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Transactions on Ecology and the Environment vol 15, ? 1997 WIT Press, , ISSN 1743-3541

Effectiveness of traffic management measures in improving air quality in European cities D.M. Elsom Air Quality Management Research Group, Department of

E-Mail: dmelsom@brookes.ac.uk

Abstract

Motor vehicle emissions are the principal cause of a growing number of cities in Europe experiencing poor air quality. This paper examines the air quality effectiveness of selected traffic management measures implemented in European cities. Traffic management measures attempt to reduce total vehicle emissions by creating situations where vehicle engines operate efficiently, by eliminating congestion and smoothing traffic flows. They attempt to reduce the use of private vehicles by encouraging a modal switch from cars to public transport, cycling and walking and by applying measures to minimise the distances between home, work, shops and leisure facilities. Factors influencing the choice and the effectiveness of traffic management measures are discussed such as economic considerations, attitudes of the public, national constraints, and alternative goals for such measures (e.g. lessening congestion in order to improve mobility; reducing motor vehicle accidents). This paper highlight that there are a limited number of assessments available concerning the air quality effectiveness of specific measures in a variety of urban settings. One problem experienced in studies attempting to assess the air quality impacts of traffic management schemes is that rarely is one measure implemented on its own, rather a combination of complementary measures is introduced.

1 Introduction

Growth in the number and use of motor vehicles, especially cars, is the principal cause of many European cities experiencing poor air quality in their city centres and inner areas as well as along arterial routes. In contrast, domestic heating emissions (except where coal is still burned) has generally declined in importance while emissions from industrial plants (e.g. manufacturing, power, refining) and commercial premises (e.g. vehicle spray painting, petrol stations) may be responsible for only very localised pollution problems. Clearly, in the majority of cities today, air quality management needs to give most attention to reducing traffic emissions. This paper examines the selected traffic management measures being implemented to improve air quality in cities in Europe and outlines examples of studies assessing their effectiveness.

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2 Traffic management goals

Traffic management measures are intended to reduce total vehicle emissions by creating situations where vehicle engines operate efficiently (e.g. fuel consumption is reduced by eliminating congestion and smoothing traffic flows) and/or by reducing transport demand such that the use of private vehicles is reduced (e.g. measures to encourage a modal switch from private cars to public transport, walking and cycling; land-use planning measures which minimise distances between home, work, shops and leisure facilities and so reduce dependency on cars). Traffic management measures can be adopted long-term and/or short-term (during smogs).

3 Selecting appropriate measures

Most cities have some form of traffic management measures in place already but they are likely to need further measures in order to cope with future growth in traffic. There are many considerations which influence a city's choice of traffic management measure(s): (a) economic considerations. Some measures require expensive engineering to be undertaken and are beyond the resources available to some authorities. For example, a metro may be the preferred way of improving a city's public transport system in order to attract people out of their cars and onto public transport but a guided bus system or improved bus services may be the only option available on economic grounds. (b) alternative goals. Traffic management measures have long been implemented for their effectiveness in achieving goals other than improving air quality such as reducing traffic flows and congestion in order to improve mobility, cutting down on the number of motor vehicle accidents, and reducing noise levels. (c) attitudes of the public. Public support for individual measures varies greatly. For example, the introduction of an exclusive residents' parking zone, for which residents pay a permit, may be welcomed by residents of one district within a city but rejected by another. Weak public support for an implemented measure can lessen its air quality impact considerably as for example when a central area traffic restricted zone simply results in commuters seeking to park in inner city areas as close to the restricted zone as possible rather than switching to public transport for their journey. The cooperation of the public as well as businesses can be improved through publicity and educational campaigns which stress the health (and economic) benefits of the measures. (d) national constraints. Traffic management measures are initiated at the local or municipal level but may require approval by the regional or national tier of Government. Guidelines may be set down as to what measures are likely to be approved and those which will not. In some cases legislation may prevent adoption of specific measures. For example, the UK Transport Act 1985 deregulated bus services, except in London and Northern Ireland, preventing local authorities from subsidising services.

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(e) uncertainty concerning the air quality effectiveness of measures. Limited research has been undertaken to assess the air quality effectiveness of each measure or combination of traffic management measures. Assessments are needed in a range of urban sizes, densities and forms, topography, climate, etc. The limited number of detailed air quality assessments to date means that the success of many measures, especially those which attempt to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality by transferring urban trips from the private car to public transport have sometimes to be judged simply on whether they have achieved the desired modal distribution.

The air quality changes that have been produced by implementing single traffic management measures or a combination of measures for various European cities, especially the smaller cities, are outlined in the following sections. Some measures may displace rather than reduce traffic emissions, shifting the area of poor air quality from one part of the city to another, such that additional measures need to be introduced at the same time to prevent this. Similarly a traffic restraint measure which deters or prevents commuters from using cars needs to be complemented by measures to improve public transport, walking or cycling facilities. It would seem that rarely is a single traffic management measure introduced on its own, rather a package of measures is needed.

