VivaCity, the transport technology scaleup transforming cities into smarter and more efficient places to live and work, has partnered with Transport for Wales (TfW), Welsh Government (WG) and Welsh Local Authorities to encourage safe, active, and sustainable travel.
Working with different Local Authorities across the country, VivaCity’s AI-powered sensors help to shape decision making on infrastructure, ensuring that travel is optimised for road users. This is amid news that more than half of fatal crashes in Britain occur on rural roads, and cyclists are three times as likely to be killed on a rural road than an urban road.
VivaCity’s sensors have been utilised at selected phase one 20mph sites to understand the impact of Wales’ new default speed limit introduction over the past 18 months. This data has allowed for the capture of behaviour change over time and has also looked at speed behaviours at crossings, such as yielding and giving way.
Working with Cardiff Council as part of a trial of non-prescribed zebra crossings, VivaCity’s AI sensors have collected anonymous road user data to understand the crossings’ impact on pedestrian and vehicle interactions. The insights provided by these sensors have proven to be accurate and anonymous, and have given the Council valuable information on the behaviour of both vehicles and cyclists when pedestrians are using the crossings.
Zebra crossings that formed part of a walk to school route have also been analysed. The aim was to understand how the reduced speed limits have impacted safety for pedestrians. Through the use of VivaCity’s sensors, the Council has been able to gain valuable insights into how vehicles alter their behaviour when approaching crossings and how the presence of side zebra crossings influences where pedestrians cross, therefore improving road safety.
In addition, three VivaCity sensors were installed as a temporary scheme by Monmouthshire County Council in Abergavenny, following the implementation of a contraflow cycle lane in the town centre. The sensors gather multi-modal count, path, and speed data, which can be used to determine if cycling increased in popularity as a result of the cycle lane, and if vehicle speed has reduced following the narrowing of the road space.
Rhian Watts, Head of Transportation Modelling at TfW, said: “The implementation of VivaCity’s sensors has provided invaluable data to Local Authorities that can assist with safety regulations and improving infrastructure. We chose VivaCity’s sensors as they are able to provide highly accurate data on speed and interactions between pedestrians and road users that traditional technologies were not able to. Our goal is to make the roads in Wales safe for all road users, and VivaCity is helping us understand what we can do to achieve it.”
As part of a national trial to reduce the default speed limit to 20 mph in residential areas, Flintshire County Council has also implemented VivaCity’s AI sensors to monitor and analyse the impact of reducing speed limits on pedestrian footfall and vehicle volumes, and pedestrian/vehicle interactions. The Welsh Government has confirmed that the national rollout of the default speed limit is set for September 2023, citing the primary motivation behind the initiative as encouraging active and sustainable travel.
Mark Nicholson, CEO and Co-Founder at VivaCity, commented: “While VivaCity’s initial efforts have primarily focussed on urban towns and cities, further expansion into rural areas is necessary in reducing incidents on our roads. It has been great to see the positive results from our sensors in Cardiff, Monmouthshire County, and Flintshire County councils, and the insight they provide to the local governments. It is VivaCity’s goal to help make travel safe and sustainable for all, and we are proud to see our technology help make a difference.”
VivaCity’s data is not only useful for improving road safety, but it can also be used in line with the Welsh Transport Appraisal Guidance (WelTAG) framework. The framework requires that any proposed transport intervention should be based on robust, long-term data. This is where VivaCity’s data comes in, providing the necessary evidence to support the development, appraisal, and evaluation of such interventions in Wales. The importance of robust evidence is highlighted in the WelTAG framework, which emphasises that it should underlie the entire process, from outlining a case to post-implementation. With VivaCity’s data, transport planners in Wales can make informed decisions about proposed interventions, ensuring that they are evidence-based and have a high chance of success.