Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Bristol City Council pick the wrong traffic lights to turn off

UPDATE: The Google Streetview applets were making this page far too slow to load, so I have converted them to images. You can still click the "View Larger Map" links below the images for the full Streetview page.

The Evening Post seems to be pretty excited that BCC are going to be turning a couple of traffic light sets off.

A trial switch-off of traffic lights in Bristol city centre is to start on Monday.

Lights at the junctions of Broad Quay, Prince Street and Marsh Street near Harbourside and where Union Street meets Nelson Street in Broadmead are involved.

I wonder why these particular lights have been picked? First, let's take a look at the Union Street/Nelson Street junction:

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Plenty of pedestrians waiting to cross, and in my experience that's a quiet example. At lunchtime and the beginning and end of the day (and all day Saturday) it's hugely busy. Getting rid of the traffic lights here would result in chaos as pedestrians just try and cross in front of cars as they get tired of waiting. You'll also notice a bus coming from the left, only buses and cyclists are allowed to go down that road, so there's not a huge amount of traffic coming from the left. Nothing to be gained from removing these lights, and everything to be lost (for both pedestrians AND motorists).

Let's look at the other set, Prince Street/Broad Quay/Marsh Street:

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In my experience, this is as busy as it ever gets, so in theory you wouldn't lose anything by switching the lights off here, but more importantly, you wouldn't really gain anything either.

So why have Bristol City Council picked these two particular sets of lights? Is it because they're the ones that would have the most minimal impact possible, so they can then declare the trial a complete waste of time and not proceed any further with it?

If they're after meaningful lights to either switch off, or more importantly correct the timings on, I'm only too happy to oblige:

1) THESE FUCKING LIGHTS on Redcliffe Way.

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It switches between allowing the bus lane through and allowing the traffic through, but it works on a timer and not sensors, therefore you have the absurd situation as above where traffic is held on a red light, where the bus lane is on a green so some non-existent buses can drive through. It switches between the bus lane and the normal traffic lane, even when there are no buses - it's fucking infuriating. Just get rid of them completely, they're not necessary. The bus can merge with normal traffic before the next set of lights.

2) Temple Circus Gyratory

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Well, what a complete clusterfuck of a traffic management FUCK UP this roundabout is. If you want a lesson on just how badly it's possible for traffic engineers to fuck things up, look no further than here.

The above Google Streetview shot is a perfect case in point. The traffic lights on the roundabout are green showing traffic should proceed, but they fucking can't, because the pedestrian crossing lights are on red, stopping any traffic leaving the roundabout. It's a schoolboy error, and it's never been corrected.

In fact, why the fucking hell is that pedestrian crossing even there in the first place, given that a few yards down the road there is another crossing outside of Temple Meads station?

3) This STUPID pedestrian crossing.

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Why the fuck is it here? There's a crossing just a bit further down the road outside Temple Meads. Also, this crossing is just before the Temple Circus Gyratory (to the left in the background of the picture) but is in no way linked to these, so you get the ridiculous situation that the lights for that Gyratory entry are green, but the no traffic is flowing through because this stupid fucking pointless pedestrian crossing is holding up all the traffic!

The fact that these ridiculous traffic light setups still exist, causing congestion around the Temple Meads area EVERY FUCKING DAY, and that Bristol City Council's traffic officers have done nothing to resolve it, is proof that the congestion is not only deliberate, but wanted by Council officers, so they can justify the introduction of a congestion charge.

The fucking cunts.

UPDATE: User submissions:

4) Lewin's Mead (same as number 1 above)

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Thanks to Paul for pointing this one out in the comments, it's the same problem as number 1) above, there is a bus lane/normal traffic split, but the lights are on a timer (again, not a sensor) that runs 24 hours a day, even though there's no buses running after about 11:30pm.

5) St Augestines Parade/Colston Avenue

Thanks again to Paul for reminding me of this abomination. For those who don't remember the traffic system before they changed it to this with the fountains, it generally just worked (and looked pretty good too). Now it looks good with the fountains and all, but god all fucking mighty, have they fucked this junction up. The photo taken by the Google Streeet View car doesn't give a very good impression of how bad it can get, luckily the satelite view can oblige:

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Take a look at the two white rectangles in the centre of the image, which are obviously buses. This is a light example of how bad it can get with buses waiting at the traffic lights in the top right-hand corner of the "X" stopping any traffic progressing towards the bottom left-hand corner. Because of this stupidly designed, over-engineered junction, the traffic queues all the way around St Augustine's parade, getting so far as to fuck up the junction with Quay Street.

All of this occurs because of the design of the fountains, meaning you couldn't just treat the area as a giant roundabout like it was (which worked very well). There would have been no need for this stupid X shaped road section in the middle, which fucks everything up. Without that, you could just have one massive roundabout with an exit at each corner, and peripheral exits for Colston Street, St Stephen's Street, etc. It's fucking mad and it proves that when this was designed and researched, they really didn't give a flying fuck about how it would affect traffic.


Paul said...

Couldn't agree more. But surprised you high-lighted only 3 sets!

Similar to the ones you highlighted in example number 1 - The ones on Lewins Mead. Again, meant to allow buses through ahead of cars but on a 24 hour timer, for that excellent 24 hour bus service that runs along the route of course!

Anonymous said...

You're turning into Chris Hutt - you need to get out more.

Bristol Dave said...

Unfortunately, Anonymong, when I get out I just encounter more of these stupid fucking traffic lights.

Anonymous said...

Life's tough out there. Try working, it gets even tougher.

Anonymous said...

If Dave was Chris Hutt you would very quickly have Jon Rogers coming on here saying 'Excellent Idea Chris... I mean Dave... Consider it done'.

That's the only advantage I can think of.

Paul said...

Pretty sure the city centre should get a mention as well. Where Colston Avenue and St Augstines Parade cross over in a X format.

So many things wrong with this junction that literally brings the city centre to a standstill.

If the remit for this junction was 'cause as much disruption as is humanly possible' then consider it 'job done'.

Anonymous said...

I suppose everyone has their own pet set of useless lights, but I can't believe you've missed the roundabout at the bottom of Jacob's Wells Road. They back up the traffic all the way to the Triangle some nights.

Obsydian said...

Traffic lights numbers 2 and 3 used by me every working day to cross, but agree that the timings could be synchronised a bit to allow traffic to flow a little more freely, especially if the interval between crossings was also reduced :-)

JONHA said...

This is the best significant analysis on traffic management I have seen in years combined with a well though out customer satisfaction survey response - keep up the good work

Carl said...

Local government has built a lot of traffic lights in our neighborhood but not all of them are operating. So it's really a waste of effort and money. And it's not really easy building up those traffic lights because it has to have best quality materials, stainless steel strapping and great stainless steel wing seal so that it will not fall or cause interruption and accidents.