Impact of temporary road blocks for a safer school environment
In Flanders, many cities are introducing ‘schoolstraten’, school streets.
The intent is to reduce the chaotic traffic around schools at the beginning and end of a school day. The road is physically blocked during these school rush hours to prevent all motorised traffic.
This has some obvious advantages for the children, parents, school and the neighbourhood. The chaos at the school entrance is drastically reduced, safety for pedestrians and cyclists increased, air pollution reduced, parents and children get more physical exercise and it results in anoverall more enjoyable experience at the school gate.
Blocking the street for a certain amount of time is a drastic measure and often not welcomed by the surrounding streets as there is the risk of increased motorised traffic in those streets. Typically, a schoolstreet is evaluated based on gutt feeling, surveys or complaints. Polivisu proposed the city of Mechelen to perform policy evaluation based on visualisations and data.
Initially, the polivisu project tried to perform this kind of analysis based on ANPR data, but it was soon found that there was not a good fit. Privacy issues and lack if fine grained information are the main drawbacks on that kind of data for this kind of analysis.
A more suitable alternative is Telraam data. From the Telraam site: “Telraam develops high-tech and reliable measuring equipment that is made available to interested citizens. They are helped to set up their own fully automatic traffic counters. Then they mount them in their front windows, and traffic counting can start. That, in a nutshell, is Telraam. All the collected counts are made available for policymaking and research, but also to all residents and interested parties.”
Telramen were introduced in the street where the school is located as well as in the surrounding schools, allowing measuring the impact of the policy in stead of guessing it.
Together with the city of Mechelen, Polivisu created a dashboard to monitor the traffic in the different modes
And a KPI chart to monitor progress versus the target set at the start of the project.
Getting the right data proved to be key. Since there was no data available, we organised and started creating the data by the citizens. This also helps to get the needed support.
The dashboard is rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic, so interpreting the results proved to be hard. We need to come back to this once the situation is back to normal
Mailing to the parents of the children of the school, explaining the concept and the need for volunteers to measure traffic
Workshop to define requirements for the dashboard
Workshop to explain how to set up Telraam
Gather feedback on usage (pending)
Covid-19 makes it harder to draw conclusions, yet the city of Mechelen is enthousiastic about the scientific approach of policy evaluation. Detailed feedback is pending.
To be assessed later