City installs new tech to prioritize pedestrians over cars

The main idea is to turn it into the world's most walkable city.

After testing the technology for some time, in May 2021 – Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to introduce pedestrian priority technology at more crossings in the city as part of a drive to make London the world’s most walkable city.

A total of 18 new pedestrian crossings are to have the Green Person Authority technology, which means they are programmed to show a continuous “green person” (walk) signal until traffic approaches, making it easier for people to cross the road. This move will help make the British capital’s transport network even more sustainable and support a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of journeys made on foot has hugely increased throughout the pandemic, with TfL data from early 2021 showing that 31% of Londoners say they are walking to places where they used to travel by a different mode, and 57% say they now go on more walks for exercise or walk for longer than they did before. At one point in 2020, the number of journeys made on foot increased from 35% of journeys to almost 50%. The new traffic signals will further enable people to travel around London this way.

A number of factors have influenced the signal locations, including high pedestrian flow, proximity to pedestrian destinations such as shopping centers, stations and schools, and suitability of existing technology. TfL continues to identify new locations where Green Person Authority crossings can be introduced, with the aim of increasing their number over the coming years.

TfL has also recently extended its Lane Rental scheme to charge for roadworks on 20 of London’s footways. A charge of £350 per day was introduced for works that impact on the busiest areas of pavement in the UK’s capital, to minimize disruption to people walking. People walking, particularly those with accessibility needs, can be badly impacted by pavements being dug up, especially at the busiest times.

The Lane Rental scheme allows TfL to charge utility companies and infrastructure providers a daily fee for digging up the busiest sections of London’s roads at the busiest times. This encourages companies to plan their works outside of the most sensitive times. All money raised from the scheme is then reinvested in initiatives and innovations designed to reduce the congestion and disruption caused by roadworks across London.

TfL research has also shown that on average people who regularly walk to the high street spend up to 40% more than people who drive.

“Walking has so many benefits – it doesn’t just enable us to get from A to B, but also improves our mental and physical health. We know that safety is a key concern for people walking around London, and giving pedestrians priority is a powerful way of putting them first and making it easier to cross London’s roads,” said Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner. “By combining this with creating extra pavement space and ensuring roadworks are carried out in a way that doesn’t disrupt Londoners, we will make our city the world’s most walkable and eradicate collisions on our streets.”

Takeaway

In May 2021, Transport for London (TfL) announced plans to introduce pedestrian priority technology at more crossings in the city as part of a drive to become the world's most walkable city.

A total of 18 new pedestrian crossings are to have the Green Person Authority technology, which means they are programmed to show a continuous "green person" (walk) signal until traffic approaches, making it easier for people to cross the road. This move will help make the British capital's transport network even more sustainable and support a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of factors have influenced the signal locations, including high pedestrian flow, proximity to pedestrian destinations such as shopping centers, stations and schools, and suitability of existing technology. TfL continues to identify new locations where Green Person Authority crossings can be introduced, with the aim of increasing their number over the coming years.
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Action point

FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS:
More people walking (rather than driving) directly transfers into a healthier population. In that sense, cities across the world are coming up with new initiatives to promote walking, cycling and other forms of active lifestyle. By putting pedestrians first, you can nudge your constituents to walk more and at the end of the day that leads to healthier people. And that's exactly how any such program should be promoted - "we have nothing against cars, we just want people to walk more." Such an endeavor could also help you score some political points (and votes) along the way.

FOR BUSINESSES:
More people walking (rather than driving) directly transfers into a healthier population. In that sense, cities across the world are coming up with new initiatives to promote walking, cycling and other forms of active lifestyle. By putting pedestrians first, municipalities can nudge their constituents to walk more and at the end of the day that leads to healthier people. Perhaps your company could find an angle in such a business proposal to help orchestrate a new traffic system that would make this possible and then sell it to local officials as a way to have healthier people in their area. It could be a win-win across the board.