Traffic signal switch-off trial

Bristol City Council has announced that it is switching off traffic signals at two busy road junctions in an experiment to see whether they can operate safely and more effectively for pedestrians and cyclists as well as motorists.

This is an opportunity to test the idea of shared space through junction evaluation trials.

Two sites have been carefully selected from an initial list of seven due to each having low vehicle speeds with high visibility which particularly limits the risk to people on foot.

Union Street / Broadmead (the first pilot site)

Broad Quay / Prince St / Marsh  St (the second pilot site)

The roads will be closely monitored by CCTV throughout the trial which is programmed to commence in early March 2010. Each site will be monitored and assessed over a week involving a number of pedestrian, cyclist and vehicle surveys together with a qualitative assessment of pedestrian crossing movement.

The approaches to the site will be signed with advance warning signs, the signal heads will be switched off and bagged up. The junction will again be monitored during the following week where before and after comparisons will be made and a trial assessment report produced.

The report will include an assessment of the impact on traffic flows including the effect on bus, cycle and pedestrian
movements before and during the trial.

Cllr Jon Rogers - Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability
Cllr Jon Rogers – Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability

Local transport consultants Colin Buchanan have extensive experience carrying out similar trials in London and North Somerset and have been commissioned to monitor and report on the before-and-after conditions.

Councillor Jon Rogers, Bristol City Council’s Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability said “We have a rare opportunity to test the concept of shared space in a busy urban UK setting. I hope we will see a positive effect on road user behaviour”.

If you have any feedback, you can add it to this site if you want to take part in the public conversation or download the leaflet and respond privately if you prefer.

Response from the council

Thank you for your comment.  As the pilot has now finished, we have closed this discussion.  Our Traffic Signals Manager, John Laite responds:

The Traffic Signal Evaluation Trail is now in assessment stage.  The two sets of traffic signals that were switched off as part of the trial have been returned to full operation.  Four weeks of video from three CCTV camera together with responses from pedestrian interviews are being assessed at present.  The results will be included in a final study report to be published by Bristol City Council.  The report will include a thorough review of the various issues involved in the trial, it will present analysis of the data which has been collected together with the findings from the consultants, Colin Buchanan.  The report will conclude with recommendations for t he future operation of the trial sites.

This entry was posted in Transport and Streets by Consultation Team. Bookmark the permalink.

About Consultation Team

Ask Bristol from Bristol City Council provides a range of e-participation tools to make it easier for citizens to get involved in local democracy and raise issues with the council. Ask Bristol includes: webcasting; a consultation finder listing all the council's consultation in one place on the web; a wordpress-powered discussion site and online polling and surveys

22 thoughts on “Traffic signal switch-off trial

  1. Excellant idea. Please do more! I have cycled and driven through the Broad Quay / Prince St junction several times since the lights were turned off – no problem at all. Much better than before.

  2. All you get is buses jamming the entire road, all the time, so no one wins!!!

    • Sean suggests, “buses jamming the entire road, all the time

      We have been monitoring the sites before and during the switch off, so we are looking at length of time it takes for various road users to travel across the area.

      I have not yet seen any technical reports, but my observation is that the majority of movements are less interrupted.

      When and where have you seen these bus problems?

  3. What a waste of time these sites are why oh why do we have 24hour traffic lights at roudabouts? Surely there are sensors in the road surface that cann turn them on and off when traffic levels need it. Take temple meads Hartcliffe and avonmouth what a waste of electricity Come on traffic management take on some proper sites

    • Turning off traffic lights is not without risks, and officers (and I!) were keen to start on sites where the risks and speeds are generally low.

      The major traffic roundabouts have historically been the sites of many accidents, especially for example at Lawrence Hill, where cars come fast off the M32 slip road, and hit slower cars (and bikes) entering the roundabout further round.

      We will continue to investigate possibilities, so keep ideas coming.

  4. I’m not sure how turning off these traffic lights is going to help pedestrians stay safe in the busy centre of Bristol.

    What we need is a pedestrian traffic light ADDED to the set outside the Galleries opposite Castle Park. At the moment you come out of the Galleries and wanting to head off towards Corn Street, say, you have to contend with cars and buses turning in from 2 directions and they seemingly don’t realise that we pedestrians don’t “get a turn”. So, I’d like to ADD some lights to increase pedestrian safety and also the fear of crossing that road at that point.

    • I will ask officers to look at this area. Of course, if drivers gave priority to pedestrians (as required in the Highway Code) and approached that turning at a low speed, then everyone could “filter in turn” and no lights would be needed there.

      I know that I am an optimist, but if any city can change the way we use our roads to help walking and cycling, then Bristol can.

  5. It’s sad to see that BCC seems to be caving in under pressure from the local pro-car tabloid media. I don’t think that turning off lights will improve matters. It increases the risk of a collision between a car and bus coming in the bus lane from Nelson St (including those drivers who take a short cut through here by tailgating buses). At heavy times, it’ll simply extend the jam about 100 yards to the next set of lights.

    The problem is too many cars in a finite space. Traffic lights function like valves, regulating the flow. They don’t create congestion – the desire of everyone to drive does. Thus the system is overloaded. Getting rid of lights might increase congestion if everyone thinks that traffic flow has improved and would use a car rather than the bus etc.

    I see that the other ‘experiment’ at the start of the Horsefair is a failure. Most drivers and motorcyclists simply ignore the no cars/motorbike signs.

  6. These are pretty good places to get rid of the lights. Broad Quay/Prince Street really doesn’t need them – it’s usually easy to cross here without waiting for the lights and often cars/buses end up stationary for no reason. Union Street will be more interesting as an experiment because this is a slow moving but very busy road and there are lots of pedestrians around.

Comments are closed.