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Modeling Bicycle Facility Operation: A Cellular Automaton Approach

UCD-ITS-RP-10-04

January 2010

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Suggested Citation:
Rowangould, Gregory and Alex Karner (2010) Modeling Bicycle Facility Operation: A Cellular Automaton Approach. Transportation Research Record 2140, 157 - 164

Current concerns surrounding regional air pollution, climate change, rising gasoline prices and urban congestion could presage a substantial increase in bicycle mode share. However, state-of-the-art methods for the safe and efficient design of bicycle facilities are based on difficult to collect data and potentially dubious assumptions regarding cyclist behavior. Simulation models offer a way forward, but existing bicycling models in the academic literature have not been validated using actual data. This paper addresses these shortcomings by obtaining real-world bicycle data and implementing a multilane, inhomogeneous cellular automaton simulation model that can reproduce observations. The existing literature is reviewed to inform the data collection and model development. It is found that the model emulates field conditions while possibly under-predicting bike path capacity. Since the simulation model can “observe” individual cyclists, it is ideally suited to determine level of service based on difficult to observe cycling events such as passing. The conclusion suggests future work on data collection and model development.