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London mayor outlines digital plans for traffic management

01/12/16

New technologies feature heavily in strategy aimed at reducing congestion on capital’s roads

A number of digital initiatives, including greater use of apps and 4G back-up for traffic signals, have been included in a far reaching plan to improve traffic management around London.

Traffic at Piccadilly CircusThe city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, has outlined the measures as part of a plan to reduce congestion on the roads.

One of the main steps will be aimed at reducing the time taken to clear up after collisions and other incidents by using new data sources, including social media and crowdsourced traffic apps, to quickly identify when and where they have taken place.

They will be used to proactively deploy police officers to ensure roads are reopened quickly after the incidents occur.

This will be complemented by the development of more partnerships with technology companies, app developers and satnav providers to spread information on planned road closures and events in advance, giving drivers a better idea of when to avoid certain areas.

Real time traffic messaging on the backs of buses, which has been piloted on a handful or routes, will be assessed with a view to a wider roll out. This is intended to provide drivers with better information when they are on the roads.

4G for signals

There will also be a programme to develop a system of 4G back-up for traffic signals to remain under the control of central operations centres if there is a localised connection failure. No further details are yet available, but this has the potential to overcome a major, if sporadic, problem afflicting road traffic.

Another common issue – long waits at pedestrian lights when nobody is crossing – will be addressed by the roll out of camera detection technology. This could shorten the time vehicles are held at red lights when nobody is waiting to cross.

In addition, there are plans for the use of active travel management tools to manage congestion away from vital parts of the road network, and to link on-bus GPS with traffic signals to prioritise buses running behind schedule.

These will be accompanied by a raft of non-technology measures, such as reviewing the types of roadworks classified as emergency, creating a task force to deal with congestion, and reviewing London’s protocol for reopening roads.

Need to be smart

“Ensuring people can get around our city easily and efficiently is vital for London’s future prosperity,” Khan said. “We need to be much smarter in how we use our roads to tackle the causes of congestion head-on.”

He emphasised that the traffic management steps will work alongside the efforts to make cycling and walking around the city more appealing, and that he has frozen all Transport for London fares for the next four years.

Image by Iridescenti, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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