Cycling for science at Ahoy

Last April, a large-scale cycling experiment was held in Ahoy Rotterdam as part of the ALLEGRO project to get insight into cycling behaviour. PhD candidates Alexandra Gavriilidou and Marie-Jette Wierbos are studying cycling behaviour on an individual and an aggregate level, respectively, and both encountered the problem of limited available data. Therefore, they decided to join forces to design and organise a large-scale experiment which would result in a large dataset of cycling movements that fits both research interests. With the help of associate professor Winnie Daamen, the researchers designed an experimental set-up with different traffic situations. The track layout consisted of two oval-shaped paths of 2m wide, which partially overlapped and it included a narrowing to create a bottleneck where cyclists had to reduce speed. This track design ensured that different types of  behaviour could be studied, such as priority allocation when crossing or merging, congestion patterns at the narrowing. On straight stretches, cycling movements would be captured, covering overtaking behaviour and cycling in pairs.

On the day of the experiment, in total 200 cyclists were invited to cycle for science in Ahoy Rotterdam. This location was selected for two reasons. First of all, the location needed to be indoors so a stable monitoring environment would be safeguarded, meaning no rain or light changes due to partially clouded weather. Secondly, the area needed to be sufficiently large to fit the track (100m x 40m) and the ceiling needed to be sufficiently high to enable the recording of cyclists from above. The participants were selected to create two groups. The morning group brought different bike types, such as electrical, racing and regular bikes, whereas the afternoon group consisted primarily of regular bikes. No other selection criteria was used, resulting in a varied group of participants between 17 and 89 years old.

In total 8 cameras were connected to the 10m-high ceiling of Ahoy, covering the complete track. With a duration of the experiment of approximately 8 hours of cycling movements, the 64-hours dataset will enable Alexandra and Marie-Jette to come to many scientific insights in their future work. Already, before looking at the camera images, the effort of organising the experiment has led to a scientific contribution in bicycle research. A paper on the set-up and implementation of this large-scale experiment will be presented at 89th Annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington D.C. in January 2019.

Picture by TU Delft/Frank Auperlé

For the story of science see:

Crowd Limits Experiment

On the 5th and 6th of June, two large-scale controlled pedestrian experiments were performed as part of the ALLEGRO project. The goal of these two experiments was to get insight into the following question: If, how, when, where and under which conditions do pedestrian flows stagnate in a corridor with a bidirectional flow or in a two-way crossing?

The experiments took place at the TU Delft campus, whereby during the two evenings about 140 people ranging in age from 18-70 participated. During the first evening, the experiments with the bidirectional flow through a corridor were done whilst on the second evening the crossing experiments were performed. To accommodate the experiments, one of the large exam halls of the TU Delft was transformed to be used as the site of the experiments. Large, 2 meter high, wooden obstacles were used to construct the corridor and the crossing. Multiple cameras were attached to the ceiling of the hall to record the movements of all participants whilst they were walking through the corridor or crossing. To ensure that the movements of the participants would be captured well by the cameras, they all wore white t-shirts and a red cap, distributed to them at the start of the experiment. The caps also contained a unique pattern which enables tracking of individuals and hence individual behaviour. Also, stickers on the t-shirt, located at the shoulders, enable tracking of the upper-body movements.

During both evenings, about 12 runs were performed using different flow ratios and different sets of assignments that the participants had to follow. A total of 6 combinations (two different flow ratios and three different sets of assignments) were tested, whereby every combination was run twice. Overall, this has led to multiple hours of video data which is currently being processed to extract trajectories. As soon as this process is finished, analysis of the data will start.

Picture by TU Delft/Frank Auperlé

For the story of science see:

Cycling experiment: participants needed / Fietsexperiment: deelnemers gezocht

Would you like to have some cycling exercise, make a contribution to science, or simply have a nice day off? Come and participate in a large-scale cycling experiment on April 25 in Ahoy, Rotterdam! You can register here. For more information about the experiment, click here.

Fiets u graag? Wilt de wetenschap en stapje verder helpen? Of gewoon een leuk dagje uit? Doe dan mee aan een grootschalig fietsexperiment op 25 april in Ahoy, Rotterdam! Aanmelden kan via deze link. Voor meer informatie over het experiment, klik hier.


Impression of workshop Active Mode Mobility: discussing relevance of scientific research for policy and practice

Held on September 7, 2016.

In 2015, AMS Institute and TU Delft have started a new scientific programme to unravel pedestrian and cyclist flows in cities coined ALLEGRO. After a successful two-day starting conference organised last year, we now took the opportunity to present and discuss the plans and results so far. The participants were (among others) the municipalities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, KIM, the engineering offices Goudappel Coffeng and Royal Haskoning DHV and the universities of Eindhoven and Delft. This diverse group of both practitioners and scientists has stimulated a fruitful discussion and interesting chats after the presentations of the ALLEGRO team. The location of this workshop was AMS, the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions, an institute in which science, education, government, business partners and societal organisations are working tightly together to create solutions for complex challenges in metropolitan areas. Exactly the challenge ALLEGRO stands for.

The ALLEGRO programme deals with Active Mode Mobility from a variety of perspectives. While developing new theories and models for the behaviour of pedestrians and cyclists in cities is the core of the project, the programme aims to contribute to practice and policy as well. Almost all ALLEGRO researchers by now have started their research, and many of the projects have already resulted in very interesting and relevant results.

