Call to Action: Let’s Put Pedestrians First at Crossings
December 2022 has seen temperatures sink far below zero. With priority being given to gritting roads rather than pavements, this creates hazardous walking environments for people not using a car to make their daily trips to school, shops, and work.
Cock-eyed British priorities. I must have missed the consultation on this. pic.twitter.com/Y6NWqHPbO7
— Bicycle-Riding Motorist (@MrHappyCyclist) December 17, 2022
Another example of this prioritisation of cars over pedestrians are signal-controlled crossings. The interval between pressing the button and traffic lights changing to green for people crossing can be minutes, meaning pedestrians wait in the freezing cold to wait for drivers in warm cars a mile or more down the road to pass before the signal changes.
One thing @OfficialTfGM could do overnight to prioritise walking over driving, as per the new Highway Code, is to change the timings of pedestrian crossings.
50 sec is far from the worst in GM, but achieving the 15 minute city is harder if you’ve to wait 50s to cross 2 lanes. pic.twitter.com/AXbcfYRHpo
— Sam Ⓥ (@MCRCycleSam) September 14, 2021
The existing traffic signal network is operated and controlled by Transport for Greater Manchester’s Urban Traffic Control (UTC). This includes 985 pedestrian crossings – Puffins, Pelicans, Toucans and Pegasus, and the new Sparrow (‘signalised parallel’).
There are some examples of short pedestrian crossing waiting timings – one is across the A6, south of Crayfield Road in Levenshulme, which changes within a few seconds and provides genuine continuity to people walking in the area. Another is across the newly installed Chorlton Cycleway on Barlow Moor Road, where pedestrians benefit from instant priority.
Now THIS is how pedestrian crossings should work. Instant change as soon as you press the button
— Sam Ⓥ (@MCRCycleSam) September 15, 2021
Prioritisation of pedestrians has long been a campaign goal for Walk Ride GM, and it would be in keeping with the Government’s Gear Change ambition that 50% of all journeys in towns and cities should be walked or cycled by 2030.
But currently, the balance is often wrong, with priority awarded to car drivers – and this is felt even more acutely during spells of extreme weather.
Change is possible. During the height of the pandemic in May 2020, TfGM announced part of their COVID emergency measures to enable greater pedestrian priority by lengthening pedestrian phases at Deansgate junctions. We know of many more that don’t accommodate those people who move more slowly, so why stop at those?
This issue remains one of the key asks within our Pedestrian Manifesto and now we’re encouraging you to take action by emailing GMUTC@tfgm.com to let them know about the crossings near you that should give greater priority to pedestrians. We’ve added a template below, and please add your own evidence and experiences.
Dear UTC Team,
I am writing to notify you of the long waiting period / short crossing phase time allowance for pedestrians at the crossing located at ____________________, and to request that you review this in line with the Bee Network’s ambitions to prioritise pedestrians.
Recently, I and others have been patiently waiting in the cold while those who choose to drive these short journeys are given the right of way. Even without the recent freezing temperatures, this wait time should not be acceptable when the Government’s Gear Change ambition is that 50% of all journeys in towns and cities should be walked or cycled by 2030.
There are other pedestrian crossings in the region – such as across the A6 in Levenshulme, south of Crayfield Road, and across Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton – where timings have been improved to take a few seconds. I welcome this and urge you to make the same actions across the whole network.