posted 9 months ago

Is It Time To Scrap Traffic Lights?

Remove 80% of traffic lights to boost the economy, benefit the environment and enable traffic to flow smoothly, think-tank argues.

It says a high proportion of traffic regulation is “detrimental” and from 2000 to 2014 the number of traffic lights increased 25%. It argues this – in conjunction with a rise of signage, 20mph zones and bus lanes, etc. – places “enormous burden” on the economy”.

If traffic management measures cause a 2 minute delay to every car trip, the cost to the economy is “approximately £16 billion a year”, the report suggests.

The Institute of Economic Affairs highlights its environmental concerns too. It claims: “Traffic lights add to fuel consumption as drivers brake and accelerate (thus) increasing emissions, noise pollution and harmful health effects (and) bringing considerable extra costs.”

The Government Did Recently Promise To Cut Down On Unnecessary Signs...

In other words, vehicles are more environmentally efficient while cruising at a consistent velocity, rather than stopping and starting.

Furthermore, the report argues: “A 2006 study estimated that traffic lights in the UK consumed 102 million kwh of electricity a year, equivalent to around 30,000 homes. As a result, approximately 50,000 tonnes of CO2 entered the atmosphere.” 

Replace Traffic Management Systems With Shared Spaces

“Shared space” environments provide an alternative to traffic lights and other management measures, the report suggests. It argues: “Conventional traffic infrastructure such as traffic lights, road markings, railings and bollards have no place in shared space.

As soon as drivers are free of vexatious regulation, they behave differently.

They see pedestrians and cyclists as fellow road users, and make common cause. It becomes a case of after you instead of get out of my way”.

Its case study suggests this type of deregulation had a positive impact in Poynton, in Cheshire. Journey times and delays have dropped, the report argues. 

It adds: “A high proportion of traffic lights should be replaced by filter-in-turn, or all-way, give-ways.”

Furthermore: “Many bus lanes, cycle lanes, speed cameras and parking restrictions should also go. Culling such traffic management infrastructure would deliver substantial economic and social benefits”, the report says.

Dr Richard Wellings, Head of Transport at the Institute of Economic Affairs, commented: “For to long policy makers have failed to make a cost-benefit analysis of a range of regulations – including traffic lights, speed cameras and bus lanes – making life a misery from drivers nationwide.”

He added: “It’s quite clear that traffic management has spread far beyond the locations where it might be justified”.