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Why did the Pedestrian (Not) Cross the Road

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I’ve noticed a lot of the new breed of pedestrian crossing and light controlled junctions appearing across Liverpool recently. They’ve got sensors to see if there is traffic, that the traffic hasn’t blocked the crossing and to check the pedestians are standing at the crossing. They encourage pedestrians to look in the right direction by having the display to one side rather than ahead. On paper they probably look a lot better than earlier generations of crossings. I’ve had two other peoples experiences of them so I thought I’d share mine and theirs…

Perspective 1 – The Pedestrian: When they work these new lights are good but a lot of the time they don’t work. You press the button and wait, and wait… and wait… and wait a bit more… theres a gap in the traffic you could drive a convoy of snails through… you wait and you carry on waiting. Sometimes you wait and then the lights decide that there isn’t anyone there and you have to press the button again. Eventually you give in and cross the road without the aid of the lights when there is a gap in the traffic or a kind motorist waves you across.

Perspective 2 – The Taxi Driver: Pedestrians are ignoring the crossings and running through the traffic like chickens or the lights are changing with no one anywhere in sight.

Perspective 3 – The Motorcyclist: You pull up at a junction and wait, and wait… and wait… and wait a bit more… you bounce your bike over the detector in the road, you wait some more and you carry on waiting till a car pulls up and triggers the lights.

Don’t get me wrong I’m pleased the city is finally putting in better crossings on dangerous roads and better junctions but someone needs to make sure they work, and carry on working, properly.

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