Continental-style traffic light junctions

StephenW
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Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby StephenW » 17 May 2018, 11:19pm

Roger Geffen has written the following blog post:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/consiste ... ouldnt-you

There is lots of good stuff in here which I strongly agree with.

However, one thing which I am not sure about, is the suggestion that we should have continental-style traffic light junctions. By this, I mean junctions where cars turning left (or right), have a green light at the same time as pedestrians (and cycles) crossing the road which they are turning in to. I am not sure if this is very good for pedestrians or cycles. I was reminded of this when I was back in Berlin a few weeks ago. I dislike the way that cars creep forwards while you are crossing, and zip past the moment you have stepped out of their path. Of course, there is an upside to this, which is that you don't have to wait so long for a green man, or cross in two stages. Nevertheless, I still don't like it too much. It is possible to create a junction where one doesn't have to cross in two stages, or have cars creeping towards one.

For cycling though, I think the situation is worse. Bikes appear much more quickly than pedestrians. I had a near-miss at traffic lights when cycling in Berlin once. At give-way junctions it is possible to put the cycleway on a speed hump to slow cars crossing it, but I don't think this could be done at a traffic light junction.

Also, this kind of traffic light junction is not necessary before cycleways can be constructed. At large junctions, cars turning left can be held at a red light while bikes and pedestrians are crossing. At small or large junctions the simultaneous green system can be used. This has the added advantage that any combination of bidirectional and unidirectional cycleways is possible. I think that both of these solutions are safer for cycling, more comfortable for pedestrians, and compatible with existing UK ways of doing things.

Thoughts?

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby Bmblbzzz » 17 May 2018, 11:36pm

This type of junction is not innately connected with cycle provision. As Geffen says, it's the standard way of arranging pedestrian crossings at junctions in many/most parts of Europe. Thus the vast majority of traffic light junctions where pedestrians get a green man simultaneously with traffic heading in (or rather from) the same direction, and turning traffic is expected/required to give way to pedestrians, have no cycle lanes or specific cycle provision at all. But where they do, obviously cyclists can cross in parallel with pedestrians and motor traffic.

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby Bmblbzzz » 17 May 2018, 11:46pm

Two more thoughts:
Green, as everyone knows, means go. But as we also know, it is supposed to mean go if your way is clear. Perhaps the frequent presence of pedestrians in your way would lead, over time, to green meaning at least "look and go".

He writes:
It will, however, be necessary to change the traffic signing rules so that it’s possible to indicate that drivers must give way to cycle track users and pedestrians when turning into a side-road, as well as turning out of it. The ‘Give way’ line in the example below is in fact a breach of the signing rules – a Give-way line on a two-way street should have centre-line markings leading up to it. In practice it works OK most of the time, but a well-publicised rule change would make it work a lot better.

Doubtless an explicit rule change would reinforce the meaning and the behaviour, but it is precisely this kind of "non-compliant" behaviour by HAs which can lead to rule changes.

brynpoeth
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby brynpoeth » 18 May 2018, 5:15am

The junctions are designed for highest vehicle capacity
At many crossroads with lights there are crossings only on three sides so one may have to wait three times to cross once
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby mjr » 18 May 2018, 8:20am

brynpoeth wrote:The junctions are designed for highest vehicle capacity
At many crossroads with lights there are crossings only on three sides so one may have to wait three times to cross once

No, the crossings are often staggered, so you often have to wait six or seven times, waiting at some for nearly a full cycle of lights! Advance cycle lights are better than those.
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby Bmblbzzz » 18 May 2018, 8:41am

The Continental junctions I'm familiar with are almost all single-stage. There is usually an island in the middle but the whole width of the road gets green man together. That's for pedestrians -- as I said above, cyclists are usually on the road. Which probably goes to show that with junctions as with most things, describing them as "Continental" hides a wealth of differences under a superficial similarity.

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby mjr » 18 May 2018, 11:52am

Bmblbzzz wrote:The Continental junctions I'm familiar with are almost all single-stage.

Ah sorry, I thought brynpoeth was referring to our current junctions, which often have crossings on only three sides, because the continental junctions I've seen generally have crossings on all four if there are footways reaching all four corners.
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby thirdcrank » 18 May 2018, 12:38pm

(I've not read the RG link.)

