Infrastructure Why are there several traffic lights



1 Infrastructure Give Cycling A Push INFRASTRUCTURE / INTERSECTIONS AND TRANSITIONS INTERSECTIONS WITH TRAFFIC LIGHT CONTROL Overview Crossings with traffic light control are always a danger for cyclists. Nevertheless, they are indispensable when it comes to crossing busy roads. Cyclist-friendly planning must ensure that the cyclist is clearly visible, that short and simple maneuvers are possible and that the waiting time is reduced, for example, by making a permitted right turn or an early stop line. On the main routes of the cycle traffic network, cycle traffic can be given priority over motorized traffic with its own traffic lights and cyclist-friendly traffic lights. Background and objectives Function Intersections are often equipped with a traffic control system when they have to cope with large volumes of traffic on busy, mostly multi-lane urban roads. Cyclist-friendly planning can improve safety, speed and comfort by improving visibility, enabling maneuvers and reducing waiting times. Area of ‚Äč‚Äčapplication Crossings with traffic light control are always only the second best solution for cyclists in terms of safety. In fact, the intersections of two streets with traffic lights are very dangerous and should be avoided if possible. Dutch studies have shown that roundabouts are significantly safer than traffic lights at the intersection of two streets with a traffic volume of up to vehicles / day. In practice, traffic lights are used when an intersection has to cope with a high volume of motorized traffic quickly. With traffic lights, a traffic volume of vehicles per day is possible, which exceeds the capacity of a roundabout. At least one busy main road with several traffic lanes is typically involved (50 km / h in built-up areas, higher speed outside built-up areas). Often these busy roads are also used as important links in the cycle path network. Many correspond to historical routes and connect important destinations, mostly the city center, in a largely direct line. In these cases it is logical that important local cycle paths or even main connections for cyclists should follow the same arrangement. Here, the situation of cyclists must be improved through special measures. There are some situations in which traffic light switching is recommended in a cycle path network. An important local or main cycle route along a busy main road crosses another main road (both roads more than vehicles / h). A subordinate cycle path crosses an extremely busy main road (approx. Vehicles / h). The traffic connection is an independent path, an access road or a main road. Crossings with traffic lights Page 1 of 6

2 A cyclist tunnel is recommended if the traffic volume exceeds that of vehicles per hour. 1 Cyclists normally use their own lanes or cycle lanes on main roads. Realization Definition An intersection with traffic light control is equipped with a traffic control system. Signal lights with the colors red, orange and green regulate the flow of the different lanes to the intersection. In this way, possible conflict situations are rectified on a temporal, but not on a spatial level. A traffic control system is intended to optimize the flow of traffic by balancing the traffic on the various access roads and preventing congestion at the intersection. A cycle consists of two or more phases. Successive intersections with traffic light control can be linked to each other in order to improve the flow of traffic over a longer distance. Alternatively, the traffic flow can be slowed down by the regulation, for example to reduce the number of vehicles entering a city center and to move the traffic jam outside. There are several planning options available to improve the safety of cyclists. In addition, the traffic light control can be adjusted so that the waiting time for cyclists is reduced. Cyclist-friendly planning at traffic lights Due to the high number of motorized vehicles, when planning the intersection, care must be taken to improve the visibility and safety of cyclists. A simple but effective option is to allow cyclists to turn right on red. A dedicated right-turning bypass for cyclists in front of the traffic lights enables cyclists to turn right without stopping. In order to safely thread their way into traffic, cyclists must be able to use a cycle lane, cycle path or other protected area. In this way, the cyclist has a clear advantage over motorized traffic without violating the traffic light regulation. In some countries, for example the Netherlands, there are traffic lights where cyclists turning right are exempt from the traffic light regulation without having to use their own path. In both cases there are potential conflicts with crossing pedestrians. Therefore, this solution should be limited to areas with few pedestrians. 1 See leaflet LEVEL-FREE CROSSINGS Crossings with traffic light control, page 2 of 6

