Thursday, 8 April 2010

Broad Quay Signalling

A contribution from "dempster", along with some commentary. This is Broad Quay, where the council stole car, truck and even taxi access a few years back. Now it is for buses and cyclists. Our contributor raises a question about pedestrians.

"These lights have intrigued me for a while, as I have stood waiting at them on my bike, and watched as the green man turns red and then back to green again, without the lights for vehicles changing at all. I assumed this was a piece of radical anti-cycling infrastructure, lights that only turn green for motor vehicles. But the other day I waited there at the same time as an ambulance, and we both ended up skipping the lights as they never changed.

And then shortly after I took this photo, the bus in it skipped the lights. I don't think it waited long enough to work out that the lights would never turn green, presumably the driver knows this already. Although I'm sure I have seen it turn green for buses before.

So my two remaining questions are: What is it that triggers the lights to go green for vehicles? and What's the point of having a phase of the lights where it is red for both pedestrians and vehicles? Why not just leave the pedestrian lights on the green man? I suppose the answer to the second question is that we don't want pedestrians to feel like they can just cross roads willy-nilly. They need to learn to wait."
We think the reason is more subtle. Because the bus drivers know to ignore the signs, their sole purpose is to lure pedestrians out in front of buses. This reduces the number of pedestrians (good) and ensures that the bus schedules are always wrong (good). It also reinforces a fear of walking which helps the rest of the city's drivers.


2wheelpaint said...

I noticed the strange design and traffic light sequence a while ago. this is the only crossing i have ever seen at which the left signal turns green for buses and at the same time the right signal stays red and then sometimes changes to green why? this makes it dangerous for pedestrians and i emailed the council about this ages ago pointing out how dangerous it it and questioning the legality of such a crossing but what a surprise no reply or action. I cannot see how this crossing is legally correct.

Ben said...

I don't think there is a phase where the lights are red for both pedestrians and traffic (apart from the usual changeover period); at the moment the observer describes, the *oncoming* traffic signal would have been green.

For some reason the two directions of vehicular traffic have signals that are not in sync. I don't fully understand why buses should be able to cross the oncoming traffic coming off Baldwin St and move onto Broad Quay, while those coming in the other direction cannot do the same. I think perhaps buses moving onto Broad Quay are allowed to cross the Baldwin St traffic whenever possible, not just when that stream is stopped by the Baldwin St pedestrian lights, whereas traffic leaving Broad Quay is not trusted to give way like this and is forced to obey the lights at the crossing in question.

The upshot of this is that the traffic light coming off Broad Quay can only be green when the Baldwin St. pedestrian lights have stopped the traffic, whereas the light leading onto Broad Quay only needs to be red when pedestrians have the green man.

Whatever the reasons, it certainly leads to a dangerous confusion of impatient pedestrians!

HatsAndBikes said...

Google 'Induction Loop'.

They don't usually work for cycles (not enough metal).

I've been hooted by buses at these lights to move forward (into the crossing) so that they can move onto the loops and activate the lights. Obviously, I wasn't in the 4x4 at the time.

Favourite loop? M25.

SteveL said...

There's an induction loop going in on the Farm Pub path as it approaches the Muller Road crossing...

emma said...

This crossing was redesigned to make it "less dangerous" following some serious accidents but it now causes nothing but confusion. I too wrote to the council about it and after re-sending my message each month for 3 months got a "yes we know" response. I also pointed it out to Jon Rogers who told me the chief traffic engineer in the city reckons that is one of the most dangerous in the central area... It is still the same and nothing has been done... When a pedestrian gets knocked over by a bus (when one or both of them have jumped a red) something may get done about it....

SteveL said...

I wonder what is wrong with a zebra crossing?

emma said...

A zebra would be equally confused here - it wouldn't know where to look.

But seriously I imagine the response would be that guidance from the dept of transport wouldn't let it - rather they want to control the situation rather than allowing any need for judgements.

quercus said...

Zebra crossings are bad for cars.

They encourage eye contact, and are therefore dangerous.

What's worse, of course, is that Zebra Crossings interrupt traffic flow.

Which is why any traffic engineer's preference is for controlled crossings. And a proper 'No Jay Walking' law.

Remember people: congestion is bad.