Saturday, 19 November 2011

Changing the traffic lights

If you know the Morecambe and Lancaster area then you will know that we have significant traffic problems especially on the route between Morecambe and Lancaster. Rush hours are bad and it doesn't get much better between rush hours. However there are times in the late evening and at night when you can drive at the speed limit.

I was driving home this evening and had to pass some traffic lights which have been recently built because of a new supermarket. I had to brake quite strongly and then had plenty of time to see that no cars came out of the car park. There must be so many changes of lights when no cars go in or out of the supermarket car park as it isn't open 24 hours but the traffic lights don't know that.

I have noticed traffic lights changing when there is next to no traffic on the road on many occasions and thought about the way the French turn their lights to flashing amber. In this way drivers take responsibility for themselves. What it would mean is that drivers wouldn't have to break sharply or stop at all when there is no reason at all to do so.

It may even be the case that turning off traffic lights will improve the traffic during the day. In Portishead they found that doing this reduced travelling times by over 50%. Flashing amber trials have been carried out in Portsmouth and considered in other towns and cities, but change is not without its critics. What do you do if two cars come to a junction at the same time. Well the answer is easy if you have ever seen traffic lights out of action. The two car drivers work it out between themselves and the traffic moves so much better.

Change the world


  1. Someone who used to work where I do had been told by a friend in the "Planning department", that any traffic lights, crossings etc on the Lancaster- Morecambe route will get the ok, so that the traffic gets worse, thus putting pressure on for the by-pass. I don't know if it is true or not, but as sure as eggs are eggs, if the people of the committees deciding whether the bypass is to be built lived in Morecambe, I'm sure it would be built by now.

  2. Thanks Sea. It makes you wonder why we aren't talking about reducing the number of traffic lights or simply switching them off.

  3. When they are out of action traffic seems to flow better on the whole

  4. There is a letter in this week's Visitor by Eric Smith saying the same thing. I have sent a letter to answer his question about Portishead.