Queue discharge patterns at signalized intersections with green signal countdown device and long cycle length

K. Tang, K. Dong, Edward Chin Shin Chung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Two apparent features that prevail at signalized intersections in China are green signal countdown device and long cycle lengths. The objective of this study is to investigate the impacts of green signal countdown device and long cycle length on queue discharge patterns and to discuss its implications on capacity estimation in the context of China's traffic. At five typical large intersections in Shanghai and Tianjin, 11 through lanes were observed, and 9251 saturation headways were obtained as valid samples. Statistical analyses indicate that the discharge process of queuing vehicles can be divided into three distinct stages according to the discharge flow rate: a start-up stage, a steady stage, and a rush stage. The average time for queuing vehicles to reach a stationary saturation flow rate, that is, the start-up stage, was found to be approximately 20-30 seconds; the rush stage usually occurs during the phase transition period. The finding is contrary to the conventional assumption that the discharge rate reaches a maximum value after the fourth vehicle is discharged and then remains constant during the green time until the queue is completely dissolved. The capacity estimation errors that might arise from the conventional methods are discussed through a comparative study and a sensitivity analysis that are based on the identified queue discharge patterns. In addition, a piecewise linear regression method was proposed in order to reduce such errors. The proposed method can be used for capacity estimation at signalized intersections with the identified queue discharge patterns. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2100-2115
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Advanced Transportation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • capacity estimation
  • green signal countdown device
  • long cycle length
  • queue discharge pattern
  • saturation flow rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Strategy and Management

Cite this