please empty your brain below

I hope this is binned. It benefits neither pedestrians or motorists. Currently pedestrians cross when there is a gap, or they can press the button to stop the traffic. It works really well and I’ve never heard anyone complain it is unfair.

Does this madcap scheme detect cyclists, or will they have to wait for a car to pass for the lights to go green for them?
An interesting post - all new to me.
As a pedestrian I’ve long wondered why, on a conventional crowing, having pressed the button you have to wait for an apparently random period before the traffic is stopped, even when it is a long time since the last red for vehicles. This simply encourages ‘jaywalking’ without apparently offering any benefit to pedestrians or motorists. Can anyone explain why pressing the button doesn’t immediately stop traffic, as long as a suitable period has elapsed since the previous pedestrian phase?
I wonder whether the clever intelligence of any new system could deal with the stopping of traffic arising from a pedestrian, e.g. me, pressing the button and then crossing without waiting for green, because the road is clear.
Who has been going to the expense of installing Pelican crossings on streets with such light traffic in the first place?
Don’t jump to the conclusion that this isn’t a busy road.
Feels the wrong way to me. What you want is for it to actually stop the traffic for pedestrians, rather than waiting until there isn't a car within 20 miles before going red.

There's one a few houses down the road from my house where I regularly press the button. Wait, wait, cross on red in a huge gap in the traffic, walk along the pavement, up my drive and am opening the door before I hear it beep: now stopping the traffic for no-one.

Just stop the traffic sometimes, rather than making me stand in the wind and rain for ages, just to ensure that no-one has to wait in their warm dry car for a few seconds.
I still think the traditional zebra crossings are the safest. Motorists DO stop when a pedestrian is waiting and there is no chance of a vehicle jumping the red light and knocking you down, as there isn't one. Traffic can move freely when no one is crossing, there is no mechanical or electrical waste either.
I have had a number of near misses when the green man is showing and a car has flashed pass.
At another busy Stratford crossing, from the station to the Shopping Centre, confusion reigns. Often nobody thinks of pressing the button, and the lights stay green for traffic. Most people just dart across the road without a care. I wonder how many accidents there have been?
The Spirit of the Green Man - the stuff of myths and legends... not to mention pub names!
Sounds like a solution in search of a problem…
MikeH I agree - plus cyclists are perhaps more likely to actually stop at zebra crossings than they seem to at traffic lights! Though I've had them weave around me while crossing in both situations!

I wonder what the rational is that some simple crossings merit traffic lights, others a zebra crossing and some just an island in the middle - with all 3 sometimes found along the same stretch of road.
I agree that Zebra crossings achieves similar level of safety with simpler setup, but apparently someone out there believe that too many drivers are ignoring Zebra crossings and they try everything to force them to stop. Whether this will be a success remains to be seen.
If you get down there at some point, the lights on St Thomas Street (behind London Bridge station and the Shard) are proper GMA. Two sets of pedestrian crossings, both (I think) stay green for pedestrians except when traffic approaches triggering a pedestrian countdown (from 3) and then a green light. Because there's two in close proximity, it's very rare that any vehicle passes through both at speed - I've found when cycling you need to proceed at about 8-9mph from the first to the second for it to change for you. Therefore I'd say it's pretty effective traffic calming on an extremely busy pedestrian route.

There's also the crossing of Southwark Street just west of Southwark Bridge Road which isn't GMA but does have an instant button response, rather the usual press button -> wait 30-60 seconds for more traffic to go through -> get green man. There's a few more of these around, can't think of any off the top of my head. IMO this is exactly how a pedestrian crossing should behave except on exceptionally busy roads where they may be justifiably synchronised with a nearby junction.
Many zebra crossings were replaced by lights to convenience motorists and inconvenience pedestrians. A zebra crossing gives pedestrians priority, even when that means only one car at a time can be driven through. While we (thankfully) don’t have jaywalking laws in this country, the moment a pedestrian crosses on a red they take on the risk if they are injured or knocked over. More zebra crossings would truly put the pedestrian at the top of the priory list. But councils like cars. See also awful staggered pedestrian crossings with two phases of signals, railings and informal crossings where drivers rarely stop to let a pedestrian cross. Next time traffic lights/pedestrian signals are out of action, look to see how many drivers have the courtesy to slow to allow pedestrians to cross. I can guarantee it’s next to none.
Getting killed, injured or frightened is the real penalty to a pedestrian in conflict with a vehicle. Exactly whose fault it was is, by comparison, a minor issue. We always used to joke that if you are hurt while making proper use of a crossing, it "doesn't count". A joke, but rather a dark one.
Interesting to see that in both photographs show the "old -fashioned" red man / green man, as does the diagram above the table.
Hertfordshire are bang up to date! On many crossings the large red man / green man lights on the other side of the road have been replaced with small red or green lights low down on the push button. This means that if several pedestrians are waiting to cross only the person next to the sign can see it!
Driving for fuel efficiency (and safety, I hope) means looking a long way ahead and trying to keep rolling gently along at a more or less constant, moderate speed - no hard braking or acceleration. Lights changing rapidly for no good reason would be rather unhelpful in this context.
The alternating arrangement seems likely to delay vehicles unnecessarily while only slightly benefitting pedestrians; half the time they'll still have to press the button and wait. I suspect it's due to a lack of trust in the vehicle detectors (particularly where bikes are concerned) so it has to give occasional preference to vehicles in case there are any it hasn't spotted. Personally I'm all for zebras with their ability to respond immediately to pedestrians but not delay vehicles at all if there aren't any.
Over ten years ago we had a zebra crossing near us replaced with a signalised pedestrian crossing (because it’s an A road). Those pesky people that caught the bus would disembark and then cross over at the zebra crossing, delaying the car drivers from getting to their destinations as quickly as possible.

