A new planning tool, developed by the UK’s Road Safety Foundation, is being launched to help local authorities model the variables that make active travel safer, more enjoyable and less stressful.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to changes in travel habits, with millions of people opting for shorter daily journeys, often on foot or by bicycle. The UK government has set up an Active Travel Fund (ATF) to meet these new demands, with £200 million earmarked for new walking and cycling programs as part of an overall commitment to invest in active programmes. Development of the Road Safety Foundation modeling tool is funded by a grant from the Road Safety Trust, to help UK local authorities determine which ATF facilities work best to make walking and cycling safer.
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“Increasing levels of active travel has environmental and health benefits, but to achieve truly healthy mobility it must also be safe and feel safe,” says Kate Fuller, Director of Engineering at the Road Safety Foundation. “Cyclists and pedestrians are known as vulnerable road users for good reason: the fragility of the human body is evident when sharing the same space as motorized traffic. This tool helps assess which different types of pedestrians and cyclists would feel comfortable using a particular road with different equipment. Making active travel more appealing can also release pent-up demand and help more people make the switch.
The Road Safety Foundation has worked in partnership with the county councils of Kent, Hampshire, West Sussex, Staffordshire and Warwickshire as well as Transport for Greater Manchester to develop an interactive demonstration tool to assess the performance of different facilities in terms of iRAP (The International Road Rating Programme) Star rating and level of traffic stress.
Road authorities are invited to join the Road Safety Foundation in a tool demo webinar between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Friday 24 June, and the modeling tool will be made available for widespread use free of charge .
“We’ve already received great feedback from local authorities who were involved in the early stages of development,” says Fuller of the Road Safety Foundation. “We look forward to building on the success of the Safer Roads Fund in our work with authorities, continuing to help achieve the best possible results to make their roads safer.”
“Understanding risk and stress together allows us to address perceptions of safety, which will help increase the adoption and acceptability of active travel modes,” says Stewart Fowler, Intelligence Team Leader and road safety innovations for Kent County Council. “The tool is simple to use, offers a concise and very useful visual output; comparable and evidence-based assessment. safety and active travel to ensure that risks and stress are considered as part of program prioritization.
Images: Adobe Stock.