Improved Access to Cities Through Travel Information a Full Colour Information Panel

Improved Access to Cities Through Travel Information a Full Colour Information Panel


M Dicke-Ogenia, Goudappel Coffeng, NL; K A Brookhuis, Delft University of Technology and University of Groningen, NL


A series of experiments to develop a successful design for travel information over a road that helps distribute traffic over available routes. The designs take into account social psychological principles and cognitive ergonomic guidelines.


During rush hour periods, and particularly during special events such as concerts, soccer matches, or annual fairs, there is always a considerable risk of congestion. As a result of peak congestion, accessibility of towns is decreased. Peaks in congestion can be reduced through an optimal distribution of cars over the available routes. To facilitate such optimal distributions, travellers need to be informed about travel conditions and alternative travel options. However, even if an alternative route or travel mode may be beneficial for travellers in terms of travel time or travel costs, travellers may ignore the information or may be reluctant to change their behaviour. Therefore, the provision of travel information should aim at encouraging the traveller to change route or mode.

The municipality of The Hague (the Netherlands) installed a Full Colour Information Panel (FCIP) above the A12, where this motorway enters The Hague. An FCIP can be seen as a next-generation of Graphical Route Information Panel (GRIP). Just like the GRIP, an FCIP can display the travel network's structure graphically including dynamic travel time and information on traffic congestion (colour coded according to severity). In addition, by using an FCIP, the information (including the presentation of the road network) can be adapted at any time.

We examined how information should be presented by means of a Full Colour Information Panel (FCIP) in order to be more persuasive and to improve accessibility of the city. Therefore, we developed a design for persuasive travel information that helps change route or travel mode. This design was based on two assumptions. First, each step during information-processing should be completed successfully in order to result in a change of behaviour. Second, the probability that a traveller completes an information-processing step successfully may be increased by taking into account cognitive ergonomic guidelines and social psychological principles (e.g. habit, uncertainty, attitudes) on decision making. For example, uncertainty concerning the destination of an alternative route may be reduced by presenting graphically on an FCIP that both routes lead to the same destination.

A series of experiments was conducted to develop and test a successful design for an FCIP. We started with cognitive ergonomic experiments in the laboratory to test the form of a road map and methods of displaying congestion on the road map by means of colour. Furthermore, we tested how the design could take into account social psychological principles. In each subsequent experiment, participants were placed in a setting reflecting a situation closer to reality. For example, various FCIP designs were incorporated into a movie shot from a moving vehicle. As a result, participants watching the movie had the same view as car drivers on a motorway, seeing the FCIP as they would a normal traffic sign. In a subsequent experiment, an improved version of an FCIP was shown while participants were driving in a driving simulator. A final design for an FCIP was tested twice in a real setting throughout a four-day fireworks festival that was held in the suburb of Scheveningen.

Our results show that the FCIP succeeded in attracting the attention of drivers, who found it easy to read and understand. The type and quantity of information provided did not lead to any confusion or misunderstanding. In that sense, this study has resulted in a suitable standard for this type of information provision.
Concerning the social psychological principles we integrated in our design, we found that our design may decrease the negative effects of uncertainty. However, habit was difficult to break.
The FCIP had a modest effect on route choice. It was shown that around 10% of the travellers changed their route. Although this seems a relatively small number, the effects on traffic flow may be relatively large. Travellers who changed their route were mostly those who left home without a travel plan. Subsequently, travellers who have planned their trip towards an event rarely change their plan. Furthermore, travellers who made use of the Park and Ride (P+R) facility indicated that they were not influenced by the information on the FCIP but had chosen this option before they left home. The FCIP was helpful for them as it provided information concerning the position of the P+R facility.

The research reported in this abstract was conducted within the AMICI-project, part of the Dutch program ?Verkeer en Vervoer? (Traffic and Transport) funded by Connekt/NWO.


Association for European Transport