In contrast to previous years, shared spaces are experiencing a renaissance in the city- and traffic planning at the present time. The strategy to strictly separate different traffic modes (i.e. by subway tunnels) is less frequently adopted by traffic planners – both due to a change in ideology and to limited funding of local administrations. On the other hand, the number of shared spaces has increased in rural areas and city centers, making all the road user (private and public transport, cyclists, pedestrians) interact on a more human level end enjoy the space.
The evaluation of the traffic safety and the efficiency of these traffic areas has a high sociopolitical and also an economic-technical importance. However, the multiplicity and diversity of solutions of shared spaces actually existing all over the world and the difficulty to define common performance indicators make it hard for traffic engineers to predict and evaluate the operation of shared spaces. For this reason, an appropriate micro-simulation tool for modeling the behavior of road users in these areas is needed, in order to provide clear answers regarding the value of a shared space design rather than a classic layout.
The primary aim of this project is the development of a multimodal "Social Forces Model" for all traffic modes, in order to simulate the operation of shared areas and to evaluate their efficiency and safety, with particular focus on the mechanisms of interaction between road users. Moreover, the challenge is to deal with shared spaces with high traffic volume, complex geometry and/or a high potential for conflicts among road users.