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”.
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 traffic, improving 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.