Excuse the wobbly phone footage, but I spotted this a few days ago and thought it was worth noting. (You’ll miss little by muting the sound.)
This is the corner of Elizabeth Street and Little Collins Street in Central Melbourne, on the eastern side of the intersection.
We are looking south along Elizabeth Street. Cars come one-way from the left of the screen, heading west along Little Collins.
Many of these “Little” streets currently have no red/green man (“pedestrian lantern”) fitted, but there seems to be a program to fit them — I recall mention of it in the City of Melbourne Walking Plan.
It’s the timings I have a problem with:
- 00:01 Green man and main traffic light green starts
- 00:09 Red man starts flashing
- 00:13 Red man stops flashing, stays lit
- 00:28 Main traffic light goes yellow
- 00:31 Main traffic light goes red
You only get 8 seconds to start crossing. There’s 15 seconds of the sequence that could be used to allow more pedestrians to cross, which isn’t used.
I can’t see any reason to time it like that. The red man flashing should be at the end of the main traffic green time.
Possibly it’s timed identically as the eastern side of Elizabeth Street in order to prioritise turning cars into Little Collins Street. This is a questionable use of sequence time given pedestrians should have priority over vehicles in the CBD, but it makes no sense to use identical timings on the western side of the street.
Also notable is that this section of Little Collins Street is closed to traffic for several hours a day over the busy lunchtime period. During that time there is almost no traffic coming out here at Elizabeth Street; only a vehicle that entered before the closure and parked would be here.
The end result is that for a majority of the time, the red man is lit for no good reason.
And assuming the green time for traffic hasn’t changed, the green time for pedestrians has dropped by about three-quarters.
The way this is at present it’s practically inviting people to jaywalk — as shown in the video.
The City of Melbourne and their traffic engineers really should know better.
Update 31/3/2016: I did contact the Council about this. Going past today, I notice the timings have been amended… it looks like the Green man is now there for about 25 seconds every cycle — a vast improvement.