'Engineers are going to be faced with some interesting balancing acts,' according to Transport Research Laboratory research director Dr Rod Kimber. 'Local policies will talk of redistributing capacity and engineers will be key to managing that.'
'The first thing an engineer needs to do is look at the local policy, which might give priority to bus lanes,' explains Kimber. 'Then they need to form a clear idea of what will happen when bus lanes go in. They must then decide where queues will form and look at means of managing that. However it is also a question of reasonable balance. If the engineer goes too far with traffic management measures they will get violations.'
There is an armoury of traffic management tools available to engineers. One of the main instruments available is the timing of traffic lights, which can be changed to give priority to different users at different times. The engineer can also use other measures such as new and wider lanes, speed limits, better crossings and even full pedestrianisations. All of these can be used to give priority to public modes of transport.
Then there is a barrage of traffic calming measures such as road humps and chicanes that can be used to improve the environment and safety for road users.
Kimber also believes that engineers are going to have to broaden their skills to deal with new areas. 'There is the public transport side of the equation. Engineers have to become more involved in things such as interfacing with bus companies. This will involve information sharing and co-ordination to get the real time of bus services improved.'
In the future Kimber believes engineers will use high-tech systems for traffic management such as real time traffic management systems that continually monitor traffic queues and relay information to drivers on 'intelligent' electronic signs.