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Local Area Transport Planning, Management & Design (CIV5036Z)

Course convenor: A/Prof Roger Behrens (Department of Civil Engineering)

Motivation for the course
South African local area movement network design practices have tended to draw from British and American concepts concerned primarily with through-traffic elimination and safe pedestrian movement within neighbourhoods delimited by grids of limited access arterials and freeways. These design concepts assume that widespread access to private transport is inevitable and that walking trips are internal to the neighbourhood and localised in nature. The simultaneous emergence, in the late 1980s and 1990s in different parts of the world, of new practices that challenge these assumptions, suggests that a significant shift in what is dominantly regarded as ‘best practice’ internationally has begun. There is a need to reconsider the appropriateness and underlying assumptions of local movement network design practices in South Africa as well. New concepts need to be developed in which local networks are configured first to meet the needs of non-motorised and public transport modes, and then to accommodate the use of motor cars.

South African local area movement network management practices, in the form of traffic calming and the introduction of facilities for pedestrians, cyclists and persons with movement disabilities, have tended to be uncoordinated and reactive. Practice has tended to focus on the circumstances under which different types of retrofitting measures might be warranted at specific sites. As a result management practices have often not undertaken causal analyses of problems beyond localised traffic engineering assessment of road environment factors, and little attention has been paid to pedestrian and bicycle network severance and connectivity. Improved network management practices will require co-ordinated and proactive pedestrian planning, bicycle planning and traffic calming, integrated within wider spatial development and travel demand management frameworks, and informed by analytical techniques that go beyond hazardous road accident, or ‘black spot’, identification.

This course is intended to address these challenges.

Course objectives
The objective of this course is to provide students with an overview of the planning and implementation of transport improvements at a local area (as opposed to city-wide) scale. It explores local area network design practices appropriate to the South African context, as well as the management of networks through co-ordinated and proactive traffic calming and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure provision. It exposes students to current developments in the field both locally and internationally.

Course structure and content
The course comprises four phases:

  • a pre-contact period of five weeks, involving some 30-40 hours of preparatory reading and assignments;
  • a week of intensive contact time at UCT, comprising 40-50 hours of formal lectures and class assignments;
  • a two-hour course test (on the Monday following the contact week), intended to evaluate students’ understanding of selected aspects of the material they have been exposed to during the contact week, and
  • a post-contact period of seven weeks, involving an assignment or assignments requiring about 100-120 hours of work.

The material presented during the contact period is structured around four themes:

Street design:

  • street functions; urban design and landscaping of streets; geometric design of roadways and intersections; case studies

Network design:

  • origins and evolution of local area movement network design and management practices; road classification and hierarchies; impacts of network design practices on travel behaviour and road safety

Traffic calming:

  • planning and implementation frameworks for traffic calming; traffic volume management; traffic speed management; case studies
  • Non-motorised travel modes and universal access: management of local area networks to accommodate pedestrians, bicycles, and persons with disabilities; case studies

Formal presentations on these topics by both Programme staff and invited external specialists are interspersed with work on a group assignment, the product of which is presented and discussed on the last day of the course.

Readings for the preparatory assignment are issued about five weeks prior to the commencement of the contact period. Additional readings may be issued during the contact week or subsequently through the Vula on-line course worksite, together with the brief for the major post-contact phase assignment.

Contact week attendance
Students are expected to attend the contact week on a full-time basis, which will require them to be resident in Cape Town for its duration given that the daily timetable during this period will generally occupy the hours from 08h00 to 17h00. Attendance for the entire contact period is a requirement, and students who are absent for more than 20% of the contact period duration will not be allowed to complete the course.

Learning outcomes
Students who have completed the course successfully should:

  • be familiar with the planning and implementational frameworks through which local area movement networks are designed and managed in South Africa;
  • be able to identify the implications changed transport policy environments have for local area movement network design and management practices;
  • have an appreciation of the varying perspectives of the professional disciplines involved in local area movement network design and management;
  • have a basic knowledge of network, street, intersection, roadway, pathway and cycleway design; and
    be able to contribute effectively to the preparation of local area transport plans.

Assessment
The aggregate mark for this course is compiled as follows:

minor assignment based on preparatory reading 15%
group contact week assignment 10%
major post-contact phase assignment 50%
course test 25%
  100%

Students who do not obtain an aggregate mark of at least 50% for their preparatory assignment, course test and post-contact phase assignment will be deemed to have failed the course.