Presentations were given by:
Serge Hoogendoorn (chairman) – Introduction
Dorine Duives – Active Mode Urban Data Laboratory and its applications
Vincent Gong – Collecting social media data for the AM-UML and its applications
Tim van Oijen – Using apps for data collection and information provision
Florian Schneider – Empirical analysis of active mode route and activity choices
Winnie Daamen on behalf of Yufei Yuan & Bernat Goñi Ros – Modelling traffic operations
Flurin Hänseler – Modelling and estimation of pedestrian flows in train stations
Danique Ton & Lara Zomer – Theory and modelling for active mode mobility
Xiaochen Ma – Access and Egress
Ilse Galama – Design of active mode networks
Winnie Daamen on behalf of Haneen Farah – Introduction into the microscopic modelling project
Victor Knoop – Introduction into the macroscopic modelling project

The programme covered different themes, data collection and analyses, modelling, and theory formulation. After each presentation, a designated member of the audience gave feedback, consisting of both questions and suggestions for further research directions. The latter was especially helpful for the PhD students who just started, but gave all researchers an idea of the needs and desires of the practitioners. At the end of each session, feedback and discussion was initiated for the other members of the audience. Given the highly relevant research topic and the interesting results, the lively discussions continued during the breaks and during the final drinks.

All in all, we can conclude that this was a very fruitful day, with valuable information exchange between researchers and practitioners. We are looking forward to the next occasion!

Controlled Cyclist experiment

On the 10th of May, a controlled experiment to study cycling behaviour was performed. This experiment collected bicycle trajectory data in unhindered and interacting situations to get insight into cyclist behaviour. The resulting datasets can be used to study interaction behaviour of cyclist flows, to calibrate the newly-developed cyclist model, to validate and develop new/improved theories of cyclist behaviour, and to facilitate other related bicyclist research.

This experiment, part of the ALLEGRO project, was supported by 4 master students, 12 experiment participants and colleagues from the Transport and Planning laboratory of TU Delft. It took place at the Berlageweg – a bicycle path – intersected with the main bicycle path in front of the CiTG building at the TU Delft campus. Participants conducted predefined manoeuvres under unhindered and interacting situations. In the unhindered situation, participants started, stopped, and cycled as they liked. In the interacting situations, cyclists were overtaking or they had face-to-face encounters. The experiment was recorded with video cameras located above the experiment area. All bicycles were similar OV-bikes, so only the behaviour of the cyclist was observed, not the behaviour of the bike. Each participant was equipped with identifiers (coloured hats, number tabs, etc.) for video capturing and monitoring purposes, so they could be recognised in the video footage. Now extracting trajectory data from video footages is in progress.

Pictures by TU Delft/Frank Auperlé:

Fieldwork to unravel urban cognition

Imagine you would be standing in front of the train station in Delft and you need to go to a larger supermarket, do you know the one that is most close to you, preferably in meters and minutes? Most likely you are mistaken, or your perceived distance or travel time is different from the real ones. Did you know that the direct distance to the Aldi at the Westlandseweg is shorter than to the Jumbo at Bastiaansplein? Many travel behaviour models (incorrectly) assume that people do have perfect information about the urban environment.

After several weeks of piloting, this Thursday a team of ALLEGRO and department of Transport and Planning collected surveys at the Beestenmarkt (Delft). Citizens, visitors and tourists were asked to state their perceived distance and direction between several locations within Delft.
After processing and analysing the data, the results will help us to quantify urban cognition by assessing people’s perception of space, which is different from the real environment. As part of the ERC project lead by Serge Hoogendoorn on ‘unrAveLLing active modE travellinG and tRaffic’, we hope to integrate our findings into travel models to make them a bit more (ir)rational.




Successful pilot test at Kingsday of the Active mode Monitoring System

During Kingsday (the 27th of April) we performed a second pilot test in Amsterdam regarding the crowd monitoring dashboard that is being developed by the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions in collaboration with the Delft University of Technology. This dashboard is developed within the research project ALLEGRO: an ERC project lead by Serge Hoogendoorn on ‘unrAveLLing active modE travellinG and tRaffic’.

During the day, the live dashboard displayed the in- and outflow and the route split information of pedestrian flows near Amsterdam Central Station and station Amsterdam Zuid-WTC. The input for the dashboard was formed by several data feeds 11 counting cameras and 22 WiFi sensors being combined to create the output of the dashboard. Besides that, an analysis performed on social media streams (e.g Instagram and Twitter) which enabled the identification of relevant events (e.g. parties) taking place during the day; the combination of social data and data about pedestrian flows and routes allows a rich characterisation of activities in the city.

Overall the pilot has been a great success! During the day, the dashboard has been available in the control room, and its outputs have been available for municipality, police and public transport operators. Phenomena shown on the dashboard have been confirmed by crowd managers on the spot. For now we are studying the results of the day, and continue to work towards adding and fusing these and other data sources in order to create rich insights into the development of the flow of active modes through urban environments.


April 14: Innovation Expo with the AMS Institute

Together with the AMS Institue (Advanced Metropolitan Solutions), who is co-funding the ALLEGRO project, the ALLEGRO team will represent the slow mode research area at a stand at the Innovation Expo in Amsterdam. During this Expo, the ALLEGRO team and the AMS Institute will demonstrate their methodologies to collect data and monitor crowds, related to the real-time crowd monitoring during the SAIL event in Amsterdam in the summer of 2015.

Measurements on cyclists will start soon

The Allegro team will start soon doing experiments with cyclists. Using camera’s, cyclist behavior under urban conditions will be analysed. This research is associated with the project theme that deals with development of the Slow Mode Urban Mobility Laboratory (SL-UML). The exact date is now known yet. The team hopes to get useful cyclist trajectory data to be analysed and used within the theoretical parts of the research.