Every summer black tubes appear on our roads. What are the tubes and what are they for, are two common questions Bannock Transportation Planning Organization receive each year? The black tubes are called “pneumatic road tubes,” and in combination with portable traffic, the counter provides information on traffic volume, speed, and type. One to four pneumatic road tubes are stretched across the road and connected to a portable traffic counter. Traffic counts are taken from one day to several weeks depending on the needs.
The data from the traffic counts are used to report Annual Vehicle Miles Traveled to the Federal Highway Administration; provide information to the regional travel demand model, and to provide other traffic data for the City of Pocatello and Chubbuck. BTPO is not an enforcement agency. The speed data we collect is compiled to determine the mean and 85th percentile speeds. BTPO collects speed for engineering studies or to validate the results of the regional travel demand model.
Sometimes the road tube only crosses one lane of traffic, why is that. BTPO uses a specific counter to count the number of bicycles that are using the road or bicycle lane. Bicycles are determined by the speed of the vehicle and length. Bicycle count data helps determine bicycle facility needs.
What do you do if you see a road tube? Nothing, drive a normal, the more that the traffic represents actual traffic conditions, the better. What is the road tube, not the stretched but is snaking across the road, it has failed, please call BTPO at 208 233-9322? The tubes work by air pressure, so please do not park on them.
Accurate traffic data is critical in determining a regional transportation needs and to plan for future transportation improvements.