3 Solution for a right-turn bypass in red (source: Vademecum fietsvoorzieningen, Vlaanderen) A bicycle bypass in red - example from Great Britain (left-turn) (source: Cycling England, Rob Marshall) Another simple and very effective regulation is an early stop line for cyclists. The stop line for motorized traffic will be moved to the rear and a stop line for cyclists will be drawn 4 to 5 m in front of it. This creates a preferred stopping area across the entire lane for cyclists in front of all lanes of motorized traffic. This should be marked with a bicycle symbol. A colored covering would also be possible. A feeding cycle lane is recommended. In this way, cyclists can bypass the waiting traffic and drive directly to the preferred stopping area. The length of the bicycle lane should correspond to the maximum length of the waiting traffic. The cycle lane is to the side of the road, but sometimes also between the traffic lanes. The feeding strip can also be a combined bus / bicycle lane. In the anticipated waiting area, all cyclists (left-turners, right-turners, straight-ahead drivers) can line up in front of the motorized traffic as much as possible. They also get a head start when the traffic light turns green. This measure can quickly be introduced as a popular general method at all traffic light-controlled intersections and thus become a uniform and recognizable rule throughout the city. Alternatively, a separate lane for cyclists can be planned between the lanes for cars. This is done for traffic turning to the left, turning right and driving straight ahead. This area reserved for cyclists increases the visibility of cyclists. The parking lane for cyclists should be approximately 10 m long and 1.5 m wide (the adjacent parking lane for cars should be at least 2.75 m wide). It can be combined with a drawn-out stop line. The traffic lane turning right can be led by a bicycle lane to the right. If the road is widened for traffic by a right-turn lane, the cycle lane can simply continue straight ahead. In this way, traffic turning right must cross the optically clearly marked cycle lane in order to get into the right-turn lane before turning right. The same solution is also used for cycle paths: the cycle path continues straight ahead and the right-turn lane is implemented to the right of it. A signal threshold that can be driven over can be created between the cycle path and the turning lane. The left turn process is a difficult threading process at traffic lights. To mitigate this, cyclists are often initially led slightly to the right before they cross the traffic in a straight line. There are two ways to do this. Crossings with traffic lights Page 3 of 6

4 Give Cycling A Push Up to now, a two-stage left-turn process usually had to be carried out. When the traffic light turns green, the cyclist first crosses the side street on a cycle lane or cycle path and then has to wait for the next green phase in the other direction to cross the second street. This is not only the indirect way, but also very time consuming. The same process can also be carried out in one step. For this purpose, a separate stopping area for cyclists turning left must be created in front of the traffic lights. If it is green, the cyclist initially turns slightly to the right into the stopping area. This area is on the right before the red light. As soon as there is a gap in the traffic, the cyclist can cross. The disadvantage is that this maneuver can appear illogical and surprising to other road users: The cyclist crosses the intersection in a direction in which the traffic light is red. Preceding stop line (Copenhagen), right-turn lane to the right of the cycle lane (Dordrecht), stopping area for left-turners (Bremen) (Source: F. Boschetti, P. Kroeze) Cyclist-friendly traffic lights Normally, traffic lights are switched in such a way that a high volume of motorized vehicles can flow away quickly. The travel times for cyclists and pedestrians are often short, but the waiting times are long. Queues or an overcrowding of cyclists are not a problem, as they rarely occur (only when an average of more than 1 cyclist per second on a cycle path) The real problem is the waiting time and the delay. Driving speed and driving time are of great importance for the quality of a transport network, especially on the important connecting routes. The fewer delays there are in cycling, the more it is preferred to other modes of transport. Other priorities can be set in the urban area. It is recommended to define fixed waiting times at traffic control systems for all road users. For example, maximum waiting times for pedestrians and cyclists can be set at the expense of the traffic flow. If the flow of traffic plays a role for cyclists on important cycle paths, cyclists can be given advantages over motorized traffic. The most effective methods should be implemented in champion cities2 and possibly on busy cycle routes in climber and champion cities. An important measure is to reduce the general duration of a cycle as much as possible. 2 A good value is an average waiting time of 15 seconds for cyclists. Avoid more than 20 seconds. The average waiting time corresponds to half the red phase. When crossing a main street with no traffic lights, the waiting time may be shorter. At peak times, however, cyclists often have to wait up to four times longer. The leaflets for implementation deal with problems in cities with different bicycle maturities. They are tailored to already leading European bicycle cities (champion cities) as well as to bicycle newcomers (starter cities) with very little know-how and to cities with a medium level of experience (climber cities) in the field of bicycle traffic 4 of 6

