Pedestrian crossing review

Bristol City Council is reviewing the settings of the system-controlled signalised crossings across Bristol. The review started in early 2019, and continues into 2020/1. 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 2019, and a small group from BWA met with Jackie in September 2019 and April 2020 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, motor traffic congestion (which not only slows motorists’ journeys, but also 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.

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.

This review covers system-controlled signalised crossings only. Stand-alone crossings are either the older Pelican crossings or the newer Puffin crossings. Older crossings are sometimes ‘vehicle-actuated’: the response to pressing the button to cross is always delayed by a period, eg 20 seconds, being the estimated time to clear peak-time traffic after a crossing has been used. This can be very annoying for pedestrians! Unfortunately these older crossings are not replaced quickly: after the budget cuts of recent years, the council’s budget allows only 2 or 3 new crossings a year.

Further detail

If you want to understand more about signalised crossings and the current review, see:

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