Monday, September 01, 2014

Mapping the Bicycle Level of Traffic Stress in Your Community

In 2011 the Mineta Transportation Institute released the report "Low-Stress Bicycling and
Network Connectivity". It examined the practicality of a bicycling network being defined as "a set of streets and paths that people consider acceptably safe for bicycling". These streets already exist and in urbanized areas actually comprise the majority of streets. The problems lies in the lack of connectivity of these mostly local streets.

The resulting model is called Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) and it categorizes all streets, and intersections into 4 levels of bicyclists comfort :
LTS 1 suitable for children
LTS 2 acceptable to traffic intolerant adult (interested but concerned)
LTS 3 OK for experienced bicyclists (enthused and confident).
LTS 4 Highest Stress (strong and fearless)

After the jump find out how you can create a simplified LTS assessment for your own community on Google Maps
As you can see in the presentation, there are some variables that need to be looked to create a good LTS map. But you can quickly rate the most of the roads in your area by referencing this chart.

Create a Stress Map:

  • Open up Google Maps Engine Lite 
  • Zoom in to your municipality or neighborhood.
  • Click on "Untitled Layer" in Engine Lite and rename it "High Stress Roads". Trace over the major roads, these are the generally county and state roads.  Trace one street at a time and name each one.
  • Mouse over your streets and change the color of the lines based on the criteria above 
  • LTS-4 = Red LTS 3= Orange
    LTS 2 = Blue LTS 1 = Green
  • You can thicken to lines by using the "Line Width" slider
  • Use Street View in Google Maps if you need to check the speed limit or lane configuration. Speed limit signs are often located just past major intersections.
  • With the high stress streets mapped entered create a new layer - Low Stress Streets
  • Trace over local streets, you do not have to trace over every street, but you should highlight streets that provide linear routes.
  • Trace any trails or pedestrian bridges.
  • Optionally you could add a third layer that highlights destinations (Schools, train station, shopping centers etc.)
  • Send a us a link to your map in the comments section or tag them #njbikelts on twitter. We plan on consolidating all the maps we receive at a later date.

Your map could help start a discussion on prioritizing improvements. The map of Edgewater Park Township shows that many of the residential streets are low stress, but most of the services require access to higher stress roadways, especially on the west side. Making a few key improvements such as extending and improving the bike path through Weinman Sports Field (green area near the middle school and the police station) to Lakeside Lane can connect more people to destinations and encourage more bicycle trips.


John said...

Andrew J. Besold said...

Prof. Furth published this idea before I could. I was thinking about this concept years ago in grad school when I started to think about how a vast majority of the (residential) streets in my town are already perfectly safe for cycling.