As urban growth leads to society progressively becoming more urbanised, the challenge of balancing the needs of different transport users becomes more complex. Too often, pedestrians are overlooked by a desire to move more people as fast as possible as far as possible. Once people reach central city areas and start walking, the urban environment tends to be defined by wide busy roads that can be intimidating and difficult to cross.
The traditional approach to road management has been to only focus on improving the carrying capacity relating to vehicles, with an emphasis towards maximising the speed and volume of motorised traffic that can move around the network. This approach overlooks the economic and environmental benefits of allowing urban areas to become more pedestrian and cycle friendly. One could argue that central city areas should be viewed as a ‘destination’ for people, rather than as another part of the network that should be optimised to move vehicles somewhere else.
Walking is a sustainable mode of travel. Most journeys involve a walking component, regardless of whether the main portion of the trip is made by foot, car, or using public transport. In New Zealand, around 40 percent of short journeys (less than 2 km) are made entirely on foot and most trips (or trip-chains) include a walking component as some part of the journey, particularly in urban areas, where door-to-door journeys are unrealistic. A key issue of any pedestrian trip is the ability to safely and efficiently cross roads. It is estimated that pedestrians make 2.4 billion road crossings each year in New Zealand, and yet the efficiency with which these crossings are made is very rarely considered.
Recent research sponsored by the NZTA has focused on reducing pedestrian delays. This research project focused on a number of intersections in central city areas of Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. Micro-simulation models were developed to model pedestrian and vehicle delays during the ‘lunchtime’ 12pm to 1:30 pedestrian peak periods.
This paper outlines the case study sites considered in the research and the benefits that were modelled, with a view to improving “per person” delay in order to provide a more balanced use of the network. The paper also gives an overview of findings looking at international best practice as well as responses from New Zealand pedestrians surveyed to identify public attitudes toward pedestrian issues.
This paper also discusses how improving the ways we collect and analyse traffic data could improve the way we think about pedestrians.
Chris Vallyon has eight year’s experience working with traffic and transport performance metrics. As a project manager and Senior Transport Analyst at Beca he is involved in developing and providing performance metrics for a range of issues, including congestion monitoring, policy development, multimodal corridors, corridor optimisation, capital works projects, before and after studies, and real time traveller information.
He has a particular interest in introducing and implementing Intelligent Transport Systems, including number plate recognition, Bluetooth, side-mounted radar, etc. He is passionate about all forms of transport. As a pedestrian, he walks to and from work every day. firstname.lastname@example.org