Sunday, 22 May 2011

Traffic Lights

I was out shopping earlier today, in the wind and the showers, and as I tried to cross a busy road a thought occurred to me - not for the first time.  This particular thought, I mean, not any thought in general, I do get those quite often.  Anyway.  WHO WAS THE IDIOT WHO THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO MAKE PEDESTRIANS HAVE TO WAIT TWICE WHEN CROSSING THE ROAD USING A PEDESTRIAN CROSSING CONTROLLED BY TRAFFIC LIGHTS?
Once upon a time when you pressed the button on a crossing the traffic stopped in both directions at the same time and the pedestrian could walk straight across the road.
For the past few years these crossings have been replaced by ones where you have to cross to a central 'island', 'refuge' whatever, I don't know what they call them, press another button and wait for the traffic on that side of the road to stop.  WHY?   And why doesn't it work automatically.  If you are crossing to the middle you have to cross to the other side, so why isn't there some sort of connection between the two sets of lights?  Why can't we cross the road in one fail swoop?
No doubt it is down to traffic flow and management, but I can't see that it makes much difference.  The traffic still has to stop.
Have these planners ever tried crossing a road with a pushchair and a toddler, in the rain, in the wind, standing in the middle of the road with traffic roaring past on both sides of you?  Not forgetting the zigzagging you have to do to get from one crossing 'gate' to the other.  It's no wonder that people stranded in the middle of these crossings take it into their own hands and cross when there is no traffic coming, thus leaving cars stopping at red lights for no reason because the people have already gone.
And if traffic lights are so clever these days, why can't they sense when there is no traffic and turn red so that people don't have to stand around waiting?  By the time the cars appear they can be green again and no one gets held up and people can cross in safety.
I know it doesn't take that long for the lights to change, but when you are standing on that central reservation it feels like ages.
These crossings may be appropriate for dual carriageways but not on single carriageway roads even if they have two lanes of traffic in each direction.  I can see no benefit in them whatsoever and shall continue to mutter to myself every time I need to cross the road to get from one side of the town to the other.

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