Monitoring of the Main Effects of Rush Hour Lanes in the Netherlands
Robert in 't Veld, CTN, Ministry of Transport, NL
The Dutch government tries to achieve reliable and short travel time. One way is to design rush hour lanes within the given width of the road. The paper focuses on the effects of those lanes on aspects as traffic flow and traffic safety.
The central government in the Netherlands tries to achieve reliable and short travel time, for instance by shortening traffic jams. To reach that policy objective three ways are followed: to make better use of the existing roads (enhanced efficiency in the utilisation of road capacity), to let the users to pay for usage when capacity is scarce (i.e. the User Pays principle) and to build new roads (only when the need is proven).
The third way contains, besides regular road extensions, the design of rush hour lanes within the given width of the road. Besides hard shoulder running in other cases the policy measure involves the creation of an additional narrow rush lane on the other side of the motorway (the left side in the Netherlands).
Since 2003 the Netherlands has a special law to speed up the decision-making process. This law concerns 30 projects.
The developments on those routes where the lanes concerning these projects have been designed are being monitored thoroughly. Aspects considered are traffic flow and traffic safety.
Besides measurements with technical means, road users are questioned about their experience and their opinions about driving on rush hour lanes. Because of the political statement that traffic safety must remain at least the same when applying rush hour lanes, realisation of these lanes must be combined with measurements like traffic signalisation, a lower speed limit and a special application of incident management.
In the paper the results of the research into the main effects of rush hour lanes will be presented. There will also be references to other research findings from the Netherlands concerning these lanes.
The overall conclusion is that, on almost all realised rush hour lanes, traffic congestion (specified by vehicle loss hours) has diminished significantly. The decrease varies from 11% till 91%.
Traffic safety (specified by the number of accidents with injuries) on the routes with existing rush hour lanes and with those that still need to be constructed has decreased a little bit more than on the whole network of main roads in the Netherlands (13% in stead of 12%).
And last but not the least, a good majority (about 70%) of road users has a positive opinion about the flow of the traffic on rush hour lanes and almost the half of them (about 40%) considers the lanes as safe.
Association for European Transport