Altered traffic light timings

"The longer you have to wait on a red light the more annoyed you are by driving. My idea for a Sensitive Intervention Point (SIP) would see local governments increase the green light time for pedestrians and cyclists in cities nationwide and ""stack"", such that bicycle-specific lights turn green significantly earlier than the general traffic lights do.

Similar schemes for pedestrians have already been trialled in London (https://www.wired.co.uk/article/traffic-lights-uk-london) and for cyclists in Oxford on the corner of Longwall Street and High Street. However, a conscious nationwide rollout and coordination would have a beneficial effect far beyond these individual schemes.

The feedback dynamic could proceed as follows:
1. Drivers wait longer and see cyclists and pedestrians able to move before they can drive
2. Cycling or walking becomes relatively more attractive (for reasons similar to what drives people to change car lanes [the other lane seems to be moving faster])
3. More cyclists mean more time is needed to let bikes through ahead of cars and the traffic lights need to be adjusted again

An additional feature could see a button for green light on demand (like the pedestrian traffic light buttons) that would be easily accessible for cyclists but not drivers (e.g. located on a traffic light pole).

An attractive feature of this solution is that it is flexible and does not require new infrastructure. In the medium- to long-term cars will be source of fewer emissions as countries introduce targets for bans of petrol and diesel cars sales. Hence, changing infrastructure completely might be a costly investment if in the long-run cars will not contribute to GHG emissions. However, new EV registrations in the UK for 2019 constituted only 3% , hence limiting the attractiveness of driving is still imperative."

 

Actor(s)

Local government

 

Trigger (intervention)

 

Criticality

 

Feedback Dynamics

 

Timescale and scaleability

 

Resistance

 

Author

Barbara Piotrowska

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