The Smart Traffic Middle East conference, the first of its kind which was held with support from the Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA), recently featured regional and international expert speakers addressing the increasing challenges of traffic congestion in the Middle East.
“Many cities have experienced that the difference between a six-lane road and a two-lane road is that, in a two-lane road, you get two lanes of traffic congestion, whereas in a six-lane road you get six lanes of traffic congestion,” Hamid Iravani, transportation planning director at the engineering firm Parsons, said.
Parsons spoke today about implementing green, multi-modal transportation systems.
“Over the last two decades, many cities worldwide have realized that curing traffic congestion by just widening roads and building extensive highway systems is like curing obesity by loosening your belt,” Iravani said. “So concepts like New Urbanism, Smart City, Neo-Traditional Planning and Transit Oriented Development, which all advocate more sustainable multi-modal transportation systems are now included as part of many regional plans in creating human scale places which are built for people as opposed to just for automobiles.”
Iravani said building a new road that moves people further away from their place of work will cause more congestion. The new road may also tempt the commuter who is used to the public transport system to use the road instead, which also causes more congestion.
“So a green, multi-modal transportation system defines what that optimum level of required roads is, and it’s about pulling people out of their cars and pushing them onto public transport and a non-motorised transportation system,” Iravain said.
Khoong Chan Meng, director and CEO for the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore, said his country has been able to reduce traffic congestion and improve travel time despite licensing more vehicles over the years.
“The expansion and optimization of the public bus and mass rapid transit networks has also increased commuter choice, comfort, and convenience," he said. "These developments have a direct positive impact on national productivity, ease of doing business, and access to essential education, healthcare and other economic and social needs of residents and visitors.”
Messe Frankfurt Middle East CEO Ahmed Pauwels said conferences like Smart Traffic Middle East play a vital role in creating a wider awareness of the hazards posed by unorganized and chaotic traffic on roads worldwide, and that they provide key insights from leading experts on how best to combat urban traffic bottlenecks and ensure smooth free-flowing vehicular and pedestrian throughout.