Innovation

Innovation in the Roadway Safety Industry

Outsiders of the transportation infrastructure industry may look to autonomous vehicles as an icon of innovation on the roadways, but for state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in the roadway safety and infrastructure industry, innovation is not a stationary achievement. It is much more than a mile marker and not as easily defined.

With different perspectives and priorities, industry stakeholders are finding that in addition to new technologies, innovation is heavily reliant on communication between entities. Industry leaders are working together to move forward and ATSSA is no different. The association works year-round to progress and develop creative solutions for all of its initiatives including highlighting innovative products and technologies, training, and ATSSA membership.


One innovative effort ATSSA is involved in is a joint initiative with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices (AHB50). Both ATSSA and TRB sponsor and conduct an exciting design competition, the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge, to promote innovation and stimulate ideas in the traffic control devices area with a goal to improve operations and safety.


Find recent updates on the latest innovations in the resource list below and be sure to check back for updates. 

Resources

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‘ITS Solutions for Bicyclists’ tour highlights how sensor data transmits safety messages to riders

Integrated technology featured at 2018 ITS World Congress

In Copenhagen, Denmark during the 2018 ITS World Congress, a tour showed participants how cyclists on electric bicycles were provided with dynamic information based on real-time sensor data via Variable Message Signs (VMS). Upstream at signalized intersections, the system places cameras on traffic lights that determine throughput and cyclist traffic. That data is processed and filtered into an LED VMS, which displays safety messages for downstream riders approaching the intersection.

Riders saw how sensor data is used to prioritize cyclists at intersections and how bicycle counters communicate to cyclists and other road users. Bicycle counters (or bicycle barometers) are basic sensors that count the number of cyclists moving through a particular location, showing how busy a certain area is for cyclists. 

“Pedestrians and cyclists are important roadway users who are being accounted for in terms of increasing safety on America’s roadways,” said ATSSA Director of New Programs Brian Watson, who participated in the technical tour while attending the 2018 ITS World Congress. “ATSSA has taken note and supports various emerging initiatives being made to increase roadway safety for all road users.”

Watson said the association is currently disseminating information on the latest efforts being made to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety including its upcoming case study publication, “Improving Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety at Signalized Intersections.” The new case study specifically addresses a concern that was addressed at ATSSA’s 2018 Circle of Innovation event, which brings state transportation officials and roadway traffic control device manufactures and installers together to discuss solutions to issues related to roadway safety. ATSSA’s new publication and its participation in the ITS tour are just a few examples of how the association is addressing pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Another aspect of the tour included LED lane lights that illuminate when a cyclist is present. These lights help alert drivers to be aware of their surroundings, work at night, and are specifically geared to drivers making right turns at intersections. 

Pavement markings and signals also play a major role in cyclist safety in Copenhagen. Large blue lanes at every intersection remind drivers that cyclists are always present. Bike lanes were clearly delineated and marked with the pedicyclist icons throughout the city. Each intersection had its own cyclist signals used in the same manner as for automobile drivers.

The “I Bike CPH” mobile app also offers ITS services to its users, and how the open source app collects bicycle data like travel times and supports traffic management for cyclists.

The tour highlighted different approaches to cyclist safety between the United States and Denmark. Between 2005 and 2016, Copenhagen invested over $200 million in cycling related infrastructure. Their fatality rates are lower than most countries and bikes now outnumber cars in Copenhagen. With the right mix of technology and infrastructure investment there is an opportunity to make U.S. roads safer for all vulnerable road users, including cyclists.

 

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