Traffic planners 'forget people'

January 9, 1998

Traffic planners must find ways of canvassing the views of people unable or unwilling to move about freely, a Napier University researcher has urged.

Julian Hine, of Napier's transport research institute, believes transport planning techniques are flawed in that they record current activity in the streets, favouring fit independent people. This perpetuates the difficulties faced by children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

He said: "Planning techniques are based on levels of traffic flow. We forget about the people who have to negotiate the road. But these groups internalise the traffic problems and their choice is constrained because they won't go out. They go through a whole set of decision-making processes that we don't understand, like asking: 'When do I go out, where do I cross the road?'' Dr Hine wants questionnaires and interviews to target people in their homes to find out what they need to gain more independence. His research has revealed that the elderly in particular are often afraid to cross the road because they feel drivers will not stop, or that the time allowed for crossing is too short.

He suggests that solutions could include traffic light control creating larger gaps in the traffic, road humps to reduce vehicles' speed, or more pedestrian refuges in the centre of the carriageway.

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