4 Traffic restricted zones

Area-wide bans or restrictions on traffic may be very localised (e.g. pedestrianised street) or cover a much wider area (e.g. historical or commercial district). Most city centres in Europe contain some streets that are pedestrianised, sometimes allowing buses and taxis to travel along these streets. Many Italian cities (e.g. Bologna), Swiss cities (e.g. Bern, St Gallen, Geneva) and cities in the Netherlands (e.g. Enschede) have introduced an auto-restricted zone (ARZ) with access permitted only for pedestrians, bicycles, taxis, public transport vehicles and residents. Additional measures are usually needed to ensure that congestion and increased traffic emissions do not occur immediately outside the traffic restricted zone.

In October 1989, after lengthy public consultation, Lubeck, Germany, banned cars from the city centre (about 1 knf) on every first Saturday per month and then from July 1990 on all Saturdays (1000-1800) its old town. Public transport, taxis, the handicapped and later delivery vehicles, residents and hotel guests were given free access. Public transport was improved and the number of parking areas close to the historical area was increased. Emissions of CO decreased by 75 per cent and NO, fell by between 18 and 50 per cent. After nine months the experiment had proved a success and was extended to Sunday; and in May 1995, the decision was taken to expand it in 1996 to all days of the week [1]. In October 1991 a six-month experimental closure to cars on Saturdays was introduced in Aachen, Germany. Saturday Park and Ride facilities have been offered for many years and so Saturday car restraint (with smaller traffic volumes) seemed a logical step especially as the pedestrianised

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area of the city was expanding. Park and Ride services operate from seven peripheral sites (the sites being factory and office car parks not used by employees at weekends) and provide a total of 15,000 car spaces. Access to parking was allowed on designated roads with barriers patrolled by guards erected around the areas of limited access. On-street parking was allowed only to residents who were exempted from the restrictions. Motor vehicle traffic decreased by 8 per cent from 44 per cent to 36 per cent while public transport usage rose by 5 to 15 per cent. NO? decreased 50 per cent and CO fell to about 40 per cent of the former concentrations. However, in 1996 it was decided that the Saturday limited access area would be abandoned (the Saturday barriers were considered to create a hostile appearance) but the pedestrian areas would be expanded and consolidated (e.g. by closing a route to private cars which had divided the central shopping area) which, in effect, bans cars from the city centre all days of the week [1,2,3,4].

Following a terrorist bombing in London in 1993, the UK Government decided to restrict entry into the City's financial district by blocking off some entry and exit roads and installing police checkpoints at others. Using traffic flow and speed data, models showed that traffic emissions of CO, HC, NO%, CO% and PM^ fell by 15-16 per cent within the security cordon, but that emissions increased by 2 per cent immediately outside the cordon due to rerouting of traffic. Monitoring showed that annual average urban background pollution concentrations fell by 12 per cent, a smaller reduction than the emissions as pollution infiltrates into the area from nearby traffic and other sources [5]. Plans are being made to extend this zone for environmental rather than security reasons.

Financial measures such as tolls and area licenses, in which charges are levied on vehicles entering a defined area, can also reduce traffic emissions by deterring some vehicles from entering the controlled area but they may worsen congestion outside the cordon so increasing emissions there. Generally, it is estimated that reductions in vehicle emissions of 10 to 40% can be achieved in the cordoned area but the overall citywide reduction may total only 5% [2,6].

5 Parking restrictions

A wide range of parking restrictions can be applied to deter the proportion of journeys made by private vehicles to the city centre. These include increasing parking charges in the city centre, reducing the number of roadside and public parking spaces (and greater enforcement of illegal parking), restricting the building of new car parks, restricting the parking space allowed for new or even existing businesses, and expanding the parking capacity at Park and Ride sites. However, the effectiveness of parking management is often limited by a high proportion of parking spaces being private and non-residential.

Using five UK cities ranging in size from 180,000 to just over 500,000, Dasgupta et al.[7] estimated that doubling parking charges would reduce car share in the central area by about 13 per cent (from 56 per cent to 43 per cent).

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The citywide effect in car share would be a reduction of about 3 per cent and the estimated CO, equivalent emissions would be reduced by 1.6 per cent to 3.7 per cent citywide. Halving the number of parking spaces has an even greater effect than doubling parking charges on car use in the central area, cutting the modal share by 36 per cent (from 56 per cent to 20 per cent), though increasing the car share by 5 to 7 per cent in the outer area. Overall, a citywide reduction of between 5 and 8 per cent is achieved, with most former car users transferring to buses. With less traffic in the central area, average vehicle speeds increase by up to 35 per cent. The net effect on CC^ equivalent emissions is a reduction of 3.5 to 5.5 per cent.

