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Level of Traffic Stress - an Australian approach

In 2006 Roger Geller, the Bicycle Coordinator for Portland (Oregon), put forward a typology of cyclist based on how traffic influences their decision on whether or not to cycle. The system is simple, elegant and surprisingly universal. There has been research into the system that shows the proportion of the population within the four different groups is reasonably consistent between cities, with variation likely based to some degree on the extent of their existing cycling network.

The Mineta Transportation Institute (Portland) developed a method for assessing the Level of Traffic Stress (LTS) of the network to assesses how well the active transport network meets the needs of the different types of cyclist. Several cities worldwide have modified and refined the original LTS to make it applicable to their conditions and suitable for their needs.

In 2019 the Department of Transport, Victoria identified the need to develop an LTS method appropriate for Australian conditions. The need stems from the need identified in the Victorian Cycling Strategy to deliver a safer, lower-stress, better connected network to encourage more people to ride a bicycle for transport.

WSP were appointed to develop an LTS method and assessment tool that will inform Victoria's Movement and Place Framework and a review of the state's network. The December 2020 seminar heard from Phil Gray of the Department of Transport, Victoria and some of the WSP team (Tom Gardner and Athol Moore) on the draft LTS method developed and the tool.

The Victoria LTS methodology was informed by the original Mineta LTS method, the Oregon Department of Transportation's LTS method (2018 version), an overview of other methods for assessing level of service and traffic stress, and a review of the LTS method undertaken by WSP for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

The Victorian LTS methodology converted the Oregon LTS method to align with Australian standards, and developed new approaches to address some of the deficiencies of the Oregon method. The refinements to the method addressed major deficiencies in the Oregon method by:

  • Using road hierarchy rather than just traffic lanes as a proxy measure for traffic volumes

  • Recognising that major driveways, roundabouts and slip lanes result in traffic stress on cycle facilities separated from traffic

  • Recognising the contribution heavy vehicles, buses and trams have on traffic stress.

The interpretation of the LTS methodology is simplified using a spreadsheet tool that employs a user-friendly interface that is simple and intuitive to use. The method and tool includes examples to illustrate the different standard of facility, improving the intuitive use by enyone, not just engineers.

The DoT are in the process of testing the LTS methodology with practitioners and users to assess its validity. To get further information on the Victorian LTS method please contact:

Phil Gray, Vulnerable Road User Program Coordinator

Safer Roads – Transport Services

Department of Transport


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