A circulation plan is a schematic empirical projection/model of how people and/or vehicles flow through a given area.
Circulation plans are used by i.e. by city planners and other officials (such as county planning officials, ...) to manage and monitor traffic and pedestrian patterns in such a way that they might discover how to make future improvements to the system.
New multi-family residential developments, for example, introduce increased volume (and thus density) of traffic flows into their vicinity. City planners might analyze this projected impact and justify charging higher impact fees. In other cases, local residents lobbying against a new development might use circulation plans to justify the denial of a development's building permit, citing decreased quality due to overcrowding, noise pollution, traffic, and so on.
Good city planners do their best to use main thoroughfares and so on to draw commuter traffic out of local neighborhoods (where excessive traffic is seen by local voters as undesirable) and onto larger roads, which often utilize considerable buffers like setback land and vegetation to divorce non-local (commuter) traffic from local (neighborhood) traffic.
The planning for internal circulation of people is also important in buildings. Signage can help with wayfinding and should be located at decision points and perpendicular to the path of travel.
- Fisher, Brueggman; 'Real Estate Finance and Investments', 14th edition. Chapter 16, "Project Development"
- Planning for internal circulation in buildings