Assessing the impact of city traffic bans

The issue of air pollution has been in the headlines recently, not least because of the Extinction Rebellion protests around the country during October. Many cities are looking for ways to improve air pollution, and the most obvious way to do that is to reduce traffic – surveys show that banning diesel vehicles in particular will have a positive impact and Bristol has already announced a plan to do that.

This follows the longer-term implementation of the Congestion Charge Zone in central London and the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the same city which, in a report on its early effect, found that the number of heavily-polluting vehicles driving into the zone had ‘fallen sharply’, with around 9,400 fewer vehicles on the road each day – a drop of around 26%.

Traffic surveys to measure reduction

Usually, traffic surveys are required in order to measure particularly congested areas, producing clear and accurate data for organisations who need to re-design existing roadways or build new ones. However, they can equally be used to measure a reduction in traffic where new schemes have been introduced either to reduce congestion or to improve air quality.

These surveys can distinguish between different types of vehicle, so that you can see what types of vehicle are using the roads less, and which types you are seeing more of. A comprehensive survey might include information on cyclists, pedestrians and public transport as well as the numbers of standard vehicles on the road. This then gives planners, developers and environmental service departments the information they need to see how innovative policies are working and what can be done to change or further improve things.

To compare data properly, a traffic survey should be completed before any measures are introduced. It might even be worthwhile conducting several over a period leading up to change, so that there is clear evidence of the volume of traffic in different areas or routes into the city. Once the new rules are in place and road users have got used to the new system, a further survey can be carried out to provide comparative data.

Traffic surveys from RDS

To find out more about benchmarking and comparative surveys, or to see how we can package our services to provide a comprehensive survey option, just contact us today.

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