Why aren't the traffic signals 'linked', so as to improve the flow on High Street, Vine Street and Abbey Road?
Linking signals to improve traffic flow on a primary route that passes through a series of junctions/ crossings can work where the traffic signals are relatively close together and where there is little to disrupt traffic flow between each traffic signal.
Unfortunately, the side roads and the on-street parking on both High Street and Vine Street mean there is too much disruption of flow for linking to be viable. There is less 'disruption' on Abbey Road, but the traffic signals at Abbey Bridge are too far from Vine Street/ High Street to be linked to the signals there.
The pedestrian crossing on High Street (opposite Lawrance's Bakery) reverts to the pedestrian stage (i.e. the green man) too quickly.
The timings for this set of signals were in-line with guidance and with other similar facilities around the District. However, as a trial, the time given to traffic before a 'green man' can be given has been lengthened (roughly doubled from what it was).
Safety is of paramount importance for any road-related infrastructure. There is a risk that the extended wait-time for people wishing to cross the road might tempt them to cross in unsafe ways, so the crossing will be monitored to ensure that everyone's safety is properly taken account of. Although the time given to traffic before a green man can be given has been lengthened, it is worth noting the following safety feature, which is common to all signalised pedestrian crossings:
If traffic approaching the signals is already stationary, and someone waiting to cross has pressed the button to request a 'green man', the signals will give that green man sooner than the timings might otherwise dictate. This avoids the danger and confusion that can arise when people are tempted to cross at a signalised crossing by 'threading' through stationary vehicles, without the benefit of a green man.
This is absolutely a safety matter, but it must be said that there would be nothing to be gained by neither the traffic moving nor the people who want to cross moving either.
This safety feature could give the misleading impression that the time given to traffic hasn't been lengthened.
Can the number of signal-controlled pedestrian crossings be reduced?
For the town centre to function, people need to be able to cross High Street and Vine Street, and they need to be able to do so safely. There is therefore no intention to reduce the number of signal controlled crossings.
Can the timings on traffic signals be adjusted to improve traffic flows?
No; all of the signals are set-up to provide the greatest traffic-flow capacity, within the constraints of safe operation and the road space available. All 'signalised junctions' have been modelled and the most efficient set-up adopted.
Why don't the signals respond to the traffic?
All traffic signals detect, and respond to, the traffic that is present. Induction loops in the road detect vehicles as they approach traffic signals and microwave detectors can sense the presence of people. The information captured by these detectors then feeds into and modifies the control of the signals. When there is a lot of traffic on the roads, the length of time given to an individual green light can be extended (until a pre-set maximum is reached).
Can the traffic signals in the town be replaced by roundabouts?
No; the very constrained road network either means that there isn't the space available for a roundabout, or where there might be, only a small roundabout might be possible. And the trouble with that is that 'small' roundabouts have limited traffic capacity and can give precedence to one approach road, to the detriment of all others. Roundabouts, of all sizes, are not conducive to people crossing on foot, in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters.
The traffic signals are the problem: can't we just get rid of them?
For decades the number of vehicles and the number of miles driven have both risen, closely tracking growth in the nation's economy.
Traffic signals might be where congestion is most readily apparent, but they aren't the cause of the problem.
Removing the traffic signals would have serious consequences for safety, it would mean certain roads would dominate all other traffic movements and it would seriously curtail accessibility for those on foot, in wheelchairs or on mobility scooters.
Why don't the traffic signals at Swan Lane beep when the green man shows? (And the same question for the signals at Abbey Bridge.)
There can be a 'green man' showing for people wishing to cross Swan Lane when all of the other arms of the junction are showing 'red' for pedestrians. If the green man for pedestrians on Swan Lane was accompanied with a beeping sound, there is a risk that a visually impaired person wishing to cross High Street, or possibly even Avon Street, might interpret this beep as the okay for them to cross. To avoid this problem, instead of a 'beeper' each push-button box is fitted with a 'rotating tactile cone'; this lets visually impaired people know when it is safe to cross.
A similar risk exists at the Abbey Bridge signals, but here it is the staggered crossing of Waterside that rules-out a 'beep'. The green men for the two halves of the crossing do not appear at the same time: if they were accompanied with a beep, a visually impaired person could easily misinterpret when it was safe to cross.
Why do the traffic signals always follow a fixed pattern?
When there is traffic on all of the approaches to a junction, the greens have to be 'given' in a fixed order. This helps the traffic signals operate efficiently and safely (efficiently because people become used to the sequence, allowing them to prepare to move off, and: safely because a random sequence might catch a less attentive driver out).
Traffic signals can abandon this fixed order when there isn't traffic on all of the approaches. If a vehicle approaches a traffic signal that is showing red, at a time when there is no traffic on the other approaches to that junction, then that vehicle can get the next 'green', even if this is out of the normal (busy) sequence. In this instance, which is most readily observed at night time, efficiency is best served by giving that vehicle the next green and safety isn't at question because there are no other vehicles present whose drivers might otherwise be caught out.
Why isn't there a green arrow for vehicles turning right from Cheltenham Road into Waterside?
When the traffic signals at the Abbey Bridge junction were updated, all possible options for how they could be set-up were modelled. The demand for right turning from Abbey Road (into Pershore Road) is greater than the demand for right turning from Cheltenham Road (into Waterside). A green arrow helps this greater movement of traffic (at the same time, straight on and left out of Abbey Road can both continue to flow). The only way to help the right turn movement from Abbey Road and to have a green arrow for the Cheltenham Road to Waterside movement would be for green arrows to run at the same time for both movements. But this would require straight ahead and left turning movements from both of those roads to be held on red and, as expected, the modelling confirmed that this option was less efficient than what is in place today.