Fair play to them, frankly. I've always been of the opinion there are too many traffic lights in Bristol, and that many of them are deliberately set to cause maximum queues and congestion, firstly to garner public/media support for a congestion charge, and secondly to try and "tempt" people onto the busses.
It's clear to me that the council haven't got a clue what they're doing with traffic lights. Bristol City Council use a system called SCOOT which they use to manage the traffic light system. It is touted as being used for "Bus Priority" (which BCC definitely make use of) as well as "traffic gating" (ditto). However, is this automatic? Going on how poor the traffic light design and operation is in Bristol I'd wager it isn't. And if that's the case, and BCC are setting the timings etc themselves, then who's to say some random jobsworth Traffic Officer sitting in Wilder House has picked the most effective timings?
There are loads of traffic lights around Bristol that are implemented appallingly, and frankly the Traffic Signals department should be fucking ashamed. Take the area of the Temple Circus Gyratory roundabout - fuck me, it's a wonder any cars get through there at all. Why? Because not only are there traffic lights on the roundabout itself, but there are also lights set further back on most of the approach roads too! One of the worst for this is Redcliffe Way. There is a completely fucking pointless set of traffic lights halfway along this road between the Redcliffe Way roundabout by the church and the Temple Circus Gyratory. What these lights are supposed to do is divide the flow between the bus lane and the non-bus (normal) lane. However, instead of having a sensor in the bus lane which would allow the normal lane to be on green until a bus arrives and it is let through (the obvious choice), it is on a fucking timer, where it indescriminately changes the normal lane to red and the bus lane to green, even if there's no traffic in the bus lane. How fucking STUPID is that? Well, very, you might agree, but BCC haven't seen it, as they've gone ahead and implemented it.
There is nothing more fucking annoying than sitting on Redcliffe Way at a red light, when the lights 50 yards in front of you are on green, but you can't go because the bus lane next to you is on green, and no fucker is using it.
Whilst we're in the area, the pedestrian crossing RIGHT after the Temple Gyratory roundabout (can be seen here on Google Maps). What the fuck is the point, where there is another pedestrian crossing a matter of yards down the road, outside Temple Meads station? The ONLY thing this pedestrian crossing does is stop traffic leaving the roundabout, causing more congestion.
There are countless other examples of this, and there's no way anybody could be qualified to do a job of traffic signals designer, and fuck it up that badly, unless they're deliberately trying to make it worse for drivers.
Here is an excellent comment from Bob de Bilde on the evening post article, which pretty much sums up the situation:
Previously, in Bristol as much as possible was done to slow down traffic and generate congestion - this was done to justify a CONgestion Charge.
Now that CONgestion Charges outside of London have proved to be political suicide - look at the Manchester and Edinburgh CONgestion Charge debacles - the authorities now realise that they will have to reverse their congestion causing measures.
Notice that we've not had a peep from the council, the West of England Partnership, the Government Office of the South West, or any of the other multitude of quangos that rule us about CONgestion Charging or an application to the Government's Transport Innovation Fund (TIF). The TIF would have released additional funds for transport to councils prepared to implement CONgestion Charging.
It's all gone very quiet about Charging since Labour were booted out. The Lib Dems want power and they know that if they tried to introduce CONgestion Charging in Bristol, they'd be booted out of the Council House faster than you can say 'Demand Management'.
Back in 2006 we were told that CONgestion Charging would be implemented around 2013, after massive improvement in public transport. Obviously, we've not had our massive improvement in public transport (quelle surprise!) and we're not going to get it anytime soon - therefore it's now politically impossible to implement a CONgestion Charge.
I'm looking forward to the congestion causing measures being withdrawn - starting with all those extraneous traffic lights, so that traffic, both private and public can start to flow again.
However, none of this addresses the important question of when we will get a decent - non-FirstBus-based- mass transit system.
It's as far away as ever - to Bristol's and the Government's eternal shame.