Link-journey speed estimation for urban arterial performance measurement using advance loop detector data under congested conditions

Yao Jan Wu, Guohui Zhang, Yinhai Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Travel speed ties directly to travel time, so it is an important measure for quantifying arterial performance. However, accurately estimating link travel speed for urban arterials is difficult because of traffic fluctuations and stop-and-go conditions caused by signal control. This research proposes a two-step empirical approach to effectively estimate the link-journey speeds using only advance loop detector outputs. The first step is to estimate the spot speed on the basis of advance loop measurements using Athol's algorithm. The robust regression technique can be used to calibrate the speed estimation parameter (or g-factor) in Athol's algorithm. The second step is to use the proposed simplified speed estimation model to estimate the link speed using only the calculated loop-spot speed without any knowledge of signal timing plans. Traffic operations in the central business district of the City of Bellevue, Washington, are simulated in the VISSIM traffic simulation model. The test results show that only 50 cycles of data are needed to calibrate the g-factor in loop-speed estimation and the same datasets can be used to calibrate the proposed link-speed model. Using this model, the average mean absolute error over the study links is reduced from 4.24 to 1.51 mph. With proper calibration, this average error can be further reduced to 0.91 mph. The results are encouraging and satisfactory. The results also show that the accuracy of speed estimation may be further increased when more data are applied for calibration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1321-1332
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Transportation Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2012


  • Arterial performance measurement
  • Link travel time
  • Link-journey speed (link speed)
  • Loop detector
  • Speed estimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Transportation


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