Could we see ‘smart pavements’ introduced in some cities in the UK?

The new technology enables roads to be made wider and kerbs to be moved

The idea of a new ‘smart pavement’ has been proposed that will enable roads to be made wider and kerbs to be moved depending on the levels of traffic in a specific area.

The new technology splits up roads to help ease congestion and dictates which areas can be used by pedestrians, motorists and cyclists at certain times of the day. Coloured LED lights are used to clarify which areas of the road can be used by whom at a specific time. The way they will work for example; if the LED lights are showing red, then the kerbside could be used by pedestrians but when it’s rush hour, the colour would change and this would then become a cycle lane.

The ‘Flexkerb’ technology has been developed by an engineering company called Arup, who use data from smart cameras and sensors to detect usage which can then automatically change kerbs to create more space for pedestrians and cycles.

Also, the new technology will enable the road to be changed when pollution levels are particularly high in a bid to reduce exhaust emissions.

The Government’s National Infrastructure Commission has shortlisted five ideas and Flexkerb is one of them.

The competition asked for ideas surrounding driverless vehicles, to help prepare our roads for the new technology and the designers of Flexkerb were issued with £30,000 for further development.
The development will be awarded a further £50,000 if a feasibility study using computer modelling of a typical street in London proves successful.

“The streets we have at the moment have mainly been designed many years ago before different types of technology or changes in travel behaviour came along,” said Susan Claris, associate director for transport consulting at Arup, adding: “This idea is about having something that’s more responsive and more adaptable to changing travel patterns.”

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