Event planning can be a complicated business, especially when there’s traffic involved. From pedestrian safety, to parking, to setting up detours and alternative routes, traffic management is an essential part of event planning.
What events need a traffic strategy?
For most public events you will need to consider traffic management. Any events that use a portion of a road, like fun runs and parades, will require a traffic strategy.
Other events like festivals, sporting matches, school fetes and markets may not use road space, but there will still be some serious considerations that affect traffic, like parking, crowd management, increased pedestrian flow and increased public transport usage.
Getting permission for your event
If you think your event will require a traffic strategy, you need to get permission from the relevant government authority. This could be VicRoads or your local council. It depends on the road as to which authority you’ll have to speak with. VicRoads handle major roads, including highways, while the local council will handle smaller ones.
In most cases, you’ll need to apply for a permit with the relevant authority before you can hold an event.
Setting up and packing down
You’ll need to consider the traffic ramifications not just during the event but before and after the event. The event set up may involve large vehicles disrupting traffic while marquees, rides and other event materials are set up.
Make sure there is plenty of room for large vehicles to safely park, turn around and reverse while causing minimal disruption to traffic. Check all vehicle access and entry points to ensure all vehicles can fit through and that vehicle access won’t disrupt traffic or endanger pedestrians.
Finally, make sure your event permit takes into account the time needed for setting up and packing down.
The nature of your event will affect how you need to handle traffic. However, there are some must-haves for all kinds of events. For instance, try and keep roads one-way so traffic flows freely. These roads will need to have sufficient space for emergency vehicles to access the event as well.
Additionally, any traffic routes need to have clear visibility at intersections to prevent accidents. It can help to clearly signpost where traffic can and cannot go, as well as the speed limit.
You may need to organise alternative traffic routes if your event is using the road or you expect increased traffic from your event. Make sure these are clearly signposted for other road users.
To ensure safety and smooth traffic flow, it helps to staff all areas with traffic monitors. This includes people to monitor and direct car parking, monitor pedestrian crossings and direct traffic at intersections as necessary.
Ideally, onsite parking should be used by workers’ first and then attendees. Offsite parking can then be for attendees. However, you will need to manage pedestrian safety so attendees can walk to the event.
Make sure all parking is clearly marked and signed to avoid confusion. It should also be well-lit for everyone’s safety. Don’t forget to include parking spaces for disabled and other special needs attendees.
Remember that not everyone will be driving to your event and parking their cars. Some attendees may be dropped off. So your parking and traffic plans will also need to incorporate pick-up and drop-off zones. There should be enough waiting space so that parked cars do not interfere with the flow of traffic. This area should be clearly signposted. You may need to hire security to ensure people don’t simply park and leave their cars in this space.
Lots of steps need to be taken to ensure a safe separation of pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Using physical barriers between pedestrian and vehicle areas is essential. Clear signposting should be used to designate pedestrian and vehicle areas and ground markings to help direct foot traffic.
If you have off-site parking or attendees will be accessing the event using public transport, incorporate this into your plan. Staff members should be at both sites to direct pedestrians safely to the event.
Keeping everyone safe
Pedestrian management doesn’t end once attendees reach your event’s site. You also need to plan for crowd safety, particularly around entries and exits. You don’t want a crowd to form as people try to get in. Otherwise, people may be accidently injured either by other attendees or pushed into oncoming traffic.
To prevent a crowd from forming, have multiple entries and exits that are clearly marked. It should be easy to tell an entry from an exit at a distance. Ensure gates open on time and have security and staff ready to greet guests and move them into the event efficiently.
Organising any event is a big undertaking. And while there’s lots to take care of, don’t underestimate the importance of managing traffic and pedestrians. Otherwise, it may be difficult for anyone to get to your event safely.