There’s nothing more annoying than waiting at a pedestrian crossing that just won’t turn green. And Londoners know: we’re famous for our cut-throat pavement behaviour. In this city you walk fast or face the consequences.
To sate Londoners’ appetites for speedy journeys (and to keep us safer), TfL has piloted a new ‘pedestrian priority’ scheme that is the first of its kind in the UK. In May 2021, it implemented 18 new crossings around the city, where instead of waiting for the green man signal to cross the road, the crossing was permanently green, only turning red when the sensor detected a vehicle nearby.
The results of the trial were encouraging. What’s brilliant is that this appeared to be good for both drivers and pedestrians and it saved us oodles of time – the average crossing was green for an extra 56 minutes a day and pedestrians saved 1.3 hours daily. TfL’s data also showed that there was virtually no impact on traffic and pedestrians were 13 percent more likely comply with traffic signals, reducing the risk of accidents.
This is all part of TfL’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan to make London roads safer by eradicating all deaths and accidents on our streets by 2041. TfL is looking to cities like Oslo and Helsinki as examples: both had zero road deaths in 2019.
In 2021, London road deaths reached a record low of 75 people, although serious injuries increased, most likely down to traffic returning to normal levels post-pandemic. According to a report by TfL, road deaths fell by 22 percent, while injuries rose by 18 percent. People most vulnerable were pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Following the success of the traffic light trial, TfL is looking into how the crossings could be installed across the city.
Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: ‘Making our streets safer is key to enabling more people to switch more trips from cars to walking. I’m delighted that this innovative new technology is making pedestrian crossings safer and more convenient for people walking. I look forward to seeing how it can be rolled out to benefit other locations soon.’