The town centre has been gridlocked for months. The council has been hard at work hacking down the old traffic lights and pedestrian crossings signals and erecting shiny new ones.
For those gentle readers who live outside the U.K. This is how the old system worked.
You’d approach the road crossing, push the button (usually on a post to your right) and the ‘Wait’ signal would light. Directly across the carriageway there would be a post with lights to control the traffic and also lights to control the pedestrians. Traffic lights would change from green to red and the red stationary man would change to a walking green man. You could safely cross the road. Notice that you are looking up, and over, the passing traffic. Looking across the road in the direction that you want to travel.
The new system is different, naturally. The lights for traffic are the same, but the red and green men, instead of being high and in the direction that you are walking, are on the post with the button and the ‘Wait’ indicator. But now the ‘Wait’ indicator has changed to just a red box that is lit. So you have to be looking to your right and not over the traffic. The problem, that I found this evening, is if there are 4 or 5 people waiting to cross, and you are to the right of the post with the button you can’t see the red man change to green. You are totally at the mercy of the people crossing to give you an indication that all is well. If they’re the kind of people who just cross when they don’t see any vehicles then you could just blindly follow them. Instead of waiting for the correct signal.
So you have to be able to see the red and green men indicators to be sure that you can safely cross. This is only about 4 feet off the ground on a box, on a post. If there are many people waiting to cross, and someone is stood in front of the box then none of you can see the signal except those people really close to it. When the green man lights there is also an audible signal that it is safe to cross. If you’re hard of hearing you would still need to be able to see that the visual indicator has changed before attempting to cross.
Surely whoever designed these things tested them out. As far as I’m concern these new pedestrian crossing are a huge backward step.