A few years ago there was discussion about installing pedestrian crossings in an X formation at light-controlled crossroads, so that pedestrians would be spared waiting twice. Although this had been done elsewhere in the world, I first heard about it from a local councillor who was one of a group campaigning for an all-red period to achieve just that. Presumably the highwaymen didn't like it since the diagonal crossing is longer than crossing a single carriageway.

Wanlock Dod
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby Wanlock Dod » 18 May 2018, 12:54pm

Giving way to people continuing in the same direction is normal for the continent so it's easy to see why these things don't transfer too well to Little Britain.
Personally I much prefer the all cyclists go on green approach, especially for very large, complex or dangerous junctions. It might mean a fairly long wait, but on balance I suspect it is probably worth it.

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby Bmblbzzz » 18 May 2018, 1:46pm

mjr wrote:
Bmblbzzz wrote:The Continental junctions I'm familiar with are almost all single-stage.

Ah sorry, I thought brynpoeth was referring to our current junctions, which often have crossings on only three sides, because the continental junctions I've seen generally have crossings on all four if there are footways reaching all four corners.

We have a crossroads with traffic lights in Bristol which only has crossings on two of the four sides. What the official procedure is if you arrive on the opposite corner, I don't know.

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby thirdcrank » 18 May 2018, 2:26pm

I have now read the RG link.

New guidelines will be just as useless as all those that have gone before if there's no mechanism for delivery.

I can't be certain, but I think that the pic with the caption "Grass verge separating a cycle track alongside a dual carriageway, York." shows a bit of the long-standing cycle paths alongside the A64 running much of the way from Tadcaster to Malton. I say long-standing because I first used them in the 1950's and they were by no means new then. On the subject of cyclists going ahead having priority over turning traffic, these bike tracks used to be laid out just like that (although not light-controlled, of course.) After decades of neglect, they were "improved" when the Highways Agency did a lot of other "improvements" and now GIVE WAY even at some private entrances. They are not well-maintained, with vegetation growing through the surface in some places.

Here's something I prepared earlier including a series of pics of these farcilities.

viewtopic.php?p=681031#p681031
==========================================================================
PS

I've remembered that earlier today while looking for something else, I found a site with various snippets of highways history. This is about a failed experiment to cater for the situation raised by the OP
http://www.cbrd.co.uk/articles/pedestri ... ment-ahead

brynpoeth
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby brynpoeth » 18 May 2018, 4:35pm

mjr wrote:
Bmblbzzz wrote:The Continental junctions I'm familiar with are almost all single-stage.

Ah sorry, I thought brynpoeth was referring to our current junctions, which often have crossings on only three sides, because the continental junctions I've seen generally have crossings on all four if there are footways reaching all four corners.

I was thinking of a new one in Luebeck, Geniner/Malmoestrasse
I think I might go and have a close look at some junctions, see exactly how they are built
There are often detailed media reports about junctions. Many were built years ago when the standards were different and would be built differently now
We have roundabouts too, in Luebeck they are called "Tellern" (plates) :wink:
Certainly capacity for motors is the highest priority, often the lights seem to have no sensors (timers instead or as well?), they do not let one cross even if there is no traffic
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby PRL » 18 May 2018, 4:46pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:Giving way to people continuing in the same direction is normal for the continent so it's easy to see why these things don't transfer too well to Little Britain.
Personally I much prefer the all cyclists go on green approach, especially for very large, complex or dangerous junctions. It might mean a fairly long wait, but on balance I suspect it is probably worth it.


One limitation is that that long wait will require a substantial reservoir for cyclists to wait to be allowed to cross. Only very large junctions are likely to have the space. Ideally these should have over/underpasses of good standard.
For more "common or garden" junctions the continental design saves time for everybody.

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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby MikeF » 19 May 2018, 8:03pm

These traffic lights here have an all red phase for pedestrians to cross. The dotted lines indicate pedestrians cross each arm, but there isn't any reason why pedestrians cannot cross diagonally as well, but most people seem conditioned to cross one arm at a time. :?

At some junctions an all red phase would be good for cyclists. There might be a slight chance of collisions, but generally cyclists can avoid each other.
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Re: Continental-style traffic light junctions

Postby atlas_shrugged » 21 May 2018, 9:54am

Also of note on the continent (Germany / Netherlands) is that motor vehicles have to give way to pedestrians / cyclists when turning at junctions.

We have a similar law here in the UK but it only applies to pedestrians / cyclists who are already crossing a minor junction. IMHO our continental friends have this right, especially since in the event of a collision it establishes automatic liability (the French have presumed liability as a default).