Saturday 23 August 2008

Simultaneous Green

What a difference a sign makes. The sign on the left is increasingly common at junctions in the Netherlands. It indicates that cyclists will get their own green phase at the lights and that when the light is green they can travel in any direction across the junction, including diagonally.

What's more, cyclists usually get two green phases per complete sequence of the lights, meaning that they wait for less time behind a red light. This leads to cyclists getting past the lights quicker than drivers. It works very well indeed.

A couple of days ago I made a video of riding across such a junction when I visited Groningen. Also there is a video of the same junction made by the fietsberaad, the Dutch panel of experts in cycling, which demonstrates the same junction from different angles.

Please also read other later / better blog posts about simultaneous green traffic lights. Also see many other examples on this blog of infrastructure which makes cyclists' journeys faster.


Anonymous said...

I highlighted this option in April 1998 to the Cambridge Cycling Campaign which in turn may have been noted by local highway engineers.

Nothing happened.

Cambridge in the UK continues to have some of the worst cycle infrastructure in Europe, indeed much of it is worse than none at all.

This does not stop the local authority promoting the city as the bicycle capital of the UK. The high level of cycling (for the UK)takes place in spite of the road layouts, not because of it.

And the Cambridge Council parties that come over to Netherlands to learn how to do it correctly? Still not able to get it anywhere near right.

Clearly some key staff in the Highways Departments for County and City of Cambridge need to be replaced for any progress in this area.

It is a very, very frustrating place to cycle, and no wonder David has moved to the Netherlands.

My brother lives in Offenburg, also a good example of proper cycle infrastructure. I may move there some day, to regain my sanity!

Anneke said...

In our city crossings are upgraded and improved, and while their working on the crossings for motorists, they simultaniously update the ones for bicyclists. Most of the crossings are now fitted with simultaneous green lights for bikes, a countdown at every light showing how long you have to wait and some crossings even have loop detectors for bikes now (no pushing buttons anymore).

David Hembrow said...

Anneke, I'm surprised that you say "no pushing buttons anymore", as this suggests you used to have to do so.

Perhaps I've mainly ridden in places where the upgrades have already happened, but in my experience here most crossings I come across generally have both buttons and a loop detector.

Not pressing the button makes no difference unless the loop detector is faulty and doesn't pick up your bike.

If nothing else the post with the button provides a handy thing to hold onto while waiting...

It is a source of irritation to cyclists in the UK that loop detectors in the roads often pick up cars but not bikes. So, you ride up to a red light and wait, and wait, and wait, until a car comes up behind and then the light will go green. It's one of the many minor problems that cyclists face with infrastructure designed for cars.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David- are there any cases of this on a T-Junction?

David Hembrow said...

I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be on a T junction, but I can't think of an example right now. If I see one I'll try to get a picture of it for you.

There is an example of a junction like this on an upcoming blog post which is on a very asymmetrical junction, that'll be up in a few days.

Anneke said...

Hey David, I was reading some of the archive posts, so I only just saw your reaction. Anyway, yeah we used to have buttons everywhere, the last time the bikepaths (and the roads btw) were upgraded was in the 80s I guess. Not very recently anyway, so I think the buttons are from the time from before the loop detectors, and haven't been improved since. It's not bad at all to have buttons, I mean, how much effort does pushing a button cost, after all. Loop detectors are better of course.