Generating safer places for vulnerable road users


Gonzalo Cabezas, Institut Municipal d’Informàtica, Barcelona City Council

7 October 2020

The role of city infrastructures has been proved to be fundamental when facing the challenge of transforming cities to a more sustainable, efficient, safer, and healthier places.  The different infrastructures that coexist in cities have become the pillars from where all the city services are built, and that includes both the new and the existing services.

To support the requirements of new services, cities are constantly required to update their infrastructures in order to adopt the new technologies on the market. This fact is of special relevance when talking about telecommunication infrastructures. Thus, the existence of a widely spread communication network ( e.g. fiber optics, WiFi, RAN[i], etc.) and the capability to host different hierarchical computing levels across the city (e.g. edge computing, fog computing, etc.) can really make the difference when evaluating the viability of deploying new city services and solutions.

The Barcelona City Council has participated in different European initiatives such as GrowSmarter[ii], 5GCity[iii] and Flame[iv] project to demonstrate how cities can take advantage of infrastructure technical innovations to improve city services and to understand what are the best adoption strategies in terms of deployment, maintenance and operation. In other European projects like cMobile[v], NeMo[vi] or InLane[vii] where Barcelona has participated related to intelligent transport systems (ITS), electromobility and geolocalization, data infrastructures took a central role in the deployment of the solutions. The lessons learned during this time had also highlighted the importance of the collaboration between public administration, academia and private sector when trying to find the most appropriate city solutions. Thus, European initiatives such as H2020 calls have become a great framework of collaboration for city services innovation.

Image 1: City infrastructure: Left, street cabinet to host edge computing. Right, smart lamppost.

Within the Pledger project, the Barcelona City Council aims to demonstrate the capabilities of the Pledger infrastructure to provide a reliable solution to the potential collisions that may exist in the city between vulnerable road users. This scenario is of special interest when evaluating some areas around TRAM[viii] stops next to a bike lane. There, the public transport users that are exiting the TRAM stop have to cross a bike lane with very few visual information due to the presence of other users or the TRAM stop itself. Bike users, on the other hand, do not always respect the visual indications around the stops to lower their speed and find a number of pedestrians crossing the bike lane rushing to catch the TRAM or leaving it.

Image 2: TRAM stop next to bike lane.

This solution to an existing problem in the city is aligned with the Barcelona Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP)[ix] that sets out the lines of action governing urban mobility in the coming years. The SUMP is based on the following pillars:

  • Safe mobility
  • Healthy mobility
  • Sustainable mobility
  • Equitable mobility
  • Smart mobility

The adoption of the SUMP is expected to increase mobility on foot and sustainable methods of mobility (by bicycle and on public transport), generating safe and comfortable spaces for pedestrians). It will therefore help reducing the use and presence of private motorised transport (cars and motorcycles), reducing environmental pollution and the consequent health problems. Safe mobility is the first pillar so the increase in the number of pedestrians and bikes in cities has to be always in a safer way.

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