Have you ever driven through a roundabout and realised at the last minute that you cannot see the oncoming vehicle due to vegetation on the central island? This is a significant safety risk that should not be ignored. Next time you see it, make a complaint about it.
Austroads Design Guidelines explicitly specify that vegetation on the central island must not prevent an approaching driver from seeing oncoming vehicles. It specifies a sight distance triangle which should not be visually obstructed by any means.
As such it is always an issue that can be easily rectified. Consequences of not rectifying this easy issue is far greater. All vegetation on central islands must not be a type that grows above drivers’ eye levels measured from a passenger car. Road authorities must also ensure vegetation is regularly maintained to prevent this issue from occurring.
Aside from this, there must treatments in place to reduce approaching speeds of vehicles at roundabouts. These include reverse curves, rumble strips, street signage, flashing signs etc.
Psychology is defined by the Australian Psychological Society as "...both a science and a profession, devoted to understanding how people think, feel, behave and learn..."
Right then, if psychology is how people think, feel, behave and learn.. there is definitely some common ground between transport engineering and human psychology. Let's explore that. Here is an example involving thinking, feeling, behaving and learning coming all together at once in the world of transport engineering.
You are on the bus coming home after work on a freezing cold rainy evening. The bus will eventually stop 1.5km away from your home. You have no option, but to walk. You are thinking, what to do - should I walk or should I call my partner. Then your partner is busy and they are stuck at some other task and cannot come to pick you up. You have no choice, but to walk that 1.5km in this cold, rainy night. Now, you hop off the bus, walk on this footpath that is full of water puddles. You are feeling irritated, frustrated and regretful for not taking the car to work on this rainy day. Now you go home, dwell on your frustration and check the weather forecast for tomorrow. Its going to rain even more for the next three days. Next day you wake up thinking there is no way I am taking the bus today, I am driving to work. Your behaviour today was directly or indirectly affected by the poor user experience from yesterday's incident - (1) the 1.5km distance from bus stop to home and (2) the water puddles on the footpath. Through this, you have learned to check the weather forecast before you make decisions about the mode of transport you opt for.
This is just one simple example of how human psychology affects decisions made in relation to the world of transport. Now, the important question is do engineering standards discuss human psychology? Do we consider the differences in thinking patterns born out of cultural differences, weather patterns, medical conditions or the state of mind (anger, depression, sadness) when determining transport engineering solutions.
Here are some hypothetical situations we haven't possibly addressed solutions for:
We as engineers, planners and architects must not eliminate human factors from our decision making processes. A sight distance calculation complying with the recommended minimum sight distance criterion does not necessarily provide a good enough solution. A parking demand assessment justifying a reduction of parking spaces by providing bicycle hoops does not necessarily mean users will choose to ride bikes. A local area traffic management strategy suggesting a lowered speed limit or a 10km/h shared zone does not necessarily reduce the speed at which vehicles would travel.
We have a responsibility to ask, whether a certain solution would work in each individual scenario. It's not just about getting the approval from the council or the road authority. Spend 5 minutes stepping into the shoes of the end-user. Let's start with that.
RedSquare Traffic Consultants
Creativity in Transport Engineering
A swept path assessment or a swept path analysis is a diagram or a collection of diagrams indicating the path taken by a certain vehicle when undertaking various movements such as three point turns, U-turns or right turns. These diagrams mimic the path followed by the body and chassis of vehicles during these movements. The intention of swept path diagrams is to analyse and confirm that vehicles are able to stay clear of hazards such as fixed objects and road users when undertaking manoeuvres.
Local councils or road authorities often request swept path assessments when planning new developments, particularly when car parks, driveways, access roads of these developments are shared amongst various users. Swept paths are also required when construction sites are expected to generate a regular flow of heavy vehicles during a certain long-term construction activity.
Swept path assessments are prepared using various design vehicle templates outlined in Austroads Guidelines and Australian Standards and are drawn using professional engineering drafting software. Traffic engineers understand the most appropriate class of vehicle suited for your development.
Factors such as the speed of the vehicle, vehicle type, width of the vehicle accessways or even external factors such as weather conditions affect the outcome of a swept path assessment. As external factors such as weather conditions or pavement conditions are unable to be captured in a simulation, a worst-case scenario is presented in each swept path analysis.
Experienced traffic engineers of RedSquare Traffic are able to produce high-quality swept path assessments to assist with planning applications, construction traffic management plans or for any other activity which requires swept path assessments. Call us on 03 7036 6734 to request a quotation.
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Parking Demand Assessments also known as Parking Assessments or Parking Studies are often requested by local councils or road authorities when your development is expected to create adverse impacts on the existing car parking facilities surrounding the proposed development including public and street parking. Parking assessments are also required when your development is not able to provide the required number of parking spaces as mandated by the Planning Scheme of your local council.
