I get irritated every time I drive through this traffic signal as it turns red 24/7 because I can hear the cars behind me honking and the pedestrians watching me as I maneuver around this existing “crosswalk”. Can I spend money to make it orange at night, so when I cross it will stay activated and not turn red?
As it turns out, there are two traffic lights like this in the TKTC (Transport for London) area (City Hall and St Pancras) and the first light is where your options were to cross, and I asked the TfL team to give me an update.
“Crosswalks are the responsibility of local authorities. However, they often include technological settings that are dictated by technology as well as the systems used by the traffic signals themselves. Crosswalks also need to be able to respond to some level of movement in the surrounding area, and TfL’s regulations permit flashing red lights.”
Our manual notes the reference to a “Crosswalk regulation requiring red lights” – and the way those regulations are written means, in my experience, that traffic controllers have a tendency to automatically turn red lights on even if there is no activity at all. These red lights exist everywhere, and they can mean anything from triggering lights at junctions, to requiring motorists to turn around because it’s impassable, to requiring people on bikes to obey stop signs.
So in essence, as long as the lights are going, it’s automatically worth spending the money to change the colour of the crosswalk if only to tempt drivers to check out it. As it happens, red isn’t the only way traffic controllers can indicate an actual change of cycle path usage: their other tool is to dim the blue channel indicator, which happens about once a month at the junction of Waterloo and Green Park – although they aren’t trying to deter people from walking/biking when the signal is dimmed, it is ostensibly for people who are able to see the screen. In any case, you can change the colour of the crosswalk by pushing a button at the junction – although on that occasion, of course, the construction and work going on around it are always going to interfere.