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Case Study: Wuhan Implements Model Junction Channelisation for Pedestrians
- China

The World Bank funded Wuhan Urban Transport Project (WUTP) started in 2004 and ended in June 2009. Within the Traffic Management Component, a key element was the implementation of junction channelisation designs which focused on physical islands to channelise traffic and provide safety refuges for pedestrians. The designs aimed to increase efficiency and safety by tightening up junction layouts to reduce vehicle delays and using multi-phase signals to provide pedestrian phases which did not conflict with turning traffic.

Initially, the junction channelisation program did not progress smoothly. Wuhan agencies were not in favor of designs that they perceived would take away road space from motor vehicles. Of 46 physical channelisations at project appraisal, only 26 were implemented within the project. However, it should be noted that 242 non-physical channelisations (using road markings) were implemented within the project and many physical channelisations were implemented outside the project.

Wuhan needed to be convinced that physical channelisation could improve vehicle efficiency. And this has been vividly illustrated at the junction of Jiefang Dadao/Jiefang Gongyuan Lu which the Mayor has declared to be a Model Junction. Here, World Bank experts provided the catalyst for changing the thinking of Wuhan’s transport agencies; the Bank provided not only the financial resources but also – and more crucially – technical support and design ideas. In the end, however, it was local agencies working together who developed the solution.

The junction was a staggered cross-roads under a flyover, similar to the one shown in the photo (see right).

Before, the junction was inefficient and unsafe. There were no clear paths for vehicles to travel through the junction and turning traffic chose their own paths under the flyover piers. Traffic signal stoplines were set far back, resulting in long clearance times. Pedestrians crossing the wide carriageway had no safe refuge in the center and had to negotiate disorderly turning traffic which could occur between any of the flyover piers. The pedestrian phase was not long enough to cross in one stage, so pedestrians became stranded amongst traffic.

The new design proposed by the Wuhan Traffic Police and shown in the (see right) initially met with some resistance from local police brigades. To overcome this, the Traffic Police commissioned the China Management Science Research Institute (CMSRI) – whose capability has been strengthened through WUTP Technical Assistance – to model the proposed design using a micro-simulation program. This showed that the design would not only improve pedestrian safety but would also increase capacity.

The key features of the new design are

  • Physical channelisation (and planting) under the flyover to provide a safe refuge for pedestrians to cross the road in two stages; the vast uncontrolled area under the flyover has been filled in to cater for pedestrians with no loss of capacity for vehicles;
  • Physical islands to channelise turning traffic into short, direct paths to clear the junction quickly;
  • Stoplines brought forward to minimize clearance times;
  • Multi-phase traffic signals with special pedestrian signals (which run in parallel with vehicle signals with no conflict) to enhance efficiency for vehicles and safety for pedestrians. 

Wuhan plans to replicate this model design city-wide.

By Gladys Frame, Consultant Traffic Engineer, 23 June 2009