Look! No lights

This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 79.

Look! No lights!
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No I’m not complaining, this time, about the number of cyclists without lights, nor the number of cars with faulty lights, although riding home in the dark I see more cars than bikes with illegal lights. Instead I’m complaining about traffic lights.

A colleague said he was very nearly hit by a bike that failed to stop in Regent St, at the ‘Pizza Hut’ crossing. He realised that a cyclist leaving Cambridge cannot see the RED light until nearly on the crossing because of a new sign regarding the bollards. I went and had a look and realised that a cyclist cannot see the red light until he is a mere 15 metres from the stop line. I reported this problem and was told ‘It’s passed a Safety Audit, but we’ll look again’. I’ve seen no change to the sign.

Unbelievably, the Regent Street traffic lights near Pizza Hut have passed a safety audit, despite the fact that cyclists cannot see the red light until they are 15 metres from the stop line.

Of course it isn’t just traffic lights you can’t see that cause problems in Regent Street. Outbound at the Catholic Church junction, you can see three GREEN lights when you need to stop. Such things don’t fool the locals, and with good reason many junctions now have no ‘far side’ lights, but here you can see the GREEN lights for traffic filtering round from Gonville Place. I’ve seen a car set off southwards just as traffic started the inbound phase on Hills Rd which includes a right-turn filter. These signal heads have ‘slats’ but can still be clearly seen from the stop line.

Do three greens overrule one red?
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There is no substitute to a walk around, spending a few minutes just watching traffic. I fear that signal engineers don’t get out enough.

Jim Chisholm