Just how motor vehicle-centric is Transport for London?

Very, seems to be the answer, given that they seem to think pedestrians are just like cars.

How so?

On pages 25-27 of their Network Operating Strategy document (draft), Transport for London describe how they have conducted ‘Signal timing reviews’ of over 1000 traffic signals since 2008. This was, apparently, one of Boris’ key Mayoral commitments, outlined in his ‘Way To Go!‘ policy statement.

We are told that TfL

 regularly reviews and collates data on the performance of its 6,164 sets of traffic signals. Data recorded measures stop/start delays at traffic signals for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic in terms of:

• The number of occasions traffic queuing at a red traffic signal clears the junction in the first green phase of the traffic signal

• The number of occasions pedestrians waiting at a ‘red man’ signal clear the kerb during the invitation to cross ‘green man’ phase of the lights

Subsequently, we find that, by adjusting the timings, TfL have achieved

an average 7.93 per cent reduction in stop/start delays at traffic signals. This was achieved with no dis-benefit to pedestrians and with improvements to both traffic and pedestrian flows across nearly all times of the day and night.

Notice that this passage reveals that the only “stop/start delays” TfL are interested in are those that affect motor traffic – the “7.93%” figure refers to motor vehicles, namely that the 

Number of occasions when queued traffic will have cleared through the first green phase

has increased from 72.13% before the review, to 80.06% after it. As this is a ‘signal timings’ review, it is clear that this increase can only been have achieved by increasing the length of time that motor traffic has on a green phase, and therefore by decreasing the amount of time that pedestrians have on a “green man” phase.

But apparently these changes have been made with “no dis-benefit to pedestrians” – indeed, TfL tell us that conditions have improved for pedestrians, in that the

Number of occasions when pedestrians waiting to cross the road easily clear the kerb during the first green man/blackout period

has increased from 94.1% to 94.77% after the review.

Wow! Things are better for everyone, right?

Err… no.

If we stop and think about this for a second, it is quite obvious that the 7.93% improvement in “stop/start delays” has been bought at the expense of pedestrians, and it is only TfL’s superficial and motor-centric way of defining delays to pedestrians that masks this basic fact.

The amount of time pedestrians have on a green phase may not have changed, but the amount of time they have to wait for a green phase clearly has – this is where the extra time has come from for the improvement in motor vehicle delays.

The ludicrous way in which TfL has measured ‘pedestrian delay’ quickly becomes apparent when you realise that you could hold pedestrians waiting for a “green man” for half an hour, and TfL’s figures about “pedestrian delay” wouldn’t change one iota. The hundred or so pedestrians that might have gathered at the crossing, waiting tirelessly for a green signal to cross, would all still be able to “reach the kerb” on the other side during the “green man” timing. But despite waiting for half an hour to cross, in TfL world, they apparently wouldn’t have suffered any delay – because let’s not forget, TfL define “pedestrian delay” as

The number of occasions pedestrians waiting at a ‘red man’ signal clear the kerb during the invitation to cross ‘green man’ phase of the lights

Barmy. 

How can TfL be this stupid?

The obvious answer – they are so motor vehicle-centric, they have simply defined “pedestrian delay” in exactly the same way as they define “motor vehicle delay” – that is, by whether x units “queuing” at a junction manage to get through the junction during that green signal.

But this isn’t how pedestrians are “delayed” at all – they’re delayed when they have to wait for a green signal to occur, not by whether they can “get through the junction” when it does.

This is clear evidence that TfL simply haven’t given a moment’s thought to the way pedestrians get delayed at junctions.

Pedestrians aren’t cars, you chumps.

Cycle of Futility has plenty of other objections to this document, the consultation for which closes today. Feel free to bombard Transport for London with as many of these as you wish. The email address is here.

This entry was posted in Boris Johnson, Car dependence, Transport for London. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Just how motor vehicle-centric is Transport for London?

  1. radii8 says:

    The email address has disappeared and the website says “under critical maintenance”. On the last day of the consultation. Can you publicise the email address instead and give some very baisc information on what I need to be commenting on. Thanks!

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