Traffic Light Pedestrian Phases (2)

MQT on 2019-03-21
Session date: 
March 21, 2019
Question By: 
Navin Shah
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Can you review the design of countdown digital displays at Transport for London pedestrian crossings? Do you agree that 4-second countdowns (which seem like 3 seconds in practice) are too quick to be of much use to pedestrians in their decision-making?


Why cannot all displays be extended by, say, 5 seconds, and overlapping the still-lit green-person light for their first 5 seconds? Is there any statutory or published guideline reason why not?


Have digital displays proven to be safer, or are they more a matter of convenience?


Traffic Light Pedestrian Phases (2)

Traffic Light Pedestrian Phases (2)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

In order to achieve my Healthy Streets aims for London, Transport for London (TfL) has taken a new approach to its annual review of the timings at 1,200 traffic signals, to ensure that pedestrians and people choosing other active modes are better served at signalised junctions. This includes looking for opportunities for lower pedestrian wait times and better crossing experiences between crossing points staggered across wider roads.

TfL follows guidance from the Department for Transport in the design and operation of London’s traffic signals. This sets out the appropriate countdown period according to the width of the carriageway and based on an average walking speed.

Extending the countdown period by a further five seconds would have unintended consequences, including delays for other people cycling. The lights would take longer to cycle around each stage of the junction, resulting in longer waits for pedestrians, and risking delays to buses. Please refer to Mayor's Question 2019/6348, which sets out the benefits of the countdown timers.

TfL would be pleased to meet you to discuss in more detail the design and operation of different signalised crossings and junctions. Please contact TfL’s Members Correspondence team if this would be of interest.