Smart pedestrian crossings for London in pioneering new scheme

“Intelligent” pedestrians crossings are to be introduced on London’s streets within months in the first scheme of its kind in the world.

Traffic lights will be re-phased to give priority to pedestrians at busy junctions and enable crowds to clear to avoid people spilling onto the street.

Video cameras attached to the lights will detect the build-up of people in a virtual “box” and automatically extend the green phase when it fills up, keeping road users waiting on red.

If the pilot is successful it could be adapted to prioritise London’s growing number of cyclists particularly at morning and evening peaks.

A pilot will start outside Balham and Tooting Bec Tube stations this summer and if successful could be extended to other Tube stations and pinch-points such as major sports events and along busy high streets such as Oxford Street.

The innovative scheme has been inspired by London’s pioneering use of the “SCOOT” system which uses road sensors to detect traffic volumes at junctions and phase lights to green accordingly.

The use of SCOOT – split cycle offset optimisation technique –   was extended to enable the smooth flow of official vehicles during the Olympics. It is in use at 3,000 sites, with a further 1,500 by 2018, and has been credited with cutting delays by 12 per cent in the capital.

“Pedestrian SCOOT” was unveiled today as the mayor set out his plan to improve pedestrian safety and reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 40 per cent by 2020.

At quiet times, cameras will also be able to keep lights green for motorists by cancelling a request if the pedestrian has already crossed or walked away.

The mayor insists it is more efficient and safe way of funnelling people across busy roads and will not lead to road congestion.

Transport for London said the trials show how they are attempting to use technology to change the management of London’s road network to better reflect the character of the local area, which was one of the key recommendations of last year’s seminal report from the mayor’s Roads Taskforce, chaired by deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I am delighted that London is the first city in the world to be trialling this cutting-edge equipment, which will benefit pedestrians across the city. This really is a fantastic example of how London is leading the way by using 21st century technology to help make it easier for people to get around our great city. Innovation like this is key to keeping London moving efficiently and making our roads safer for everyone to use.”

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “We are fully committed to improving road safety for all road users across London, especially pedestrians. These new trials of Pedestrian detection technology will allow our traffic signals to become even more intelligent, bringing huge benefits to those waiting to cross the road where there is heavy pedestrian demand.”

Story and Image: London Evening Standard