Author Topic: You voted for him, you got him...  (Read 6012 times)

Sir Tifiable

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #25 on: March 12, 2009, 09:02:26 am »
Are not the 'key' lights controllable by a central computer system? I thought it was possible to make on-demand changes to the lights.
According to my sister, who has worked for various highways departments, you can override many lights from the central control room for the area. She once described to me watching as a controller gave one of their staff a green wave to get to a meeting, watching him on traffic cameras & switching the lights as he approached.

Of course, they wouldn't do that when traffic was heavy. Cause far too much disruption.

But - and it's a big but - inadequately planned changes to phasing of lights could cause chaos. It's all right doing a bit of ad hoc manual overriding, but making permanent changes without carefully modelling the consequences has some of the same risks as trying to repair a watch with a hammer. Get wrong - cue gridlock.

Yes, that's what I thought was possible.

Assuming there was some modelling of the traffic behaviour (and there must be TONS of data available about how the flows / lack of flows work now), then it sounds like a good idea. Unless it's already completely optimised, which seems very unlikely.

Sir Tifiable

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #26 on: March 12, 2009, 09:06:18 am »
We could usefully get rid of that completely unnecessary waiting at a red pelican crossing after the pedestrian has gone. If it were a much quicker, or instantaneous, change to green man the situation would arise much less. That would speed up both pedestrian and vehicle flow.

Likewise we could get rid of the completely unnecessary waiting that a pedestrian has to do when they press the button at a crossing. You go up to a crossing, press the button, then watch as a procession of cars driven by people that were finishing their breakfast at home when you got there flashes past. Eventually the software says "OK - let's go to Green for Peds".

I've used a crossing which has two parts; one for pedestrians, and another for horses. Pressing the button on the horse crossing makes the lights change immediately, whereas the pedestrians have to wait. Why? It's handy when riding (either horse or bike  ;) ) to use the horse crossing, but if it's acceptable to stop the traffic for the neds, lest they get uppity waiting for the cars, then why not for the other crossing? As a driver too, it makes no difference how long before the lights change - one wouldn't know when the button was pressed, so why not just make it happen straightaway?


Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #27 on: March 12, 2009, 09:10:21 am »
I get very annoyed about the length of time it takes for ped. and cyclists crossings to stop motor traffic in Southend. The crossing I use the most is about 200 yards from junctions in either direction, where traffic is likely to be queuing anyway, so if the lights changed instantly when the button is pressed, then there would be little likelihood of extra delay for anyone.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #28 on: March 12, 2009, 09:16:27 am »
Well, I suppose there's the danger that someone could stand and keep pressing it, and screw up the traffic completely!

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #29 on: March 12, 2009, 09:20:24 am »
There is actually one instant-reponse ped crossing in Southend. It's between a pile of rubble where several acres of former Access credit card offices have been demolished and our local park.

Hardly anyone uses it now. The office workers, RBS staff, have been moved to a beautiful (?) new out-of-town complex, so they all drive to work.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Sir Tifiable

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2009, 09:24:33 am »
Well, I suppose there's the danger that someone could stand and keep pressing it, and screw up the traffic completely!

That's possible, but easy to defeat in software. There can be a minimum time allowed for the traffic to flow.

I was thinking there would be no reason for the waiting where the crossing is little used, and provided as a way to safely cross a busy/fast road. In heavily pedestrian use areas, I imagine the button would be pressed frequently anyway, so leading to a default sharing of the right of way based on time slices.

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2009, 09:28:23 am »
I thought BoJo said the congestion charge didn't work, and now he's saying he wants to reduce pedestrian crossing time once he takes away some of the zone.  He must have been talking bollocks then, since he clearly expects an increase in traffic as a result of reducing the zone.

Since I rarely drive my car in London, I'm quite happy if there's a shed load more congestion.  It's not going to have much effect on me on the bike, and it's going to be much better at getting people out of their cars and onto bikes when they see all of us leaving them behind in the traffic.

I do think disadvantaging pedestrians in favour of the all-ruling car is contemptible though.  And I'm not even a bearded lentil soup drinker like some of the more extreme on this forum.
Your Royal Charles are belong to us.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2009, 09:29:26 am »
Wandsworth's pedestrian crossings seem to have particularly loooong delays for pedestrians.

I pass a lot of pelicans on my route to work.  I often see people unable to cross in the time available, and cars (and, i am ashamed to say, bikes) streaming across the crossing as soon as the lights change with a complete disregard for the pedestrians.  Shortening the cycle, or spreading them out will have disastrous effects. More people will get fed up waiting and just cross anyway, and more people will get trapped on the crossing, as more will have built up in each cycle.
Getting there...

