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These Walk Signs Illuminate For Longer If People Still Need To Cross The Road

It’s frustrating to wait for the “Walk” sign to change when there are no cars passing by. Equally, it’s annoying as a driver if you’re waiting at a red light and there are no pedestrians.

A new system being trialled in London takes account of actual traffic to make signaling decisions. If the “Walk” is about to turn to “Don’t Walk” and more people still need to cross the road, it will delay the change accordingly. If there aren’t many pedestrians, it will limit the signal to a minimum amount of time.


“If there’s only a few people waiting we’ll just go for the standard six seconds to cross, but if we’ve got 100 people waiting to cross we can increment that up to the appropriate time,” Mark Cracknell, from TfL, London’s transport authority, told CNN. “What we’re avoiding is the scenario where we don’t have enough time to get everybody on the crossing and then pedestrians have to wait for another cycle of the traffic signals to get across.”

The “Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique” (pScoot) has two stereoscopic cameras at different angels to create a single, in-depth, view of the road. It then counts how many people are in different boxes of the grid, and makes a decision. It could be particularly useful outside schools and during rush hour, when you get spikes in footfall.

The system is currently being tested near two subway stations in South London (in Balham and Tooting on the Northern Line). Sensors in the road monitor vehicle density and co-ordinate the lights.

TfL already uses a version of Scoot for traffic, as do other cities, including Toronto. But the pedestrian version is thought to be a world first.

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