These parking demand assessments typically contain a review of applicable Planning Scheme clauses and calculations on how many parking spaces your development must provide. The parking space requirement varies according to the size of your development. In simple words, a 3-bed room house only requires 2 parking spaces, whereas a medical centre may need 10-15 car parking spaces. If there is a shortfall in parking spaces due to constraints associated with land size or otherwise, a parking demand assessment is required to justify that your development can operate successfully with a reduced number of parking spaces. In other words, your visitors or customers must be able to find parking spaces within a practical distance from your development, and this must not create any detrimental effect to other roads users in the surrounding road network. If this cannot be achieved, due to parking restrictions or simply because the existing street parking spaces are typically operating at capacity, the development must provide other ways for customers or visitors to access it. This can either be public transport modes or sustainable transport modes such as walking or cycling. Failing all this, a development may also be forced to consider innovative options such as car stackers or basements.
To understand existing parking capacity of the surrounding road network, our traffic engineers conduct peak hour parking surveys on typical weekdays. Through this, we make an assessment of whether the existing street parking or nearby public carparks can support your development.
Experienced traffic engineers of RedSquare Traffic can prepare Parking Demand Assessments to accompany your Planning Permit application. A typical Parking Demand Assessment will contain the following:
Contact RedSquare Traffic on 03 7036 6734 to obtain a quote.
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During feasibility assessment stages, it is extremely important to evaluate whether your future development will mandate an intersection upgrade at the access point to the property. If you learn about this piece of information once you have committed to the investment, it might be too late. Always prepare for the worst-case scenario. Keep reading to learn more. Some of this may be brand new information for some.
When certain developments like subdivisions are expected to generate a considerable amount of traffic accessing and egressing the development, it will have an adverse impact on the adjoining main road that it is connected to. Not only do vehicles slowing down to access the development, may slow down the traffic stream of the main road, they may also cause rear-end type crashes. In simple terms, a development is not supposed to make the existing road network worse-off. If it does, mitigation measures must be put in place.
In order to assess this risk, a traffic engineer performs a Turn Warrants Assessment as part of a broader Traffic Impact Assessment. Through this, a traffic engineer evaluates the number of turning movements that are expected to occur at the access point of the development and compares these numbers against the volumes of the adjacent main road. Austroads Design Guidelines specifies the types of turning treatments required for various types of roads with various speed limits. Assessment criteria include:
Who would have thought, you need guidance from a traffic engineer before buying a large block of land? Now you know, that you should.
Keep following RedSquare Traffic's blog for more interesting articles. Contact RedSquare Traffic on 03 7036 6736 for your traffic engineering services including:
Designing a car park has a lot more to it than simply dividing the space up into the maximum number of car parking spaces you can possibly fit in it. It is true that the developer almost always prefers to maximise the number of car parking bays. However, there are more aspects to consider when designing a car park.
(2) A pedestrian walking back to their vehicle is always looking to locate their car and get to it by using the shortest route available;
(3) A vehicle entering the car park is always looking to find the closest, most convenient car parking space in the shortest amount of time possible; and
(4) A vehicle exiting the car park is always looking to locate the exit and get to it as quickly as possible.
Then you add to it the children running around, the prams, the wheelchairs, people with special needs, trolleys, delivery vehicles, bicycles and public transport vehicles. Now imagine putting all of these together in an area and asking them not to collide with each other. It is pure chaos, isn't it? Hence why we said at the start, it is way more complex than playing a game Tetris. In the game, worst possible outcome is you losing the game. In a car park, you may cost a life.
Thus, a car park design must look at various considerations covering few different aspects of traffic engineering to achieve the best possible outcome. In summary, a car park must provide:
Talk to the traffic engineers of RedSquare Traffic to understand the process of a car park design. Following services may also interest you:
Pedestrian and cyclist safety in temporary worksites
Pedestrian and cyclist safety is of greater importance when it comes to temporary works on footpaths or shared user paths.
Imagine being a cyclist riding on a rainy, freezing cold night on a slippery cycle path and encountering a shared user path closure and not having a detour to get around the worksite safely? Not only it is extremely frustrating, but you are subjecting yourself to a risk that should not have happened in the first place.
It is vital that each road user is considered separately when designing temporary traffic schemes.
After hours treatment is another important aspect of a worksite that is often overlooked, especially when it comes to footpaths and shared user paths. Detailed planning must occur regarding how the work zones are treated during work hours and after hours - when no workers are occupying the area.
This is where Traffic Guidance Schemes and Traffic Control Plans come in handy, which detail specifically how and where signage and detours are provided during both working and after hours.
A Road Safety Audit is also recommended for worksites such that an opinion of an independent accredited person is sought to evaluate the safety risks associated with your worksite.
Talk to RedSquare Traffic’s traffic engineers to discuss more about:
- Traffic Guidance Schemes;
- Traffic Control Plans;
- Traffic Management Plans; and
- Road Safety Audits.
03 7036 6734