Why is it that at most traffic lights, the crossings for pedestrians are so narrow?
Even in Melbourne’s CBD, where heavy pedestrian numbers are expected, most crossings are far too narrow for the number of people.
It appears that technically, anybody crossing outside the lines is in breach of Road Safety Rule regulation 234 (a) – which says you can’t cross a road less than 20 metres from a crossing.
But in many cases, people have little choice but to cross outside the lines.
Short “green man” phases at some intersections mean that you might miss the lights if you crossed between the lines.
At King Street (corner Bourke Street), shown below at lunchtime, there’s only 12 seconds to start crossing, and only 30 seconds in total to cross – because roads authorities have prioritised north-south car traffic. (Hopefully King Street is one of the ones to be reviewed and modified.)
The default crossing width seems to match the footpaths that feed into it.
But this doesn’t make sense, as waits for traffic lights mean people cross in large concentrated groups – quite a different pattern from moving individually along a footpath.
This is not just a CBD problem. Suburban crossings are often too narrow – either not providing required capacity, or not taking into account desire lines, such as the flows here at Bentleigh station to and from the westbound bus stop.
To give authorities some credit, a few re-designed crossings provide a lot more space to pedestrians – at least in the CBD.
In some cases these have been implemented alongside upgraded tram stops, for instance, where the ramps plus the platform plus widened crossings can nicely fill the half-block.