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Does traffic really disappear when roads are closed?

Melia, Steven; Calvert, Thomas

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Steven Melia
Senior Lecturer in Transport Planning

Thomas Calvert
Research Fellow in Transport and Urban Planning


This article describes two studies which aimed to explore the impacts of pedestrianisation or road closures on traffic displacement, travel behaviour and the phenomenon of ‘disappearing traffic’. The first study surveyed residents whose travel routes were affected by a small-scale localised pedestrianisation scheme in the centre of a town. The second measured the traffic impacts of a temporary closure of a strategic bridge in a city centre. In the first case the pedestrianisation produced no change in the modal shares of residents’ travel. Drivers continued to drive to the same locations by longer routes. In the second case, the closure caused some traffic displacement and increased journey times but also reduced traffic volumes in both the immediate area and across the city. It concludes by discussing the remaining knowledge gaps on disappearing traffic, made more pressing by the decisions of authorities to reallocate road space during the COVID-19 crisis.


Melia, S., & Calvert, T. (2021). Does traffic really disappear when roads are closed?.

Conference Location Loughborough
Start Date Jul 5, 2021
End Date Jul 6, 2021
Publication Date Jul 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 13, 2021
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