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BBC claims TfL to test lights that let pedestrians know how long they've got to cross the road...

American-style pedestrian crossings with lights that show a countdown of how long is left to safely cross the road are set to be trialled in London, according to BBC News, which says that it has seen leaked documents confirming that the concept is set to be tested in eight locations around the capital, including Balham, Blackfriars and Holborn.

The scheme is reportedly being tested after a survey by Transport for London (TfL) found that a significant proportion of pedestrians did not know how much time they had left to cross the road once the green man started flashing.

Pedestrian crossings showing how many seconds remain before the traffic lights change are common in the US – the one pictured is in Cupertino, California, technology giant Apple’s home town – and the BBC says that TfL is due to announce the trial in London on 21 June, and hopes to test the lights at other locations.

BBC News adds that the TfL study’s authors found “research showed many pedestrians assume the only safe time to cross is when the green man is displayed at junctions.”

The report continued: "In fact, the green man only signals the invitation to start crossing the road, and the blackout period that follows continues to give people the right of way.

"This means even if a pedestrian steps off the kerb as the green man signal goes out and the blackout period begins, they still have enough time to cross the road before traffic starts to move."

The trial crossings will be closely watched by TfL, and the report says it “hopes to be in a position to consider introducing the Pedestrian Countdown systems at additional junctions across London."

However, the BBC found at least one Londoner who gave the idea a lukewarm reception, Andrew Bowden, who said "I saw one of these in Dublin. It kind of made me feel rather stressed in an 'Only 30 seconds to cross, must hurry up' way."
 

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

8 comments

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swldxer [84 posts] 7 years ago
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I used these in Romania last year. Very useful as sometimes you could choose to walk to another crossing that had fewer seconds remaining on the display.

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gandberg [175 posts] 7 years ago
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They also have these in China, both to let pedestrians know how long to wait, and for cars and other road uses too. Theyre pretty good, you know exactly when to stomp the pedals or drop the clutch.

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Mike McBeth [74 posts] 7 years ago
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I'd like to know why it is that pedestrians have to push a button and then wait (perhaps in the cold, wet etc) while cars continue to hurtle past? Pedestrian crossings really seemed designed to enable cars drivers to carry on driving (often at high speeds), rather than stop to allow people to cross roads. Why shouldn't car drivers have to push buttons and wait? Roads management need to be re-prioritised in favour of pedestrians and cyclists. For example pedestrian crossing should turn from green to amber, then red as soon as someone pushes the button to indicate that they want to cross the road. Crossings should all be fitted with cameras, too, and the owner of any vehicle going through a crossing on amber or red should be prosecuted - this would have the affect of slowing traffic down as it approached crossings rather than speeding it up as often happens nowadays. This proposal is not really going to do much positive to affect road safety as far as I can see.

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neilwheel [133 posts] 7 years ago
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We've got one of them 'doon the toon' in Glasgow (unless it's been ripped out in the last couple of weeks) on the corner of Argyle Street and Queen Street - a busy city centre junction.
It seems to work. You won't see too many attempting a Usain Bolt-style dash across the road just as a flying 61 bus takes the corner if they know the lights are going to be turning green in their favour in a few seconds time.

Should be more of them.

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dave atkinson [6330 posts] 7 years ago
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Quote:

Pedestrian crossings really seemed designed to enable cars drivers to carry on driving (often at high speeds), rather than stop to allow people to cross roads

when i was at uni i used to visit some mates in nottingham and the traffic lights on the big roundabout outside campus (a busy road) always changed as soon as you pressed the button. always. it was ace, we always used to wait until there was some traffic  1

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amazon22 [282 posts] 7 years ago
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We've got a crossing at the end of our road - I've complained about how long the lights take to change - the Council claim they're set to change within 20 seconds of the button being pressed (although it seems longer than that - basically until there is no traffic!) and that’s the least amount they're allowed to use. This of course is a lie - other crossings will change as soon as the button is pressed - as evidenced by dave_atkinson above.

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John_the_Monkey [438 posts] 7 years ago
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It's an odd idea in the UK where pedestrians are supposed to have priority over other traffic. Not that any drivers know/take any notice of that.

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Tony Farrelly [2911 posts] 7 years ago
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yeah Dave was spoiled on his visit to Nottingham - some of the crossings in Bath take so long to let pedestrians cross, that I often seriously start to wonder if they are broken, set off across the road only for them to finally change when I'm either half way across or, more usually, when I'm already on the other side.