The settings on traffic lights make pedestrians wait longer by giving higher priority to vehicle traffic.
Abaconda Management Group/Wikimedia, CC BY-SA
This is the fifth article in our series, Moving the Masses, about managing the flow of crowds of individuals, be they drivers or pedestrians, shoppers or commuters, birds or ants.
Traffic signals give priority to motor vehicles over pedestrians. This inequality undermines many of the stated goals of transport, health and environment policy.
State and city governments say they want to encourage walking and biking for many reasons:
- it is space efficient
- it has less environmental impact
- it is healthier
- it is safer for other travellers
- it reduces the numbers of cars on the road, so even motorists should be in favour of other people walking.
To help achieve these goals, road management agencies should reprioritise traffic signals to redistribute delays at intersections from pedestrians to cars.