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sts.components.contact.mr.placeholder Sebastian Webel
Mr. Sebastian Webel

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Pictures of the Future
The Magazine for Research and Innovation
 

Urban Mobility

New App Helps Cities Prioritize Cyclists

The phenomenon Germans call the Grüne Welle, or "green wave", has become an everyday occurrence in big cities, thanks to ingenious traffic control systems. Cyclists, however, constantly have to put on the brakes for red phases. Now, those days are over. A new smartphone app from Siemens could make city traffic a lot more bike friendly.

A new app developed by Siemens literally gives cyclists a green light. The solution could help cities prioritize bike traffic along certain routes. Their aim: Make cycling more attractive and thus reduce motorized traffic and related emissions.

SiBike, a smartphone app from Siemens, could make city traffic a lot more bike friendly. Cyclists can use it to trigger a wave of green traffic lights. The cyclist’s smartphone determines his or her position and speed via GPS. If the bike passes a specific, virtual trigger point near a traffic light at a predetermined speed, the app reports this to a traffic control center. The traffic light is then set to green or the green phase is extended to ensure that the cyclist can pass. SiBike enables cities to prioritize cyclists along certain routes or within individual quarters. The system is simple to implement and requires no additional hardware. All that changes is how the traffic lights are programmed.

SiBike, a smartphone app from Siemens, could make city traffic a lot more bike friendly. Cyclists can use it to trigger a wave of green traffic lights.

Making Life Easier for Cyclists

City traffic today is often designed to primarily serve motorists. One example is what Germans call the “Grüne Welle” or green wave. It is achieved by setting a series of traffic lights so that cars travelling at a specific speed, are whisked through one intersection after another without having to wait. Green waves reduce unnecessary braking and acceleration maneuvers and thus make a proven contribution to reducing fine particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions. In most cases, green waves are based on average car speeds, and therefore offer little benefit to slower bicycle traffic.

The cyclist’s smartphone determines his or her position and speed via GPS.

Many cities today are promoting bicycles as means of transport, aiming to relieve congested roads and thus reduce noise and emissions. SiBike can now help them make cycling more attractive by offering cyclists a green wave, thus giving them priority within certain areas.

Making Life Easier for Cyclists

In a first step, routes already preferred by cyclists would primarily benefit from the new feature. Most cities have such streets – side roads or the areas around universities. Traffic lights along such roads, however, are not timed according to demand and thus cyclists pile up at red lights while relatively few of cars race by.

Some cities want to go even further. Their vision is to give bikes priority even on major traffic arteries connecting suburbs and a city centers. These areas too could benefit from SiBike to create a dense network of cycle paths and thus improve public health and air quality while reducing noise.

Christine Rüth