The importance of traffic modelling in active travel planning

lea bridge road traffic modelling

The importance of traffic modelling in active travel planning

As the Government looks to gradually ease the coronavirus lockdown and open the economy, there is concern on how people can safely commute to work, shop and carry out their normal day to day activities. It is expected that capacity on public transport will continue to run at a dramatically reduced rate due to social distancing and where possible people are encouraged to walk or cycle.

To accommodate this, local authorities up and down the country are looking at reallocating road space to pedestrians and cyclists, which will reduce the existing road network capacity.

We sit down (virtually) with Ebenezer Harris, our Principal Traffic Modeller, to find out how traffic modelling is used to design schemes that encourage active travel…

With a considerable number of people now driving to work to avoid public transport, drivers could experience an increase in traffic and delays particularly at junctions. In addition, existing signal timings will not be appropriate for the changes in traffic conditions.

Traffic modelling should play a key part in helping highway authorities deliver schemes to accommodate active travel. Such activities could include:

  • Signal timing reviews at key junctions to cope with changes in traffic demand. This is a low-cost measure which does not involve infrastructure or hardware changes and can easily be implemented. The signal timing review will help establish the optimised timings for the junctions due to the changes in the traffic pattern and help minimise congestion/pollution.
  • Traffic modelling to support changes to junction design to accommodate more cycling and walking. For example, by extending Advanced Stop Lines and widening pedestrian crossings at traffic lights the existing clearance and green time proportions will need to change.
  • A review of signal and standalone staggered crossings in response to an increase in pedestrian flows. Most junctions with signal controlled staggered crossing facilities will not be compliant as the central islands will not be wide enough to accommodate the increase in pedestrian flows nor the 2m social distancing rule. Straight across facilities are recommended.
  • Traffic modelling to help determine the appropriate timings at junctions and crossings if traffic signals are automated (as in Sydney CBD) to allow pedestrians to cross the road without having to press the button, as a way of combating the spread of COVID–19.
  • Review of junctions with high cycle times to avoid prolonged waiting times for pedestrians and hence avoid people congregating at the crossings instead of distancing themselves.
  • Signal changes to promote green coordination for pedestrians instead of vehicular traffic.

Project Centre has a dedicated traffic modelling team to help local authorities in implementing all or some of the above traffic signal measures to help local authorities in promoting active and safe travel during this period. We are currently supporting and designing a number of measures for local authorities, including Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, the Royal Boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Windsor & Maidenhead.

Please get in touch if you have any queries.