Smart Transport

Predict and provide gives way to vision and validate

Predict and provide is dead. So says planning policy and so does CIHT (Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation), TCPA (Town and Country Planning Association) and TRICS (Trip Rate Information Computer System). Actually, it has been dead for a long time, it just might not have felt that way. And now the climate emergency, physical and mental health concerns and the Covid-19 pandemic are pushing progress along at a much quicker speed. Of particular concern is climate, and considering that surface transport is the UK’s largest contributor to carbon emissions, it also has the potential to be the biggest win for carbon reduction. 

Traffic, and more specifically peak commuter traffic, used to be the ultimate consideration in transport planning, despite there being no expression in policy that makes this important. We made forecasts about how many people would like to travel by car in the busiest times, assigned that to traffic models, and then designed bigger junctions and roads to enable convenient private travel.

There is undeniable evidence that traffic is a function of the available road space, so, put simply, more capacity means more traffic and less capacity means less traffic. 

Hence, what has emerged instead of predict and provide is a new concept to accelerate sustainable mobility – ‘vision and validate’. This took root in the 2019 EU guidance on sustainable urban mobility plans (SUMP) and branches out further through the congestion reduction in Europe: advancing transport efficiency (Create) project guidelines – led by Vectos – which analysed how five EU capitals have successfully achieved modal shift by first setting the vision of a liveable city, then implementing the required policies to make it a reality.