A city traffic engineer has explained how accurate up-to-date data helped him make informed decisions about modal shift and traffic management during the initial days of the Coronavirus restrictions in March, and how the information he has continues to be invaluable.
Sean Bulmer of City of York Council was taking part in a Transport Technology Forum “Fireside Chat” discussing the organisation’s weekly data about traffic and cycling levels gathered across more than a hundred local authority areas.
Bulmer explained how officials and executives in his council needed accurate information, “They wanted data of what was happening in the city, how the car parks were being used, have traffic levels actually dropped, or is it just the perception of them being dropped?” he explained, “But with the data we have, and the data we’ve supplied, we were able to show quite quickly the results of what was going on. Being able to tell people what’s actually happening has been great relief for us, as well as our elected members.”
The chat, hosted by TTF Chair Steve Gooding, also featured Darren Capes of DfT who manages the Forum, Andy Graham from White Willow Consulting who collated the information sources plus Arup analysts Yousef Majeed and Graham Nichols. In the hour-long session they explained how the information was gathered, standardised and published, the overall value of having such rich data from a range of cities, towns and more rural areas.
They panel also discussed the value of local authorities sharing data long-term and how it can be used to make informed decisions about travel in the future, particularly, as Capes explained, when it comes to getting people back out of their cars and back onto public transport. “We have a massive challenge to get people back onto public transport and to make those modes sustainable again,” he explained. “Having all this data in one place and increasingly getting more of that data will be absolutely fundamental in how we plot a way through, and how we develop policies to see that happen again.”
Steve Gooding wrapped up the hour by praising the TTF team for delivering the award winning data project and their commitment to sharing more information, “All we know about the future is it hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “This is going to be a challenging time for all of us. But the more we know about what’s going on, the better informed we’re going to be in the decisions we take.”
The TTF Covid Data Project won Project of the Year at the 2020 ITS (UK) Awards, and was highly commended at the British Construction Industry Awards.
You can watch the whole Fireside Chat on the TTF’s YouTube page here.