Impact Analysis of Rainfall on Traffic Flow Characteristics in Beijing

  • Weiwei Zhang
  • Ruimin LiEmail author
  • Pan Shang
  • Hao Liu


To improve traffic operations and management under inclement weather, this work quantificationally investigated the influence of rainfall on the traffic flow characteristics of urban expressways in Beijing. Four basic traffic flow models (Greenshields model, Greenberg model, Underwood model, and Drake function model) were compared to determine the most suitable model for the detected data, which were collected by microwave detectors in the Beijing 2nd and 4thring expressway under normal or rainfall condition. Results showed that the Greenshields model was the best-fitted model. Under rainfall conditions, varying degrees of reductions were observed in the road capacity, free-flow speed, and speed at capacity. The findings also showed that the reductions of road capacity were 7.26%, 10.87%, and 17.09%, and the reductions of free-flow speed were 3.07%, 5.29%, and 6.64% under light rain, medium rain, and heavy rain, respectively. The reductions of speed at capacity revealed a similar tendency as that of the free-flow speed. Simultaneously, a new model that incorporated rainfall intensity is proposed on the basis of the Greenshields model and can achieve good performance. Overall, the results are beneficial for traffic managers in improving their decisions and predictions under rainfall weather.


Urban road Traffic flow characteristics Rainfall weather Updated Greenshields model 



The authors are grateful to the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71361130015), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (8162024), and the Collaborative Innovation Center for Capital World City’s Smooth Traffic Construction for sponsoring and supporting this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weiwei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruimin Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pan Shang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hao Liu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Hang Lung Center for Real EstateTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Beijing Transportation Information CenterBeijingChina

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