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #33 on: March 12, 2009, 09:30:18 am »

That's possible, but easy to defeat in software. There can be a minimum time allowed for the traffic to flow.

I was thinking there would be no reason for the waiting where the crossing is little used, and provided as a way to safely cross a busy/fast road. In heavily pedestrian use areas, I imagine the button would be pressed frequently anyway, so leading to a default sharing of the right of way based on time slices.

I thought that was what already happened - if you get there and noone has used it for a wee while, you get to cross fast - but if it's recently been used, you'll have a wait. That's always how I've experienced it but I might have made it all up in my head!

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #34 on: March 12, 2009, 09:34:20 am »

That's possible, but easy to defeat in software. There can be a minimum time allowed for the traffic to flow.

I was thinking there would be no reason for the waiting where the crossing is little used, and provided as a way to safely cross a busy/fast road. In heavily pedestrian use areas, I imagine the button would be pressed frequently anyway, so leading to a default sharing of the right of way based on time slices.

I thought that was what already happened - if you get there and noone has used it for a wee while, you get to cross fast - but if it's recently been used, you'll have a wait. That's always how I've experienced it but I might have made it all up in my head!

Round us it makes no difference when it was last pressed, it depends on whether there are any cars about. There'll be some Traffic Engineer reason for it no doubt, but it actually weakens crossings because you end up looking for a gap in the traffic and crossing, or pressing the button, crossing, and hearing the bloody thing pip pip pip away stopping traffic for no one.


If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Sir Tifiable

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #35 on: March 12, 2009, 09:38:49 am »
They could usefully display a count-down of seconds to go before the lights change. I've seen this in another country (but can't recall where), and it appeared to be a good idea to me.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2009, 09:39:45 am »

That's possible, but easy to defeat in software. There can be a minimum time allowed for the traffic to flow.

I was thinking there would be no reason for the waiting where the crossing is little used, and provided as a way to safely cross a busy/fast road. In heavily pedestrian use areas, I imagine the button would be pressed frequently anyway, so leading to a default sharing of the right of way based on time slices.

I thought that was what already happened - if you get there and noone has used it for a wee while, you get to cross fast - but if it's recently been used, you'll have a wait. That's always how I've experienced it but I might have made it all up in my head!

Round us it makes no difference when it was last pressed, it depends on whether there are any cars about. There'll be some Traffic Engineer reason for it no doubt, but it actually weakens crossings because you end up looking for a gap in the traffic and crossing, or pressing the button, crossing, and hearing the bloody thing pip pip pip away stopping traffic for no one.

The crossing I use most is just like that. If there's no traffic coming, I cross, whatever colour of little man is displayed. Because the traffic is broken up by lights not far away, these gaps can be quite lengthy. Conversely, so are the streams of moving traffic.

I think it's quite acceptable to delay a motorist for a minute or two at traffic lights - after all, if it wasn't for the bloody cars we wouldn't need the bloody lights - but minimum delay should be a perk of walking and cycling.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2009, 09:40:45 am »
We whinge about RLJers all the time, you don't think people do that because they're waiting at lights with no one crossing?

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2009, 09:43:05 am »
'...where they think there's no one crossing'

I frequently see a Road Warrior Ninja or whatever zooming through a red light at a crossing, just as pedestrians come into view round the front of a truck/bus/whatever.  Plonkers.
Getting there...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #39 on: March 12, 2009, 09:44:32 am »
Oh yes, I do. I don't do it in the car, but I'm on my bike and I've waited at red at my local pelican crossing, the ped (or, too often, the pavement cyclist!) has crossed and there's no-one else there, I'll go.

Edit, in response to Clarion: I only do this if at the front and I can see clearly that there's no-one there.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Jaded

  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #40 on: March 12, 2009, 09:49:40 am »
Bike or car, its the rules and I stop. However, this isn't a thread about RLJing.
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #41 on: March 12, 2009, 09:50:40 am »
Bike or car, its the rules and I stop. However, this isn't a thread about RLJing.

No, we haven't mentioned David Cameron. ;D
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #42 on: March 12, 2009, 09:51:51 am »
you have now ;D
Getting there...

TimC

  • Bike pilot
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2009, 09:55:20 am »
They could usefully display a count-down of seconds to go before the lights change. I've seen this in another country (but can't recall where), and it appeared to be a good idea to me.

