Here at Traffic Management London, we have been proactively looking at the bigger picture surrounding temporary traffic management as part of our Corporate Social Responsibility.
One thing that has been brought to our attention over the years are the problems faced by cyclists and people who are disabled. Whilst we, and I am sure other TM providers, are aware of the issue’s TM causes, it is not until we went into detail that it really became clear what the issues truly are, and how easy it can be to rectify them.
We are very capable of keeping the workforce safe and directing traffic in a controlled and safe manner, but do we really take into consideration the affect we have on pedestrians and cyclists. Again, we understand that their safety is paramount and always ensure that is maintained. The problem is that we create other issues for people and cyclists that we may not fully appreciate.
We have taken part in both walking and cycling patrols with TfL which highlight and educate contractors and TM companies as to the problems faced daily. These patrols are not designed to criticise or point the finger, they have been a positive experience for all involved to better understand the issue’s caused by TM and enable us to understand how to look at the schemes we design with this in mind.
The main thing is to better plan schemes by looking at alternatives which are more user friendly and cause the least disruption. This of course, you might say, is already what we do! I would have said the same several months ago and would have said we have caused little disruption to any user of the network. However, with the knowledge gained on the outings, it is now clear that whilst we were doing a great job, on occasions it was not quite good enough.
The main problem is around long-term set ups as these will inevitably cause inconvenience due to the duration. A one day set up will obviously cause disruption and sometimes delays but at least, when looking at the bigger picture it is gone the following day and no longer causing people any trouble. An example of the issue’s faced even on a one day set up is that of someone with Autism. The daily routine that has been practiced and accepted as normal is suddenly changed. This can in some cases cause distress and prevent the continuation of their journey. With just a small amount of consideration when planning these set ups either short or long term we can allow people to go about their day uninterrupted.
It is not just at the planning stage that we can make a difference though. Even if we plan things in the right way there can still be mistakes made when setting up the TM, even when working from a plan. Things like barriers and signs blocking access to push buttons on temporary pedestrian lights can cause wheelchair users and the partially sighted difficulty in reaching or locating the button. Just a small amount of awareness training for TM operatives could radically reduce this occurring.
As TM providers it is necessary for us to understand and implement measures to make our designs and set ups better. We have plans to continue working closely with TfL and in particular Michael Barratt MBE to find ways to introduce these practices and make our clients aware of their own responsibility when looking at TM. There are many things that can be done not all of which need any investment. There are also investments in different equipment that can be made which will improve access and reduce the obstacles sometimes faced. TM equipment needs to be replaced as it gets damaged or worn out. With the education and thought process gained we can start to look at replacing this equipment with more user-friendly products, by doing this it does not need huge outlay but would take time to phase out older equipment.
It is our intension to be at the forefront to help change the thought process and to make a difference to how traffic management is delivered.