examples, where the desired speed is indicated by a series of lights next to the bike path lighting up one after another, or (electronic) signs.