That is the core of the proposal described in the OP. It's a system used in many cities in the US, and it works well. However, it should be combined with lights that default to green for peds when there's no traffic (though that would need rather better sensors than they have now), and which don't hold up traffic in any direction (including peds) when there's no traffic in the conflicting directions. Allowing 'left turn on red', as per the US (and enforcing their universal 'give way to peds' behaviour), would also ease traffic flow.

It's not a war, nor are there really different sides. Constructive and imaginative thought can improve things for all road users.

clarion

  • Tyke
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #44 on: March 12, 2009, 10:39:27 am »
It's not a war, nor are there really different sides. Constructive and imaginative thought can improve things for all road users.

:thumbsup:
Getting there...

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2009, 11:09:02 am »
Are not the 'key' lights controllable by a central computer system? I thought it was possible to make on-demand changes to the lights.
According to my sister, who has worked for various highways departments, you can override many lights from the central control room for the area. She once described to me watching as a controller gave one of their staff a green wave to get to a meeting, watching him on traffic cameras & switching the lights as he approached.

Of course, they wouldn't do that when traffic was heavy. Cause far too much disruption.

But - and it's a big but - inadequately planned changes to phasing of lights could cause chaos. It's all right doing a bit of ad hoc manual overriding, but making permanent changes without carefully modelling the consequences has some of the same risks as trying to repair a watch with a hammer. Get wrong - cue gridlock.

Yes, that's what I thought was possible.

Assuming there was some modelling of the traffic behaviour (and there must be TONS of data available about how the flows / lack of flows work now), then it sounds like a good idea. Unless it's already completely optimised, which seems very unlikely.


Essentially this is what my friend does. Whenever they get told about road works they fire up the model and see what effect it's likely to have on traffic and then let a neural network loose on the model to try to evolve the most sensible solution to rephasing the lights (where they have control of the lights).

It sounds really clever, but of course drivers screw it all up by rat-running and changing their behaviour...


As for count-down timers on lights. They have these in Chicago and they work really well. The lights also change very quickly so when you press them you don't wait long before you can cross again.


Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2009, 11:13:11 am »
For example why have a four-way intersection come to a total stop so that pedestrians can cross in any direction. Why not have pedestrians able to cross parallel to the traffic flow, and any car-drivers turning should give way to them. It's the fact that drivers don't turn across pedestrians that makes them ignore the rule mentioned by SOTR in my view.

They have this near where I work and it doesn't work. Drivers just force their way through, regardless of children or prams crossing the road. So they installed another set of lights round the corner. so cars get a green light, make a left turn and then have to stop immediately to give way to pedestrians. Sometimes they don't realise that the light is not a "repeater" for traffic from the far side of the junction, fail to give way and someone gets run over, or the car ends up diving into the crash barriers.

It would be easier and safer if they stopped all the traffic on the junction and let the pedestrians cross corner to corner, since that's where most of them seem to want to go anyway.

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2009, 12:45:45 pm »
They could usefully display a count-down of seconds to go before the lights change.

Here's a video showing exactly that in Taiwan. How wonderful it would be to have that here!

YouTube - Traffic light timers in Taiwan

The video is filmed from a car passenger's point of view. It starts looking at the 12 seconds remaining of green time for the other traffic. When that reaches zero, we see it change to 50 seconds red time for the other traffic. Then the view changes to our own traffic light, where there is 5 seconds red time remaining. Finally it becomes 40 seconds green time and off we go.

It's interesting that the filmer preferred to look at a green signal as much as possible, even when it wasn't their own.

Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #48 on: March 12, 2009, 01:11:17 pm »
Hobbling about on crutches a couple of months ago, thanks to my left knee's "Widespread internal derangement injuries and bone contusion", I gained a new insight into how variable the time given to peds to cross already is. A lot of the time, I was not making it to the opposite kerb in time. I could be wrong, but this seemed to be more of a problem on busier roads. Life would be much more difficult if the time available to cross was even less.
So, after a lot of thought, I'd like to reconsider. Please, if it's not too late, make it a cheeseburger.

hellymedic

  • Just do it!
Re: You voted for him, you got him...
« Reply #49 on: March 12, 2009, 01:20:40 pm »
It's not a war, nor are there really different sides. Constructive and imaginative thought can improve things for all road users.

:thumbsup:

If it's not a war, why is it that motorists' time is costed in cost/benefit analysis and pedestrians' time is not AFAIK?

That sort of thinking makes me want to FIGHT!