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A Discussion of Road Safety Issues at Airport Terminal Pick-up and Drop-off Areas


With a natural resource rich economy, Calgary has experienced unprecedented growth over recent years. The economic growth of the region is reflected in air travel through the Calgary International Airport (YYC) which is estimated to have handled over 15 million passengers in 2014.
The current airport terminal, which handles all scheduled passenger flights, was first opened in 1977. The increased passenger flows have necessitated various expansions and upgrades to the existing terminal building. Furthermore, demand has required the construction of a new international terminal to be opened in 2016, at which time the existing terminal will be reconfigured to handle domestic flights only.
With the growth and expansion of the airport terminals, the Arrivals pick-up and Departures drop-off areas have seen a substantial increase in traffic volumes over the years. Since the new international terminal will be an extension to the current Arrivals and Departures roadways, the pressures on these roads are expected to increase over time. Hence, concerns have been raised regarding the transportation safety of these roadways.
Airport terminal pick-up and drop-off areas are unique in various aspects of road safety. For example, it can be expected that driver familiarity will be very low for many drivers and conversely very high for other drivers, such as commercial operators and taxi drivers. Furthermore, the driver workload is arguably high given the pressure to navigate towards the preferred entrance to the terminal building, finding a place to stop for pick-up or drop-off, vehicles entering and exiting traffic flow from the curb lane, and a heavy volume of pedestrian crossings. Finally these areas can be confusing given the short distances, complex traffic movements, limited sight lines and often large amount of signage; thus resulting in a potentially high safety risk environment.
This paper will review the safety of the aforementioned roadways at the Calgary International Airport using extensive field observations and interviews with key airport staff. The Canadian Guide to In-service Road Safety Reviews, published by the Transportation Association of Canada, will be used as a starting point for the review. However, the primary focus of the paper is to identify any road safety issues at the Calgary International Airport that may also be relevant to many other airports. Suggestions for improvements will be made that may be applicable to YYC and many airports around the world.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Active Transportation Safety
Lo, J.
Road safety