Man decides not to play in football match

Time to cross

I stopped reading the SCMP years ago, but their letter column remains a delight

Adjust traffic lights to suit pedestrians’ needs

I refer to the letter, “Stricter speed limits for pedestrian safety” (February 1). I fully agree with the suggestions in the letter. On one specific point, referring to elderly pedestrians, your correspondent writes, “Many are scared stiff about being penalised for neglecting the traffic lights; they face a fine of HK$2,000 even when there is no incoming traffic”. This is a problem the Transport Department fails to acknowledge or address.

Very frequently, the time phase of traffic lights does not seem to be optimised and adjusted to suit current traffic conditions. This results in long periods of time during which a section of road might have little or no traffic but crowds of pedestrians are bunched up together on far-too-narrow pavements, unable even to walk along the pavement, let alone cross the road. It is extremely frustrating to wait for more than one or two minutes to cross a road when there is absolutely zero motor traffic.

This failure to account for pedestrian considerations needs urgent improvement. Traffic light phases at busy junctions should be constantly monitored and adjusted to facilitate pedestrian movements more readily when there is light traffic. This could be done by the central control room, where crossings are camera monitored. Artificial intelligence technology could also be used to adjust traffic light phases affording greater priority to pedestrians.

There is another possible feature that could be used in remote and less busy light-controlled crossings. This system is used extensively in the United Kingdom and Europe. The lights are normally kept on green in favour of vehicular traffic, but when a pedestrian presses a button at the crossing, the traffic lights are almost immediately switched in favour of the pedestrian, allowing them just enough time to cross the road before changing back in favour of vehicles.

P.A. Crush, Discovery Bay

I think it might blow PA Crush's mind, but Hong Kong already has several of these pedestrian-controlled crossings, as he would know if he had read Press the Button and Wait from here nearly 20 years ago.

The problem is that most people seem to be unaware of the magic that is available if only they would press the button.  They will stand there patiently waiting for the lights to change, and wait and wait. 

Most crossings are 100% automatic and they also have a button, but that is to make a sound when it is time to cross.  So it is possibly a little confusing.

A little.

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