Now we have to press the button and wait for the green man. While waiting, the lights at the intersection just further up have changed two or three times before you will get the green man. Most people give up and cross between the cars that are queuing.

Because most people seem not to wait, they installed pedestrian sensors so that if the pedestrians cross before the light change, it deactivates the call. The sensor is partly obstructed so for those that wait diligently for the green man they may not even be detected. Most people don’t notice that the call light above the button switches off and that they will never get the green man.
1) I get annoyed by the 'intergreen period', particularly if there's already been a numerical countdown to when the crossing time will finish - except that it doesn't, and there's an extra 5 seconds during which I could have crossed or the traffic could have started off.
2) I suspect many pedestrian buttons are placebos and don't affect the lights at all, which change at predetermined times irrespective. All they do is light up the 'Wait' light.
3) In Havana the pedestrian lights at busy crossings also have a red numerical countdown to when the lights will change in pedestrians' favour, and knowing this means they're far more happy to wait.
4) As others have suggested, a normal zebra crossing seems to work well enough at giving pedestrians priority. I thought light controlled crossings were only needed where a zebra crossing would disrupt the traffic flow too much. Where there's little traffic and few pedestrians any lights are redundant.
It sort of reminds me of the XKCD on standards. We had half a dozen ways of managing the pedestrian/traffic interface, none of which were particularly well suited. Now we have seven ways, none of which are...

And while a zebra crossing is certainly most appropriate in some quieter settings, I don't think outside a transit station is one of them. Very blobby pedestrian traffic.
"In Havana the pedestrian lights at busy crossings also have a red numerical countdown to when the lights will change in pedestrians' favour, and knowing this means they're far more happy to wait."

this seems like an excellent idea. I jaywalk a lot, and if TfL want me to jaywalk less, this would definitely help!
RogerB asks why do pedestrians have to wait a seemingly random amount of time before the lights change ... it's maths! [video]

But as Nick points out, that doesn't weight the wait time in favour of pedestrians standing in the rain and wind.
A traffic engineer who posts on YouTube called Road Guy Rob has some videos covering issues with rapid light changes and challenges with Yellow light timing. There is internally agreed mathematics on the subject.

The specification would be a lot more clearly expressed as a finite state machine diagram.

I am all for more Zebra crossings, but any busy Zebra should be fitted with an incursion enforcement camera to penalise drivers/riders who transit the crossing when right of way is with the pedestrian. These exist, but not in common usage in the UK it would seem
This is why DG is usually my first port of call! All human life is there.
Thank you ADS for the link explaining the maths.
Summarising - the pedestrian wait time is NOT random - it is designed to 'maximise the flux' of pedestrians and vehicles at busy times, and in most (all?) cases doesn't adapt to lighter traffic levels! How crazy is that?
The one place I think a zebra crossing won't work, and where a signalled pedestrian crossing is needed, is when there are 2 lanes in each direction.

There was a very sad case where I lived in America when a family crossing a main road on a zebra crossing outside a school were knocked down (and several members killed) because the nearside traffic stopped to let them cross which obscured them from view of the far side traffic, which didn't.
At one point I seem to recall that TFL were looking at lights that changed red if vehicles were speeding on approach. Could this be one of those?

dg writes: No. See press release.
Nothing like commenting on a almost three year old post, but this topic came up today on twitter. I linked to this post, but remembered I never reported back on my own experience if these intersections.

I did check out a couple of my local ones. Castlenau in Barnes impossible to assess due to Hammersmith Bridge closure. It is mostly just empty roads and empty pavements. It does appear to favour pedestrians when they arrive, but it is rare to see a pedestrian and vehicle in conflict here.

Couldn't make heads nor tails of the pattern at Old Brompton Road, but so much traffic (road and foot) that it is hard to determine if it isn't just on a cycle. The pavements are so narrow how do you know if someone is coming to cross the road, or just walking along the pavement.

No idea if this trial is still on.

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