Freeway Traffic OscillationsObservations and Predictions [chapter]

2002 Transportation and Traffic Theory in the 21st Century  
Freeway traffic was observed over multiple days and was found to display certain regular features. Oscillations arose only in queues; they had periods of several minutes; and their amplitudes stabilized as they propagated upstream. They propagated at a nearly constant speed of about 22 to 24 kilometers per hour, independent of the location within the queues and the flow measured there; this was observed for a number of locations and for queued flows ranging from about 2,000 to 850 vehicles per
more » ... our per lane. The effects of the oscillations were not felt downstream of the bottleneck. Thus, the only effect on upstream traffic was that a queue's tail meandered over time by small amounts. (For the long queues studied here, the tails deviated by no more than about 16 vehicle spacings, as compared with predictions that ignored the oscillations). Notably, the character of queued traffic at fixed locations did not change with time, despite the oscillations; i.e., traffic did not decay. There were changes over space, however. New oscillations formed in moderately dense queues near ramp interchanges and then grew to their full amplitudes while propagating upstream, even though the range of wave speeds was narrow. The formations of these new oscillations are strongly correlated with vehicle lane changing. But this pattern of formation and growth was less evident in a very dense queue (caused by an incident), although frequent lane changing occurred near the interchanges. It thus appears that the oscillations were triggered by random lane changing in moderately dense queues more than by car-following effects. Finally, kinematic wave theory was found to describe the propagation of the oscillations to within small errors. For distances approaching one kilometer, and for 2-hour periods, the theory predicted the locations of vehicles to within about 5 vehicle spacings. Further analysis showed that some of these small discrepancies are explained by differences in car-following behavior across drivers.
doi:10.1016/b978-008043926-6/50034-8 fatcat:dlbuhvn4prdepkkxncidwoytda