5 The recommended maximum waiting time for cyclists is 90 seconds in built-up areas and 100 seconds outside built-up areas (maximum waiting time corresponds to the entire red phase). As a precautionary measure, traffic phases are often unnecessarily extended to 120 seconds. In many cases, reducing this time not only benefits cyclists, but also improves the general flow of traffic. Custom traffic lights can be used in various ways to give cyclists more green phases. Cyclists can start earlier this way. In this way, cyclists can cross an intersection safely and visibly in front of motorized traffic. This is especially recommended when many cyclists turn left or many cars turn right. The effect corresponds to that of drawn-out stop lines (see above). Cyclists can move together and without conflict. This should be integrated into the system by default. Cyclists can also get their own green phase in all directions. This means that all cyclists can cross the intersection in all directions at the same time while the motorized traffic is stopped. This avoids all conflicts between cyclists and cars. However, there is a risk of collisions between cyclists, but these are generally not that dangerous. However, this increases the waiting time for motorized traffic. Alternatively, traffic lights with push buttons are conceivable if a separate cycle path crosses a main road. This is recommended for safety reasons, when it is expected that the right of way will not be respected or when the traffic flow is too high. Cyclists can be given preference through dynamic traffic detection systems. For example, the green phase for cyclists can apply as long as no other vehicles appear (detection of motorized traffic). Alternatively, motorized traffic can be stopped until no more bicycle traffic is detected (recognition of bicycles). The second solution has the disadvantage that waiting times for motorized traffic can increase unpredictably. This can lead to confusion, so that motorists assume that the traffic light is malfunctioning and drive anyway. Bicycle traffic lights can show with a countdown display when the signal changes to green. Research in the Netherlands has shown that cyclists perceive the waiting time as 50% shorter. In addition, the red signal is ignored less often. The disadvantage of the countdown control is that it only works in conjunction with a static traffic light control. With a dynamic, traffic-dependent traffic light control, the countdown times would become irregular and therefore useless. Traffic lights can also be regulated in favor of cyclists without their own bicycle traffic lights. If the number of left turns is high, all left turns can be combined in one phase, including cyclists. Only left-turners are given the green light, while straight traffic has to wait. This creates flowing left-turn traffic without conflicts. The two-step left-turn process is no longer required if left-turn and driving are allowed at the same time. The flow of bicycle traffic can be restricted to one direction of travel. In this case, the main bike lane could get green twice in one cycle. This would cut the waiting time by half. However, the cycle as a whole and the waiting times are lengthened in the other directions. Traffic lights can be coordinated across multiple intersections to create a green wave for cyclists. This approach is often used for motorized transport, but it is also suitable for cycling. It is useful on routes with a high volume of bicycle traffic, for example on a cycle lane or a separate cycle path. However, this is only recommended if the intersections are not too far apart (approx. 100 m). Otherwise the groups of cyclists will be torn apart due to different speeds. This approach can be combined with a detection signal so that the green wave appears when there are few cyclists

6 coming is interrupted. The green wave for cyclists can lead to longer waiting times in the other directions. The sole responsibility for the content of this leaflet lies with the authors. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. Green light for cyclists in all directions and right turns for cyclists always allowed (Source: T. Asperges) Summary Strengths Weaknesses Road markings can be a cost-effective method to improve the visibility, safety and comfort of cyclists: preferred stop lines, turning lanes, stopping areas for Left turn. They can easily be retrofitted at almost all existing intersections with traffic light control. During the physical planning, bicycle bypasses can be used to avoid waiting times. A cyclist-friendly traffic light regulation with or without bicycle traffic lights can offer great advantages when there are high numbers of cyclists. Intersections with traffic lights are always dangerous for cyclists when there is high traffic and unpopular because of the waiting times. Road markings are suitable for experienced cyclists, but not for unsafe cyclists and unaccompanied children. In these cases, alternative routes must be offered. Some cyclist-friendly solutions extend the waiting times for motorized traffic and are therefore only justified if there is currently or will be a high volume of bicycle traffic in the future. Alternative options In the case of moderate traffic volume or if the volume of traffic is to be reduced, instead of a traffic light control, the construction of a KREISELS is an option. If the traffic volume is too high for safe cycling, LEVEL-FREE CROSSROADS are a suitable solution. Acknowledgments This was produced with the financial support of the Intelligent Energy Europe program.We also thank the Accell Group for their financial contribution to the translation of the document from English into German. Crossings with traffic lights Page 6 of 6