Cape Town - Pedestrians will now have up to 23 seconds to cross some of the busiest intersections in the city centre, thanks to a R6.5 million project by the City of Cape Town to improve traffic signal timing.
Unlike parallel pedestrian signal control systems, where cars and pedestrians have to compete for the same road space, an exclusive pedestrian control system will give them between 5 and 23 seconds, depending on the size of the intersection, to cross the road without having to first wait for cars.
Launched on Thursday at the intersection of Long and Hout streets, the pedestrian signal control system will be extended to 109 other intersections in the CBD over the next eight months, and thereafter across the city. The first trial will be in Long and Loop Streets, from Strand Street to Wale Street.
Brett Herron, Transport for Cape Town mayoral committee member, said the effectiveness of the current timing plan had been reduced to the point where a “major review” of the system was required.
“We want a city that is efficient but that is also walkable. Efficient cities make mobility easier and safer, be it for people or goods.”
Herron said there had been an increase in pedestrian traffic in the city, making it necessary to manage the traffic signals in a way that would keep pedestrians safe without delaying the movement of traffic.
One of the biggest pedestrian gripes is that turning vehicles often refuse to give pedestrians right of way during the green and flashing red man phases. The city is therefore going to test an exclusive pedestrian control system in which all vehicles at an intersection will remain stationary while pedestrians cross.
Herron said the signal-timing plans at all 110 city intersections would be reviewed and improved in line with current traffic demands and patterns.
These signals would be linked to a remote monitoring system, that would make it easier for the city’s traffic signal technicians to pick up on faults. Time clocks based on a global positioning system (GPS) would help with synchronisation of the lights between intersections.
The pedestrian push-buttons were audio-tactile for pedestrians with special needs.
Herron said that according to the city’s latest Household Travel Survey, up to 21 percent of residents walked to work, places of learning or to other amenities.