The times in which city planners could plan a city, e.g. Karlsruhe, on the drawing board as a planned city on open ground, are past. Today, city administrations face the demands and interests of many different groups in urban planning; the space for urban corridors, i.e. important transit routes, is often limited to boot. In order to plan, design, and manage this space, especially on the most important urban thoroughfares, it is necessary to optimally distribute the available capacities in terms of space and time. As part of the MORE research project, 18 European partner organizations and companies have therefore joined forces to provide a comprehensive overview of road space design in Europe.
The objective approach of MORE
The main goal of MORE is to develop a comprehensive and especially objective approach to the planning, design, and management of the existing road space on the most important urban thoroughfares – a basis for solving current and future problems. Another goal is to put city administrations in a position to make the most efficient possible use of the road space available by distributing the existing capacities optimally in terms of space and time. For this purpose, MORE has developed a series of planning instruments with which it is possible to create and test a complete road planning process. “The road is an ecosystem,” says Inga Luchmann, Senior Project Manager at PTV Group, and she explains: “With the new project approach, we are changing the way we see the road space, work with it, and use it. We examine the public space from house wall to house wall, above and below the ground. We have developed the tools with which cities, also with the involvement of citizens in planning processes, can find new design concepts for their road spaces.”
The various interest groups
Many interest groups – with completely different needs – share the existing road space. Therefore, in the project 18 very different European partners were assembled, including five cities, the European Cyclists’ Federation, the International Federation of Pedestrians, and also an advisory council supporting the project, among others with the Gehl-Institut. Luchmann explains: “Precisely this mix of different interests ensured just the right arc of suspense in the project – and in the end, it led to recommendations for action that take all perspectives into account.”
Dynamic simulation of traffic flows in the road space
In order to be able to make any recommendations for action, you must first model the streams and flows of the different user groups of a road space. The microscopic, behavior-based simulation tool PTV Vissim was used for this purpose. It enables the simulation, analysis, and evaluation of traffic flows and interactions between pedestrian flows, bicycles, and public and private traffic. Peter Sukennik, Technical Product Manager at the PTV Group, says: “With the new functions that were developed in the course of MORE, Vissim provides a better modeling of the real world in its whole complexity. It doesn’t just model moving traffic, it offers dynamic and realistic modeling, e.g. of parking, loading, and activities on the side of the road, including the interaction of various road users on the side of the road or on plazas.” The effects of the Corona pandemic on the project were interesting: In addition to shifting the time of project work, fewer in-person meetings, and personnel absences, new distance rules were enabled in the PTV Vissim software.
Specific handbook and tools
In addition to the simulation, the project participants examined existing guidelines and practices, they evaluated case studies with citizens’ participation in the “MORE cities”, and refined tools and processes for design of the road space. After project completion, the implementation of the results is now essential for the continuous improvement of streets in our cities. To achieve this goal, the project partners summarized the results in an extensive handbook: “Better Streets for Better Cities: A handbook for active road planning, design, and management.” Both the long version and the short version “Handbook Popular Version,” include a process description, details to the tools, not to mention an extensive overview of the results of MORE. The project team added a series of specific recommendations for action.
To implement these recommendations, the right tool often makes the difference. Therefore, additional tools were developed or enhanced for the communities:
- A tool for generating design options: a library of design elements for developing new options
- A tool for incorporating interest groups for the joint development of design options, which uses both web-based (LineMap and Traffweb) and customary planning instruments
- The simulation tool PTV Vissim, which simulates user behavior on streets and paths, including the provision of performance measurements
- An assessment tool for evaluating design options
“There have already been many positive reports from communities that were very satisfied with the tools,” says Sukennik, “and this especially because the existing software that is actually used in practice has been enhanced. Furthermore, interest in the possibilities of simulation tools, also for the purpose of sustainable city planning, has increased worldwide; cities in Romania and Hong Kong have already indicated their interest.”
“I regard the project as a true all-around analysis of the current topic of road space design including testing,” adds Luchmann enthusiastically. “In the process, we have examined all road users and modes of transport.”
The path is therefore clear for future-oriented and sustainable design of road space.
- Brief description of the project: https://company.ptvgroup.com/en/about/research/research-projects/more
- Video about MORE: uploaded the video to YouTube.
- Link to MORE homepage: https://www.roadspace.eu/
- Product fact sheet: https://www.roadspace.eu/results/more-products-fact-sheets
- Description of the new PTV Vissim functions: Simulation of road user behavior and interactions https://www.roadspace.eu/results/simulation-of-road-user-behaviour-and-interactions
- Project at CORDIS webseite: https://cordis.europa.eu/article/id/441917-making-better-use-of-urban-street-space?WT.mc_id=exp