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When a Toucan is a GNAT in disguise - Ped crossing signals not set up correctly.

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Published on Jan 12, 2008

This 'far-side' Toucan road crossing has a serious problem.

That is when it is activated by pedestrians who wish to cross the road it takes a seeming eternity to change back to allow road traffic to continue their journey.

Indeed the delay is so long that from a road user's point of view it would be more aptly named as a GNAT (general nuisance all traffic) - this being a term which also follows the British liking for naming - most types of - pedestrian crossings after animals.

The root cause of the problem seems to be that the 'variable clearance' period which detects when pedestrians are crossing is not working... so it defaults to holding up traffic flow by staying on red for the maximum permitted time after the pedestrians have crossed, in the process needlessly adding to traffic congestion, air pollution, etc.

This also aggravates vehicle drivers, this being something that ultimately can be seen as a contributory factor in 'road rage'. This is what makes them GNAT's!

Either that or it has been incorrectly set-up! - in which case it can be assumed that there are a LOT of poorly trained signal installation engineers who desperately need retraining - and should not be allowed to continue working until this has been accomplished.

This video is at least 24 seconds longer than it should be - because on each of these activations the lights take a whopping 10 seconds to change back to letting the traffic pass. Surely 3 seconds is more than ample?

The location is the A12 westbound on the approach to Redbridge roundabout, next to the junction with Evanston Gardens.

However there are many other locations where the same problem occurs. A few are discussed in the comments, below... These mostly seem to be the 'far-side' type of crossing where the pedestrian indicators are on the opposite footpath.

It would be better if these crossings retained the flashing amber phase, as with Pelican and former X-Way & Panda crossings.

This video was taken on a Sunday - I pass through here on most mornings and these signals are a direct cause of traffic congestion. OK, there is also congestion leading up to the roundabout but the traffic still flows much more freely on days when these lights do not work.

Another issue is that they always change in favour of pedestrians *very quickly* after the call button has been pressed. This in itself is not a problem, except that if the button is pressed (by more arriving pedestrians) towards the end of an activation cycle they will change back in favour of the pedestrians almost immediately. This means that barely 3 vehicles (per lane) get to pass them - which in most extreme instances (eg: morning rush hour) can and does result in the entire section in front of them as far as Redbridge roundabout being empty, whilst behind them the queue almost reaches Gants Hill roundabout.

In the evenings the same happens on the eastbound carriageway, with traffic sometimes tailing back to and even partially blocking the roundabout.

Of course as a pedestrian the very rare 'instant change' feature is most welcome which has never been seen elsewhere!

ps, video was taken with camera settings slightly different, which explains why the levels of brightness vary.

Creative commons footage, can be used by anyone.

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