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Green man at traffic light, London
Photograph: William Barton /

Why have extra seconds been added to the green man when crossing the road?

Pedestrians now have 20 percent longer to get from one side of the road to the other

Amy Houghton
Written by
Amy Houghton

Apparently as a nation we are less fit than we once were. So much so, in fact, that we need more time to get from one side of the road to the other. 

Right now, Brits have 6.1 seconds to cross both lanes of a road, at an average pace of 1.2 metres a second. But those guidelines were created in the 1950, back when the country was adapting to a rapid rise in motor. Since then, the UK population has changed a hell of a lot and, it seems, become a lot slower. 

The Department of Transport has issued new guidelines that will bring the crossing time at traffic lights up to 7.3 seconds, meaning a pace of one metre per second. This means that the green figure will light up for 20 percent longer. 

It is hoped that the increase will benefit elderly and disabled pedestrians as well as encourage more people to walk and help meet government targets intended to foster ‘lifestyle changes that keep us more active and fit’. Research by University College London found that 76 percent of men and 85 percent of women aged 65 and older were unable to use crossings safely because their walking speed was slower than 1.2m per second. 

Brian Deegan, director of inspections at Active Travel England said: ‘If we don’t give people enough time, they are going to feel they can’t cross the road and that will leave some people feeling that they can’t leave their own house if they don’t have a car. We are going to have to meet people where they are.’

The changes will happen first on a pilot basis and be put out to consultation in September. 

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