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Traffic Modelling in Australia - The Ultimate Guide

Quantum Traffic provide specialist traffic modelling services in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

Cities, suburbs and towns will all change over time.

When dealing with significant changes to the transport network, such as increases in population brought on by new development, the role of traffic engineers is to help make sure that people and goods can get to where they need to go, safely and efficiently.

We do this through traffic modelling.

What is traffic modelling?

Also known as transport modelling, traffic modelling involves mathematical computer models that traffic engineers use to replicate the operation of the road network.

Traffic modelling allows us to consider how the operation of the road network changes under different conditions, such as with a new development or with different intersection control (traffic signals or a roundabout). This helps us to understand how the road network is currently being used and how it can best be adapted to changing conditions in the future.

Ultimately, traffic modelling is a tool used by traffic engineers to reach their overarching goal: to safely and efficiently manage the movement of people and goods.

What are the tools used in traffic modelling?

There are a number of different software packages that are used in traffic modelling, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. At Quantum Traffic, we have experience using a range of software packages

For smaller-scale models and where a quick turn-around time is required, an analytical traffic model (such as SIDRA Intersection) is used. SIDRA Intersection is widely used by local government and state road authorities throughout Australia.

For more complex models or where animated outputs are required, a traffic simulation model (such as Aimsun Next) is used. Aimsun Next is widely used throughout the world and is the preferred traffic simulation software in the ACT and NSW.

When is transport modelling used?

Traffic modelling is needed when projects require detailed analysis of traffic impacts; therefore, traffic engineers often employ traffic modelling for projects that are expected to generate large traffic demands, particularly when located in areas that currently experience a level of congestion.

An example of a time when Councils or road authorities might ask for traffic modelling is mixed-use developments in brownfields locations. In these instances, traffic engineers use traffic modelling to assess the constraints on the existing road network and to develop solutions to accommodate the development traffic demands. This is vital data for architects and developers in their negotiations with Councils and road authorities.

How does traffic modelling work?

First, we collect the data that informs the simulation (existing conditions data), such as:

  • Public transport timetables,

  • Queue lengths,

  • Road geometry,

  • Traffic signal phases and timings,

  • Traffic volumes, and

  • Travel times.

This data allows us to calibrate and validate the model to the existing conditions, to ensure it accurately reflects real-world conditions.

The model is then ready to be used to consider future changes to the road network. This is typically done in two stages. The first (future base or business-as-usual) considers how the road network will operate in the future without the proposed development. The second scenario (future development) considers the performance of the road network with the proposed development. In this way the impacts associated with the proposed development can be identified through the comparison of the results from these two scenarios.

The model can then be used to test how different changes to the road network will improve traffic flow.

Traffic modelling guidelines

Each road authority provides their own guidelines for best practice traffic modelling.

Following these guidelines will mean an easy negotiation process, should you require traffic modelling as evidence when negotiating with road authorities.

Follow the links below for more information about transport modelling guidelines in your jurisdiction.

Transport modelling guidelines in Canberra: Transport Canberra traffic modelling guidelines

Transport modelling guidelines in Victoria: VicRoads traffic modelling guidelines

Transport modelling guidelines in New South Wales: NSW Road and Maritime Service traffic modelling guidelines

How traffic modelling helps architects win work

Developers are well aware of the need to minimise traffic impacts. Not only will doing so help the future liveability and value of their development, but Councils demand that any development they approve must not adversely impact the surrounding traffic.

Therefore, when looking for an architect to bring their projects to life, input from a traffic planning consultant is like gold.

Traffic planning consultants can use traffic modelling to show the relevant Council or road authority the long-term traffic impacts of an architect's design.

Therefore, the input of a traffic engineer will be vital in getting your design approved and brought to life.

Want to find out more about how traffic modelling can help get your design approved?

Get in contact with us today, and let us help your development set the standard for sustainable roads and liveable communities.

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