Pedestrian crossings review

Bristol City Council is reviewing the settings of the system-controlled signalised crossings across Bristol. The review started in early 2019, and will continue into 2020/1 subject to internal approval. The review has seen reductions in pedestrian waiting times at some crossings of 30% to 40%.

BWA has been learning more about the review. Jackie Davies, who heads the council team that is conducting the review, presented to a BWA meeting in July, and a small group from BWA met with Jackie in September to understand the review in more detail.

The timing is controlled by a ‘SCOOT’ urban traffic control system. Optimisation is by a ‘trial and error’ process, crossing by crossing, by observing the results on the road. The setting of pedestrian waiting times is a balance between different road users. The balance is between bus flows, general motorised traffic flows (which causes poor air quality for all road users), and pedestrian flows.

Applying this balance is a compromise, and pedestrian waiting times are inevitably not always as one would like. However, those of us who met with Jackie were impressed that the Council is doing what it can within the constraints to make things better for the pedestrian.

Of course, the compromise is only necessary because there are too many cars and the buses do not always get dedicated roadspace to avoid congestion.

From time to time, Jackie’s team receives feedback from different road users. In theory, if the balance is to the detriment of any party, they complain, which drives further amendments, until a compromise is achieved.

BUT the voice of the pedestrian is least likely to be heard. You can play a role by commenting on timing issues at a specific crossing.

Further detail

If you want to understand more about signalised crossings and the current review, see:
Notes of September 2018 meeting on the basics of pedestrian crossings.
Notes of July 2019 BWA meeting.
Notes of BWA September 2019 meeting with Jackie Davies.

This review covers system-controlled signalised crossings only. BWA hopes to learn more about stand-alone pedestrian crossings, which are managed by a different council team, and will report back its findings.

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