London will become the first city in the world to introduce smart pedestrian crossings

'Smart' crossing gives more time to large groups

Trials of a new kind of ‘intelligent’ pedestrian crossing will begin in London in the coming months, in an effort to make it easier and safer for people to cross busy roads.

Transport for London’s introduction of the ‘pedestrian SCOOT’ system is the first of its kind in the world and uses state-of-the-art video camera technology to detect how many pedestrians are at a crossing.

Developed by research organisation TRL, it enables the automatic adjustment of traffic signal timings to extend the green pedestrian invitation-to-cross phase when large numbers of people are waiting.

In addition, TRL is working on a ‘call cancel’ technology, which can detect when someone who has pushed the crossing button has either crossed before the signal goes green or walked away, and therefore cancels the pedestrian crossing phase.

This initiative follows on from the successful introduction of Pedestrian Countdown technology, which tells people how long they still have left to cross the road after the ‘green man’ symbol has switched off.

Around 550 crossings at 200 locations across 30 London boroughs have now been equipped with Pedestrian Countdown, with TfL committed to install the technology more widely across the capital in the coming years.

SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique) was developed in the UK as an adaptive traffic control system, and is widely used on urban road networks. It uses data from vehicle detectors to optimise traffic flow by adjusting signal timings automatically in response to variation in demand.

The first trials of pedestrian SCOOT will take place on crossings outside Balham and Tooting Bec Underground stations this summer to allow TfL to fully test the sensors and how they interact with the existing vehicle SCOOT system.

If the trial is successful, TfL would like to see technology developed further for use at other areas with high footfall, such as outside sporting venues or along busy high streets.

Gavin Jackman, TRL’s head of traffic and software, said: “We are grateful to Transport for London for spearheading this technology and very excited about this development that will take SCOOT further into being a mode neutral, policy driven traffic management system.”

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