Stuck at red: the rise and rise of traffic lights

Stuck at red: the rise and rise of traffic lights

Motorists are spending more time sitting at red lights as the number of traffic lights has risen sharply in recent years, according to a motoring charity.

A report for the RAC Foundation has revealed that the number of sets of lights increased by around 30 per cent between 2000 and 2008 to more than 25,000. In London this figure rose 23 per cent to more than 6,000.

The report produced by former Whitehall transport and planning chief Irving Yass also shows that the number of lights programmed to give priority to buses went up from 3,801 at the beginning of 2007 to 8,425 at the end of 2008, with 3,200 of these in the capital.

The number of junctions in London with a full pedestrian crossing stage - when all the lights for vehicles are at red - increased from 481 in 2000 to 783 in 2010.

The study concluded that traffic lights did deliver economic and safety benefits, but not at every location and not all of the time.

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Depending when and where you are, traffic lights can ease your journey or be a source of frustration.

"It is plain that lights have an important role to play but with ever more-congested streets they need to be very finely tuned to ensure they are not doing more harm than good - and that means they must react to changing traffic conditions."

The report noted that more use should be made of ‘smart’ traffic lights systems, such as SCOOT, which respond to changes in traffic and congestion by altering the timing of lights.

It also suggested that local authorities should review the lights they have and consider whether some could be removed and replaced with alternatives such as mini-roundabouts and shared space schemes.

Further reading:

http://www.racfoundation.org/

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