How can you manage what you don’t measure? Using enhanced TMPs to manage traffic caused by events

Traffic Management Plans (TMP) are a transportation professional’s trusted tool to combat traffic issues that arise from live events. Without a proper plan to mitigate traffic problems, fans and citizens can experience the negative impacts of live events, as outlined in our previous post: How live events affect traffic. 

Today’s Traffic Management Plans consider different modal splits (how people will likely travel to the event), specify the number and location of police or other traffic stewards, outline lane closures or redirections, incorporate different signal timing plans (where possible) and can also utilize Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) or Portable Dynamic Message signs (PDMS). In principle, TMPs are good solutions – they’ve proven their utility over the years. However, and increasingly they suffer in the real world because of the dynamism of traffic and environmental factors. What’s needed is an upgrade. To see why, let’s start by exploring the difference between traditional and the upgrade: enhanced TMPs.

The differences between traditional TMP’s and enhanced TMP’s? 

Traditional TMP’s are created based on informed estimates extrapolated from everyday traffic data. However, when a live event occurs, regular traffic patterns are altered as large amounts of people enter and exit the venue within a certain period of time. As a result, using snapshot data from regular traffic patterns, does not prove effective. 

Traditional TMPs also suffer from limitations in the information used to plan them and in the tools used to implement them. For example, certain types of traffic counting tools are unable to provide rich datasets on modalities of transportation. Or, traditional approaches to traffic signal timing, do not include the ability to re-time signals on a continuous basis. The need to do better has led the way to enhanced TMPs. 

Enhanced TMPs take it one step further by incorporating a continuous data driven approach to active traffic management.This can be achieved with permanent intelligent traffic systems (ITS) solutions, or temporary automated measurement devices which can measure the impacts of events as they occur. Enhanced TMPs should also consist of rich multimodal datasets containing simultaneous classification of vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and e-Scooters – accurate plans require data on all types of traffic, not just cars and trucks.

Enhanced TMP’s also help ensure fans can get to the event – and leave – quickly and safely.  For every live event taking place, there is an ingress period when fans gradually arrive and an egress period when fans all leave at once. Knowing the characteristics of the ingress and egress period can help traffic professionals optimize their signal timing plans. One way to do so would be through the use of Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures (ATSPMs). ATSPM’s analyze high resolution data generated at intersections from controllers and sensors, and allow traffic engineers to solve traffic deficiencies and actively manage traffic signal timing and maintenance on an ongoing basis.These capabilities allow more accurate before and after studies which are useful for traffic engineers who want a better understanding of the impact of traffic due to live events. 

Enhanced TMP Strategies in Practise 

If your enhanced TMP includes the use of a video sensor, you can can also gather valuable quantitative data – seeing exactly what’s happening on the ground and developing a deeper understanding of why problems are happening. 

An example of this can be found in our success story with engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell. The firm was hired by a stadium in the US Midwest that noticed thousands of game-day fans opting to jaywalk across an eight-lane freeway to avoid a congested pedestrian bridge that connected the stadium and parking lot.  

With fan safety top of mind, stadium staff were considering the construction of a second pedestrian bridge, costing upwards of ten million dollars. They used the video footage gathered from Miovision Scout to observe pedestrian behaviour. What did they see? A drainage issue meant that water was regularly puddling in the path of the bridge. Pedestrians were sidestepping the problem and that process repeated thousands of times was significantly slowing the flow of people across the bridge.  With only quantitative pedestrian counts and traveltime data, they would not know about the poor drainage which was causing the backup along the pedestrian bridge. 

While qualitative data can support decisions, continuous quantitative data is the foundation to an enhanced TMP. Enhanced TMP’s that include the use of ITS technologies that capture high resolution data from traffic signal controllers and traffic probes unlock the ability to accurately measure, adjust and remeasure signal management strategies. The continuous stream of data allows for a more accurate evaluation of signal performance over longer periods of time, especially during ingress and egress times, than a traditional retiming strategy would allow for.  

If you’re looking for examples on how ATSPMs can be practised, review our e-book, Clear Signals.It contains over 20 examples of how agencies across North America have successfully implemented ATSPMs, using Miovision TrafficLink.  

Live events present a unique set of challenges to traffic professionals, and part of the solution lies in TMPs that are backed with continuous quantitative and qualitative data collection, and active signal management strategies. Miovision offers both permanent and portable traffic data collection and analysis tools, which can support the implementation, development and ongoing maintenance of enhanced TMPs. 

To learn more about how Miovision can help support enhanced TMPs for live events, download our whitepaper and watch the Fan Experience webinar.

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