Fribourg, Switzerland, is using zonal assignment and planning techniques to try to reduce high NO, levels caused almost exclusively by the daily influx of 23,000 vehicles into the city. Current mobility profiles (parking needs) of employers have been determined in three city zones, defined according to the quality of public transport available. Parking spaces for employers in each zone were then reduced (e.g. by about 30 per cent in the city centre zone). It was estimated that this strategy would reduce traffic volumes by 28 per cent (17 per cent citywide) and projected traffic volumes by 46 per cent in the city centre and that this would reduce NO, levels significantly [8]. The Netherlands also relates mobility profiles of businesses and amenities (in terms of employee and visitor intensities, the dependence of employees on car use during their work and the importance of freight transport) to accessibility profiles of locations by different forms of transport. This ABC location policy determines the type of developments which will be permitted in particular locations and parking standards. Locations classified as A are the most accessible by public transport (e.g. close to major railway stations) so businesses are allocated a smaller parking capacity per number of employees than type' C locations where the quality of public transport is relatively low. Although the policy applies only to new developments, many municipalities have adopted parking policies consistent with the ABC policy, particularly in city centres and other congested areas.

A negative aspect of restricting parking spaces or raising charges in the city centre is an increase of traffic in nearby streets as motorists seek parking spaces or less expensive ones. Generally, the use of parking measures on their own are estimated to save only 2 to 6% in citywide emissions [9]. To be more effective in reducing emissions, parking measures need to be combined with other measures which encourage a switch from private cars to public transport, cycling and walking.

6 Traffic calming and area-wide speed limits

Residential areas are less likely to exceed air quality standards than city centres but improvements in air quality may be sought especially if such areas are used by commuters as short cuts. Further, traffic restraint measures taken in the city centre may lead to increased traffic seeking parking spaces in adjacent residential areas leading to worsening air quality in these areas unless deterrent

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measures are undertaken. Traffic calming measures in residential areas include mini-roundabouts, raised platform junctions, road narrowings and road humps. They attempt to reduce traffic speeds to a lowered speed limit of 30 kph.

Some studies suggest that where drivers respond aggressively to road humps (braking hard on approaching and accelerating away rapidly afterwards until the next hump is encountered) increases in CO and HC emissions may result [9,10]. However, this disadvantage does not apply to horizontal calming measures (mini-roundabouts, chicanes, curves, etc). A diffusion tube survey undertaken before and after the implementation of traffic calming in Exeter, UK, showed that NO, levels fell by about one third [11]. Abbott et al.[6] report on a theoretical study of the effects of a slower speed due to traffic calming and indicate that fuel consumption would increase by 25 per cent. Emissions of CO, HC and CO, would rise by 25 to 50 per cent while NOx emissions would fall by 30 per cent. Assessments of traffic calming measures in a range of German cities suggest that whereas NO* emissions were reduced in the range from 38 to 60 per cent, changes in HC emissions ranged from -23 per cent to +10 per cent and changes in CO ranged from +7 per cent to +71 per cent [6]. Generally, studies have highlighted that traffic calming schemes designed to encourage steady driving speeds are more effective in reducing emissions than slow vehicle speeds per se.

Ten year ago, Graz, Austria, introduced traffic calming measures in two small residential areas with such success that in 1991 more than 80 other 30 kph zones were requested by citizen's groups. The cost and the time needed to create such zones prompted the city council not to use traditional traffic calming zones but to introduce a general 30 kph speed limit for the whole city street network except for priority streets where a 50 kph limit applied. The experiment ran from September 1992 until August 1994 after which it was decided to continue with the general 30 kph speed limit. A survey of households found that there was no change in the mode of transport used and that there was little change (less than 2 per cent) in the routes taken such that, contrary to public expectation, there was no increase in congestion on the priority routes. 170 test drives took place along roads in the city. At one second intervals, the speed, distance and time of the journey were measured in order to estimate emissions from each vehicle at speeds of 50 kph and 30 kph. The largest proportion of emissions in the city comes from priority roads and since there was no significant differences in the mode of transport or choice of route after the introduction of the 30 kph limit, there is no noticeable difference in the level of emissions along these routes. In the 30 kph limit streets, where only 5 to 8 per cent of all vehicle emissions are emitted, there were positive and negative findings with a 3.8 per cent increase in CO emissions and 0.5 per cent increase in HC. The major change concerned NO% emissions which were reduced by 24 per cent. For the city as a whole, N?2 was reduced by 1.9 per cent. Road safety increased and noise levels were reduced in the 30 kph zones [12].

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