In the current global crisis situation, we are challenged each and every day to examine our existing thinking patterns and make room for new ideas. How can we do this? By playing through scenarios that we never thought possible in order to be prepared for all eventualities.
Who of us would have thought, for example, that we would have to get used to keeping a distance from other people? With pedestrian simulations, it is possible to plan and play through situations clearly with and without social distancing. New mobility scenarios for the future of our cities can take shape in our heads more easily this way.
Creativity during the coronavirus crisis
Necessity is the mother of invention – also with regard to mobility. Thus, for example, the inventor Karl Drais tinkered – after the Napoleonic Wars that raged until 1815 in Europe – with how people could expand their radius even without a horse (after the wars, there were few horses left). This is how he invented the velocipede.
Today we are trying out new approaches and procedures in order to come to better terms with the uncertainties due to the corona crisis.
Should sidewalks be one-way streets for pedestrians?
What initially appears absurd is suddenly worth a serious consideration. For example: Does it make sense to design one-way streets so that there is less person-to-person contact and there are thus fewer possibilities to transmit Covid-19? The apparent answer is yes, since then there is no two-way traffic.
How effective can this be and how quickly would results occur? The biggest effect could be felt if all pedestrians move equally quickly at the right distance from one another and would not pass each other. The model also shows that pedestrian traffic without two-way traffic generally moves faster – a consideration that is interesting to cities even without the coronavirus.
The queue infront of the supermarket
Our existing buildings and infrastructures are not designed for people maintaining social distancing from one another. Therefore, there are unplanned queues where people and cars congregate in critical areas. Traffic jams are created in places where they did not exist previously.
With simulation software it is possible to virtually plan and play through various new scenarios with regard to fever measurement stations and entry rules for supermarkets.
Passengers seated according to their destination?
Transit planners are being asked to adjust local public transit offerings to current conditions. Their challenge is to meet demand fluctuations and to plan sensible measures that do justice to the requirements of social distancing.
That is why Dr.-Ing. Klaus Bogenberger, Professor of Traffic Engineering at the TU Munich, approached PTV’s modeling experts with the following request: “I am interested in whether the PTV software can also simulate the effects if tram and subway cars were now filled by their destination stations in order to save walking areas and reduce the number of times where people pass one another where the distance is less than two meters.”
For this, we are considering whether passengers should be guided right from the track and before they embark to the entry doors of the tram or train where they can board and be transported in the cars sorted by destination station.