Safer roads with better junctions

Many people tell me of the difficulties they experience getting around in our local area. I sympathise as I get stuck in the same jams. Some of it comes from roadworks, where they are best done at less busy times of year and need to be done as quickly as possible. Much of it comes from inadequate junctions.

Junctions are also the place where there is most danger, with traffic of all kinds in potential conflict with each other and with pedestrians as cars and bikes, pedestrians and lorries try to cross lanes and change direction. I am encouraging the Councils to take another look at all their main junctions with a view to making them easier to use and therefore safer.

Traffic light controlled junctions can be improved by

  1. Changing phasing of lights to reflect relative traffic flows
  2. Introducing traffic sensors to regulate phases
  3. Allowing main road priority with traffic sensors for side roads
  4. Introducing right turning and or left turning lanes to segregate traffic
  5. Allowing left turn phases on a filter .
  6. Removing lights from roundabouts or making them part time only for the peak
  7. Introducing short phase right turn off a main road with longer phase for main road with green in both directions
  8. Pedestrians to have green phase lights, phased with the road traffic lights.

Roundabouts

Often a better choice than light controlled junctions.

Large roundabouts need clear lane marking where two or more lanes of traffic possible and permitted

 

I would be interested in feedback about these principles, and open to suggestions to pass on to our local Councils about how individual junctions can be improved.

 

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4 Comments

  1. Adam
    Posted December 23, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Crossroads obstruct as the main cause of jams
    (ie traffic blocking the path of other vehicles).

    Crossroad traffic lights obstruct even when the path is clear.
    Road repairs act in a similar way.

    Roundabout lights create jammed crossroads.
    Changing direction does not cause jams; differences in vehicle speed do, as do crossroads ahead.

    Separating the locations or opening times of major attractions may have good effect, depending on Wokingham’s circumstances.

    Radio broadcasts warn of jams after they have occurred. Nationally, with Satnavs, destination density can be known at source, so jams can be prevented BEFORE they occur. A simple local solution might fit Wokingham’s needs.

  2. Claude Medeot
    Posted December 23, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Roundabouts are a good thing but requires that the average driver be educated to understand the basic principle of its intent – to merge traffic at a reduced speed allowing for traffic to flow at a good rhythm.
    Roundabouts in France for example are a disaster because the local (French person ed) thinks he/she is Zorro of the road and comes zooming into a roundabout with one thing on his/her mind – I have the priority, or they think that they have.
    Roundabout work when people use common sense and respect to insure a proper flow in and out and not have a railroad car effect with one flow of traffic that blocks ingress to the roundabout from another artery disrupting an even flow of movement.
    Bottom line: all drivers need to know the rules of courteous driving because no matter how much is invested in providing good roundabouts if you have half fast twit nit drivers you defeat the purpose that you’re trying to achieve.

  3. N Lintott
    Posted December 23, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Road junctions are governed by the same classic tension of control vs efficiency that rules so many areas of life.

    Roundabouts are very good ways to smooth the traffic at junctions with the least delay but they depend on drivers with some skill and their wits about them.

    However, I can’t agree that:

    “Large roundabouts need clear lane marking where two or more lanes of traffic possible and permitted”

    They work best when they are spacious and completely free of markings. They are, in effect, a sort of shared space where one has to negotiate a way to the desired exit with other drivers.

    Putting lane markings on roundabouts in an attempt to make them ‘easier’ to use nearly always has the opposite effect. Navigating a roundabout is a co-operative venture that needs drivers to change the lines they are driving along as they go round. If there are ‘clear lane markings’ it gives the impression that one has a ‘right’ to be in a certain position and so anyone crossing it is ‘wrong’ hinders the smooth flow one is after. This is further complicated when lanes are labeled with road numbers or destinations because in practice it is very difficult to read them as they are hidden by the vehicles in front leading to confusion and last minute panic maneuvers.

    Keep roundabouts simple and for goodness sake don’t block drivers’ view as they approach them to ‘slow them down’. The idea is to merge smoothly whilst in control and the more time there is to make that judgement the better it’s likely to be.

  4. Alan Jutson
    Posted December 23, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Would agree with many of your suggestions John, but Wokingham Council seem to have cornered the world with the installation of traffic lights, we now have so many sets so close together, that free traffic flow is but almost impossible.

    Just look at the farce on the new Kings road junction. four way traffic lights just 400 metres (if that) from the Winnersh crossroads, also four way traffic lights.

    Only the A329 has a left turn filter controlled by another light, but no real length of road to the filter so ongoing standing traffic blocks the use of such.
    The new Kings road Junction has no left filter at all, I sat there this morning for quite a few minutes with not much traffic around, staring at an empty exit with no traffic at all going past.

    Road works should be 24/7 where it involves a major road.

    Wokingham also seems to have cornered the market with a proliferation of traffic signs, white lines, zig zag lines, cross hatched lines, and coloured tarmac, yet still potholes remain un-repaired for many months.

    Will be interesting to see how the new narrow, bendy estate roads cope with the suggested name of Southern and Northern relief roads when they open, As I cannot see much heavy duty traffic using such roads, especially as these roads are also used for/by residents to park their and their visitors cars on them.
    A huge opportunity lost when such roads could have been built to the correct scale before all of the new housing development.

    Reply I have ssked the Council to change the junction in King Street Lane as I agree it is causing new delays.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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