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SOBETMA: Environmental Traffic Management and the South Birmingham Study

The conference paper highlighted the innovative aspects of the SOBETMA study of South Birmingham. It was presented jointly by Ken Huddart, Alan Wenban-Smith and Tim Pharoah.

The principle was that urban main roads should be managed and designed to reflect their different functions. Aside from being important traffic routes, urban main roads typically pass through communities which host social, retail and other activities at certain locations.

An innovative aspect was that the road classification should be discontinuous, and reflect the changing balance between traffic and other functions throughout the network. Moreover, the design of the road should vary to reflect the relative priority to be given to "living" and traffic functions. There were to be three basic categories, namely traffic priority, living priority and mixed priority.

Traffic speed and driver behaviour can be moderated (calmed) according to the classification of each part of the network, and the layout and designs of the public realm varied to suit each locality. 

This approach has now become widely accepted (see for example "Manual for Streets 2"), but it was SOBETMA that first demonstrated the logic back in 1993.

Paper TitleSOBETMA, Environmental Traffic Management and the South Birmingham Study
Paper AuthorKen W Huddart (MVA Consultancy), Alan Wenban-Smith (Birmingham City Council), Tim Pharoah (South Bank University)
Conference Details PTRC Summer Annual Meeting Manchester September 16th, 1993


SOBETMA, South Birmingham, environmental traffic management, road safety, mixed priority, living areas, high street