TfL to tender out £6m contract to reduce pedestrian times at 220 crossing in London

Transport for London’s Pedestrian Countdown scheme reduces crossing time for pedestrians, as part of a strategy to squeeze more road traffic through junctions.

London Assembly Member Val Shawcross has warned it will  make the city “less pedestrian-friendly”, and Green Party member Jenny Jones has raised concerns that it discriminates against “less agile Londoners and people with children”.

Run before you can walk: Pedestrian Countdown at Oxford Circus

The most recent minutes of TfL’s bi-monthly Finance and Policy Committee meeting reveal that they have now been granted authority for the procurement and roll-out of Pedestrian Countdown at Traffic Signals at 220 sites over three years  (p7).  They note:

This will reduce confusion and uncertainty and give pedestrians more confidence to cross before the red man. While (sic) also allowing a standard six second green invitation to be introduced with the remaining time allocated to trafficimproving efficiency and through put, and contributing to the Mayor’s objective of smoothing traffic flow.

The estimated final cost is £6m. The project will now be put out to tender.

Thanks to Boris Watch for highlighting these minutes on twitter.

Pedestrian Countdown: the facts

Some reminders about pedestrian countdown:

1. It takes time away from pedestrians and reallocates it to motor vehicles at some of London’s busiest crossings, including so far Oxford Circus and Holborn.

2. Walking speeds go up at crossings with pedestrian countdown, particularly in people over 60.

3. Transport for London claim that fewer people feel rushed crossing the road during pedestrian countdown. This is based on questionnaire responses, not walking speeds. It is also not true for mobility impaired people.

Is this legal?

Reducing time for pedestrians clearly negatively impacts people with mobility issues, older people, parents with children and pregnant women. Fortunately, public authorities and those who exercise public functions have due regard to eliminate discrimination against at least three of these groups.

Additionally, there is a significant chance that some other legally protected groups are over-represented as pedestrians, and therefore reducing times at crossings would disproportionately negatively affect these groups too.

I have sent Transport for London a Freedom of Information request, asking for any Equalities Impact Assessments relating to pedestrian countdown. They are obliged to respond by 1st September.

Get a grip, Boris

Pedestrian Countdown is an iconic, visible and explicit part of Boris Johnson’s smoothing traffic flow agenda, and it exemplifies the rotten state in which Transport for London operates under his stewardship.

In a swift and unambiguous way, road traffic is prioritised over pedestrians. Insultingly, press releases are then issued which try to sell this as a pro-walking measure. All the while, key documents remain unpublished until obtained through FOI requests.

Being a pedestrian in London is already unpleasant enough. Long waiting times, staggered crossings, pedestrian “cow pens”, noise, air pollution and of course road danger (even on the pavement).

People who walk in London – which, I’m afraid Boris, is almost everyone – aren’t going to put up with this forever.


12 Responses to “TfL to tender out £6m contract to reduce pedestrian times at 220 crossing in London”

  1. helenvecht Says:

    Great post!

  2. Mark Skrzypczyk Says:

    I’m seeing a pattern here, TFL implement a new design or feature and try to paint it up as “beneficial to pedestrians” whilst all it actually does is hinder them AND improve the situation for motorised vehicles!

  3. Tommi Says:

    TfL talks about “helping pedestrians” .. well, talk is cheap, I’ll believe it when I see some action: and

  4. Shaun McDonald Says:

    Is it any wonder cyclists and pedestrians go through red lights or cross on the red man when they have a huge time to wait when there is no traffic coming through the junction?

  5. @iambrianjones Says:

    Are TfL not requied to apply for planning permission? If TfL are exempt from planning laws – we are in a sad, sad state of affairs.

    • Futilitarian Says:

      Permission did have to be sought from the Department for Transport to install pedestrian countdown when it was initially piloted, as it’s a new type of crossing.

      TfL manage all of the roads where they’re rolling out pedestrian countdown (i.e. they’re all on the TLRN so TfL is the highways authority). So I would think that they don’t need to apply for planning permission – essentially they’d be applying to themselves.

  6. Tommi Says:

    So, who exactly approved the pedestrian hostile design of the pedestrian countdown signals? Did TfL approve the design all by themselves? Seems clear pedestrians were hardly represented considering comments from London Assembly member are ignored as usual. From what I gather the minutes were just granting the money to do the installation, but says nothing about design being fit for purpose.

  7. Lights out: more ways people are being designed out of London’s streets « Cycle of Futility Says:

    […] TfL are systemically engaged in the former. One policy which has received some attention is that they are explicitly reducing pedestrian time at existing crossings through Pedestrian Countdown. […]

  8. A tale of two bridges, and two cities | As Easy As Riding A Bike Says:

    […] taken away from pedestrians at those that remain thanks to ‘signal retimings‘ and pedestrian countdown. Motor traffic comes […]

  9. Top London Spa Says:

    Top London Spa…

    […]TfL to tender out £6m contract to reduce pedestrian times at 220 crossing in London « Cycle of Futility[…]…

  10. Tim Says:

    Reblogged this on peoplesfrontofrichmond and commented:
    Cycle of futility on why pedestrian countdown timers – as planned for Twickenham’s regeneration – are a shoddy pile of manure that have nothing to do with pedestrian convenience.

  11. Ed Says:

    These counters only take time away from pedestrians if the total (green + black) time is actually reduced. On my walk in to work I am ofter face the conundrum of a “black phase” crossing and hesitate, unsure how much time is left. In one case the black time is blatantly way too long, leaving cars idling unnecessarily whilst we pedestrians also wait. Whoever invented that “black” phase surely needs their head examined, the flashing green was far clearer IMHO. But I can’t see a problem with this countdown so long as the amount of time is set correctly. I’ve seen them in other countries and considered them a good idea.

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