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Interview with iRAP: how to protect vulnerable road users?

We spoke recently with James Bradford, Global Technical Director, who highlighted the work of the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) as the technical manager, as well as the opportunities that PHOEBE can bring to iRAP. The conversation is part of an ongoing PHOEBE interview series with the project partners and pilot leaders. The first interview was held with NTUA prior to our consortium meeting in Athens.

Welcome James, what are the opportunities of PHOEBE for iRAP?

The PHOEBE project is working to better address the needs of cities in anticipating the safety impact of such changes. PHOEBE equips them with the information needed to address safety issues and help cities meet their road safety and sustainability targets. The project provides the opportunity for the proven iRAP road safety assessment tools to be harnessed together with traffic simulation. It enables the relationship between road user risk and human behaviour, mode shift, and demand of new mobility to be modelled to help cities to plan urban road safety measures.

What unique contributions does iRAP being to the project?

James Bradford, Global technical director of iRAP

The Phoebe project enables iRAP to provide both it’s protocols, along with the team knowledge and expertise in road infrastructure safety. The main iRAP protocols that will be used as part of the Phoebe project are:

  • Star Ratings are a global benchmark, provide an objective measure of the level of safety ‘built-in’ to the road for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
  • Fatal and Serious Injury (FSI) Estimates provides estimates of FSIs along each segment of an existing road or design and supports the prioritisation of investment.
  • Safer Roads Investment Plans draw on data underpinning Star Ratings and FSI Estimates to determine the most cost-effective road safety upgrades.
  • Star Rating for Designs (SR4D) a package of tools, knowledge products, support and other initiatives so that roads are built safe, right from the start.
  • CycleRAP an evidence-based risk assessment model specifically for bicycling and light mobility.

What are currently the main urban road safety challenges and how can PHOEBE help to overcome them?

The main challenges with urban road safety can be grouped into a three broad groups; support for active travel, evolving needs from the road, and a misalignment between a roads function and it’s design.

In terms of support of modes of active travel like walking and cycling safe and adequate infrastructure can be lacking, thereby increasing the risk to these users. The Phoebe project will enable the analysis of provision of infrastructure to support active travel and its related risk level for active mobility users.

The needs of urban road networks are evolving with increased demand and new forms of non-motorised mobility alongside greater potential for public transit like buses and metro systems. The Phoebe project will enable a greater ability to model the demands and behaviour of road users – including non-motorised transport.

There are many examples of the misalignment of a roads function and its design, especially as traffic demands rose. This leads to situations where vulnerable road users like disabled persons, cyclists or pedestrians, are interacting with motorised vehicle travelling speeds beyond safe levels. The Phoebe project will enable a more refined modelling of vulnerable road user behaviour and how it interfaces with motorised vehicles, highlighting high levels of risk.

From the perspective of your role, please describe the first months of the project. What were the challenges and highlights?

The first six months of the project have been crucial in terms of refining the project plan, establishing the work packages, and creating the foundations of the project. Key highlights from the first six months include; carrying out and delivering the literature review, formalising the scope for each of the three pilots, linking with the sister Horizon Europe projects, and providing knowledge sharing webinars.