Transportation

City Traffic Staff: Actuated Signals Will Accommodate Cyclists

By RTH Staff
Published December 04, 2008

Earlier this week, the City Traffic Department announced that they want to try and speed up traffic on James and John Streets, including spending $60,000 to convert four intersections to actuated signals, meaning they stay green for the major street until a sensor is activated to turn the light to red - either by a vehicle approaching the intersection on the side street or by a pedestrian pushing a button.

Transportation advocates cried foul, arguing that high speed traffic is detrimental to urban revitalization and that actuated signals don't respond to cyclists.

In response to the latter point, Daryl Bender, the city's alternative transportation manager, has forwarded a statement from City Traffic staff that they are still working out the specifics of the actuated signals, but they "intend to accommodate cyclists."

Staff are still "in the initial stages of the process" and can't provide details yet on how it would work, but they note that "a variety of strategies and hardware options" are available.

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By zach hargrove (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2008 at 12:16:48

Huh? There's stuff happening locally? :o)

This is good news I guess, but it's still messed up that the city is trying to make traffic go FASTER through downtown streets!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 04, 2008 at 16:28:03

I give up.

Let's just convert everything to one-way, bulldoze all sidewalks so we can get an extra 2 lanes of traffic and remove all stoplights so cars never have to stop. Then our city would really boom.

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By Hammerhead (registered) | Posted December 05, 2008 at 15:52:34

There does appear to be major bottlenecks in certain areas on John and James. But ONLY during rush hour. They need some sort of a solution to move this traffic. I don't think "speeding up" the traffic is the issue. Simply moving the vehicles so that they don't just sit there spewing toxic fumes - I'm wondering if this is somewhat counter - productive to one of the reasons we want the area to be more pedestrian friendly....?

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 05, 2008 at 16:21:33

exactly...traffic is now slower for a grand total of about 45 minutes during rush hour. That's how it should be. By my count, the only thing I can see needed is a left-turn advance signal northbound on John at King. Otherwise, leave it alone. People needing the Jolley Cut should be using John, not James Street.

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By Hammerhead (registered) | Posted December 05, 2008 at 16:47:28

Jason: John St is just as bad as James at rush hour. If you get a chance check out both streets between Hunter and Charlton between 5 and 6pm. There is nowhere to go. Beleive me, I am all for a pedestrian friendly downtown but apart from diverting more traffic to Wellington, I think there is a real problem here. Slowing down the traffic works great during non-rush hour periods. During the rush hour it's not slow - it's STOP. I don't think this is what was envisioned. Until we all magically stop using cars, all move across the street from of places of employment or there are better North/South routes, we will just be frustrating people and causing more pollution.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 05, 2008 at 19:17:05

if you want to reduce pollution, the answer is less cars. People will use their cars less when walking/cycling/transit are viable options to get around. Increasing vehicle times will result in more cars which equals more pollution.

Also, you answered your own question in the previous post - divert traffic to Wellington. It baffles my mind why people sit in traffic on James to head up to West 5th or Up. Wellington when a 6 lane freeway called the Claremont Access sits virtually empty 24 hours a day and also comes up to West 5th and Upper James (one street west of Up. Wellington). People need to be educated on a more 'car-friendly' route in and out of downtown instead of us sacrificing the quality of life and business on our major downtown retail/commercial streets for people who simply want to use downtown as their own personal SOV freeway.

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By Bee (anonymous) | Posted December 06, 2008 at 03:34:57

If it gets rid of the current timed lighting that's only useful in one direction, then I'm ok with it. Cyclists can trigger the inductive loops if they know where to position their bike.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted December 07, 2008 at 12:48:32

Putting in pushbutton actuators will encourage cyclists to ride on the sidewalks.

Also if drivers really cared about idling causing pollution, THEY WOULD CARPOOL.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted March 03, 2009 at 08:53:12

I think it'd be prudent to leave the situation as is. It hasn't been around long enough for people to adjust their routes to ease their frustration. Give it another 5 years... Then if necessary adjust the timing, don't put actuated signals in. The dangerous part about increased traffic volumes in the core during rush hour is because it's only a short amount of time before someone ignores the rules and pushes their way through a red light because they "didn't see it" possibly injuring someone in the process.

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By David (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2009 at 15:46:35

It's agonizing to go from an area that has all the traffic lights sensored, to one that uses timed lights. Not only is stopping traffic for no purpose wasteful, but it generates more noise with everyone re-accellerating. The sensored lights can be made very intelligent, such as stopping only the direction of traffic impeding the car in the left-turn lane, although to do it right, intersections need to be designed with the sensors in mind. You get better traffic flow, less frustrated drivers, and by not stopping cars unnecessarily, it relieves the biggest problem of traffic lights, which is bunching all cars together - cars flow with more separation. Any opportunity to install sensored lights is well worth the cost.

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