In Chinese cities, the poor performance of signalised intersections is one of the causes of urban congestion. The reasons for this have been investigated through a comparative study of the saturation flow characteristics on intersections in three Chinese and two Netherlandish cities. The analysis shows that the utilisation of the roads around Chinese intersections is 20-30 worse compared to the Netherlands intersections. The first cause is the long start lag at Chinese intersections, which is mainly brought by the presence of conflicting vehicles and pedestrians at the beginning of the green phase. The further reasons for that phenomenon are the large size of the Chinese intersections and the limited utilisation of the available space. Another cause is the driver behaviour, that is, the long and irregular time headways and sudden lane changing on the observed Chinese intersections. Chinese drivers adapt themselves to the local conditions and behave differently from Dutch drivers, giving a less efficient traffic system. The different driver behaviour in China has the consequence that most microscopic simulation programmes have to be adapted, calibrated and validated for Chinese situations. © 2012 The Institution of Engineering and Technology.
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