Interactive web tool helps participatory design of LTNs

A/B Street is an open source web tool designed to help citizens and Council officers play around with ideas on how best to implement a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

The project started in collaboration with Bristol City Council, who were aiming to engage with residents in East Bristol in designing a Liveable Neighbourhood in their area

The Turing Institute reports:

To capture Bristol residents’ needs, BCC launched a process with three phases: co-discover, co-develop, and co-design.

First, they collected feedback through online citizen engagement platform Commonplace, and paper surveys, on residents’ current experiences of their neighbourhood, aggregated on a digital map.

Second, they invited a diverse group of residents to attend virtual and in-person sessions to learn about the different street design options, and propose ideas based on their priorities. To reach people who may not typically attend public consultations, such as those new to the UK or who don’t speak English as their first language, BCC worked directly with volunteers (‘community champions’) in ethnic minority communities.

Third, BCC will now analyse these resident designs and work with traffic engineers to propose two schemes to pilot in East Bristol in 2023.

To facilitate the participation of citizens, BCC used the A/B Street tool

This interactive web tool allows anyone to visualise how small street changes, such as redirecting car traffic from certain residential streets, will affect the route options of cyclists, pedestrians and drivers. In other words, it provides a shared canvas for residents, planners and policy makers to suggest, discuss and evaluate street designs. With a similar look and feel to other mapping apps, A/B Street can make creating a street design as easy as planning a route on Open Street Maps. Beyond usability, the tool’s map-based interface also helps BCC to answer questions that it has struggled to answer in the past, such as “where will traffic divert if we make a change on this street?”.

The A/B Street team is now working with planners and residents on street-design projects in places as varied as Islington, Taipei and Seattle.