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"Increase green man traffic light time!"


The green man traffic light gives pedestrians just 10 seconds to cross the average road! Maria McCarthy wants more time. Do you? 

Puffin crossing green man traffic light

I hate feeling rushed when technology and automated systems try to make me go faster than I comfortably can.

Those self-service supermarket checkouts for example, which are always nagging me to remove my items from the bagging area. 

So when I heard about the Give Us More Time to Cross campaign run by pedestrian charity Living Streets I was sympathetic. 

Their aim is for the green man time at pedestrian crossings to be increased by three seconds, giving older people and those with mobility problems or pushing buggies more time to cross.

How are crossing times calculated?

Crossing times haven't been reviewed since the 1950s and the current green man time is based on the Department for Transport's (DfT) assumed walking speed of 1.2m per second. 

On an average road the green man will stay lit for around four seconds and then has a flashing or blackout stage for around six seconds. 

That gives pedestrians just 10 seconds to cross the road! 

For roads more than 6m wide, an extra second is added for each additional 1.2m. 

However, research by University College London (UCL) has revealed that more than three-quarters of people aged 65 and older are unable to walk at 1.2m per second.

UCL has recommended that the DfT should use an assumed walking speed of 0.8m per second instead.

Two main types of crossings

With pelican crossings, crossing times are pre-determined. Puffin crossings use sensors to detect if people are on the crossing and lengthen, shorten or cancel the green man time accordingly.

Pelican crossings have the green man on a pole on the opposite side of the road.

With puffin crossings the green man is on a pole to the right of you. Apparently one of the benefits of this is to encourage people to look towards oncoming traffic.

Now, the good news is that pelican crossings are being phased out in favour of puffins. 

But the bad news is that the schedule for this is the next 15 to 20 years. So no loitering when crossing the road just yet. Indeed - in some areas, crossing times are being reduced. 

pedestrian cyclist green traffic light

'Motorists prioritised over pedestrians'

Anna Collins, policy co-ordinator at Living Streets, says: "Green man time has been cut to six seconds in 568 locations across London since 2010.

"It is a case of motor traffic being prioritised over pedestrians. 

"But our Give us Time to Cross campaign has been one of the most popular we have ever run, and proves that people value feeling safe when they cross the road."

"We are urging people to write to the transport minister Robert Goodwill asking for an urgent review of the assumed walking speed."

Where have the bleeps gone?

We are all familiar with the tactile paving underfoot that allows a blind person to know that they've arrived at a crossing, and the bleeping sound to let pedestrians know they can cross. 

However, crossings near junctions don't bleep. This is because a blind person might hear bleeps belonging to the other crossing and think it was safe to step out. 

At these crossings there should always be a tactile indicator - a cone situated on the underside of the box - which rotates when the green man shows, indicating that it is safe to cross. 

These can be found at lots of other crossings too – I've been checking for them! 

Safer streets

A relatively new development in the UK is countdown crossings, which tell people how long they have to cross the road once the green man has gone out.

These have now been installed at about 550 crossings throughout London. 

Of course, in response to an increased green man time there will be the argument that it will increase journey time. 

But as far as I'm concerned, three seconds per crossing is a price I'm willing to pay for safer streets. 


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