Great news to end our 90th anniversary year as our long campaign for more time to cross the road is finally heeded.

Our policy coordinator, Dr Rachel Lee clarifies on a big step forwards.

 

Busy crossing

Our campaigning worked, and the government has listened.

It has agreed with the argument that Living Streets, our supporters and local groups, not to mention our campaign partners, have been making for years:

Crossings need to put pedestrians first and give them more time to cross.

This is the simple way of explaining this, of course. Here’s a little of the detail.

Earlier this month, without fanfare, the government published chapter 6 of its Traffic Signs Manual: Traffic Control.

It doesn’t trip off the tongue, but it’s a very important document because it tells engineers how to set up traffic lights.

And it advises that crossings may now be set to work on the basis that people cross at a more realistic 1m/s. Before the default setting was 1.2m/s.

Everybody should be able to cross the road safely, directly and without delay

More time to cross

Crossings should give everyone enough time to cross the road

What's the background?

Lobby Parliament

In 2013, our Time To Cross campaign called on the Government to review its guidance (Traffic Advisory Leaflet 5/05) to give pedestrians an extra three seconds to cross the road. We wanted the assumed universal walking speed of 1.2m/s to be reduced to 0.8m/s.

Researchers at University College London had shown that a majority of older adults cannot walk fast enough to use pedestrian crossings safely in the UK.

After looking at Health Survey for England (2005) data, the UCL team found that for men and women 65 years of age and older, the average walking speed was 0.9 m/s for men and 0.8 m/s for women. Furthermore, 84 per cent of men and 93 per cent of women over 65 had a walking impairment.

 

More than 8,000 people supported our campaign, which focused on the impact crossing times had on older and disabled people.

It culminated in a lobby of Parliament hosted by our Westminster Local Group, which included a choir who had composed a song asking then-mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to extend crossing times.

Here's a video of a segment from BBC London News in September 2013.

 

Crossings

We didn't stop there.

Longer crossing times still have a key role in making streets fitter for walking and we have continued to press on this issue whenever we talk to planners and decision-makers about.

And we have also seen our London Living Streets Group who worked with Transport for London on an innovative approach to reducing pedestrian wait times at crossings and assessing the impacts of pedestrian perceptions of crossings.

Crossings campaigning in London

What does it mean?

As part of a wider policy review, TAL 5/05 was brought into chapter 6 of the Traffic Signs Manual.

This now says “a lower design speed of 1.0m/s may be used, either on a site‑by‑site basis or as an area‑wide policy”.

So the changes to the walking speed are not exactly what we asked for, but it is a very welcome step in the right direction of considering and designing for the needs people on foot.

And significantly the emphasis throughout the guidance is a lot more focused on pedestrian experience. Right at the start it says that it will apply the hierarchy of provision (first identified in Manual for Streets and Manual for Streets 2) with pedestrians at the top and motor traffic at the bottom.

What you can do next