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ACT Government fixation with traffic lights

By Roger Allnutt 8 February 2017 30

Traffic lights Canberra

I read recently that back in the early 70s Canberra had only two sets of traffic lights but now there are well over 300 and increasing rapidly by the day.

Admittedly the population and hence the number of vehicles on the road have both increased substantially but do we really need so many lights. There used to be a number of quite adequate roundabouts (visitors often complained of going round in circles) but many of these have been replaced by lights. Are Canberra drivers so incompetent that they can’t safely negotiate a roundabout?

A major ‘aim’ of traffic lights apart from the question of safety at some intersections is to enhance an orderly flow of vehicles. To do this requires a degree of coordination between lights so that the flow is smooth and uninterrupted. Unfortunately in Canberra the opposite seems to be the norm. Even keeping to the designated speed limit it is usually the case that traffic will come to a halt at least every third or fourth light – this is a best case scenario.

One of the worst examples has been Northbourne Ave – before the current disruption being caused by the work for the light rail. Being the main thoroughfare you would expect that traffic on Northbourne Ave would have a degree of priority. My experience has been that any sole car or even pedestrian who approaches from a cross road instantly generates a change of lights. No wonder motorists on Northbourne Ave get frustrated and queues form – not to mention the waste of petrol for each stop and wear and tear on the engine. I can only imagine how frustrating it will be driving along Northbourne Ave when the tram is operational and has priority at each intersection. Imagine the rat running in nearby streets to avoid this situation.

Even more frustrating is the situation – quite common – where lights change even when there is no other vehicle in sight from the cross direction. I sometimes wonder whether the powers that be in Transport Canberra purchase the cheapest systems to operate the lights – a false economy give the vast amounts of taxpayers’ money spent on other aspects of transport in Canberra especially the never ending roadworks.

These problems are repeated throughout Canberra and are undoubtedly set to escalate. The latest addition to the traffic light ‘scene’ is the wondrous nine sets of lights at the intersection of the Barton Highway and William Slim Drive/Gundaroo Drive near Gold Creek. I gather locals are taking bets on the first major accident when motorists get totally confused by lane markings, turn indicators and the usual merging of lanes especially just after passing through the intersection.

What’s Your opinion?


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ACT Government fixation with traffic lights
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bryansworld 9:17 pm 12 Feb 17

HenryBG said :

Spiral said :

HenryBG said :

You wouldn’t need to prove anything. The person who runs up the back of you is at fault.

I’m curious about how you drive around roundabouts.

On most roundabouts if you were to hit someone who entered from your left, you would hit them from their driver’s side, not from behind.

er….because they decided to go around the roundabout sideways?

If you get to the roundabout first, then somebody who gets to it after you and enters the roundabout somewhere to your right (which is now behind you), will need to give way to you. If they fail to give way, they will hit you from the rear, obviously.

If somebody hits your vehicle’s driver’s side in a roundabout, chances are pretty high that it’s your fault for failing to give way.

Or they entered the roundabout going too fast to avoid a collision, even though they entered later than the car with which they collided.

HenryBG 6:37 pm 12 Feb 17

Spiral said :

HenryBG said :

You wouldn’t need to prove anything. The person who runs up the back of you is at fault.

I’m curious about how you drive around roundabouts.

On most roundabouts if you were to hit someone who entered from your left, you would hit them from their driver’s side, not from behind.

er….because they decided to go around the roundabout sideways?

If you get to the roundabout first, then somebody who gets to it after you and enters the roundabout somewhere to your right (which is now behind you), will need to give way to you. If they fail to give way, they will hit you from the rear, obviously.

If somebody hits your vehicle’s driver’s side in a roundabout, chances are pretty high that it’s your fault for failing to give way.

chilli 4:28 pm 12 Feb 17

We are definitely over-populated with traffic lights. What drives me particularly insane are the right turning red arrows. Outside of peak times (a couple of hours a day, Monday to Friday), there’s often nothing coming the other way – and how many hours (days!) of my life have I wasted sitting at a red arrow and staring at empty road?!

Why not have the arrow red for the first five seconds (to prevent idiots from turning into incoming traffic at the change of light) then remove it? Less need for a follow up green arrow, more smoothly moving traffic for everyone.

dungfungus 8:42 pm 11 Feb 17

HenryBG said :

bruce_lord said :

The extra 5 sets of traffic lights between the Phillip dealerships and the Woden pool is crazy.

Yes, it’s insane.

Woden should be redesigned with a one-way clockwise périphérique incorporating Melrose and Yamba and a new southern link between the two.
Saving every road user who passes through this area several minutes of transit time would provide a positive impact on productivity in the Woden Valley area, reduce pollution, and add to quality of life.

They’re improving traffic flow in Queanbeyan with a new link road around the Eastern side of town, while in Canberra all they do is fiddle ineffectively with intersections.

That suggestion has a lot of merit.

Maybe when the tram trundles through they can review it.

bryansworld 8:42 pm 10 Feb 17

Nightshade said :

pink little birdie said :

Fair enough if that is the road rule – but I agree it’s give way to traffic on the right as that is where all the traffic already on the roundabout is coming from that you need to consider.

But that’s not true – you have to give way to traffic already on the roundabout, which includes traffic ahead of you that has already entered from your left – i.e. you can’t rear-end the cars in front of you. Which is what the traffic belting along from the dominant direction with no intention of slowing down is not taking into account. So they basically intimidate other motorists into giving way to them when they don’t actually have the right of way.

I’ve done defensive driver training several times and this topic is always covered.

Bingo. Aggro driving 1, road rules 0.

bryansworld 8:40 pm 10 Feb 17

pink little birdie said :

bryansworld said :

How do vehicles get “priority” on roundabouts? Is that the thing where cars take advantage of their greater relative speed to go through despite other cars waiting to enter the roundabout from other roads? Basically intimidation tactics.

Round abouts are give way to the right. So if there are 2 consecutive sides of a roundabout that are busy and the other 2 are less busy the right most busy entry gets priority and the gaps for the 2nd busy entry
are far smaller as they rely on the 1st busy lane being held up by sporadic traffic from the less busy side.
Barton highway had this issue for people coming out of Gunghalin in the morning and coming from Belconnen in the afternoon. Isabella and drakeford had this issue too for people going north in the morning and south at night.

This is not correct. The law is that you must give way to traffic already on the roundabout. There is no give way to the right rule on roundabouts in the ACT.

Spiral 12:50 pm 10 Feb 17

HenryBG said :

You wouldn’t need to prove anything. The person who runs up the back of you is at fault.

I’m curious about how you drive around roundabouts.

On most roundabouts if you were to hit someone who entered from your left, you would hit them from their driver’s side, not from behind.

So again, even though they were legally in the right, it would look as though they have pulled out in front of you and been hit in the side. Thus it may be difficult for them to prove they were in the right.

HenryBG 12:05 pm 10 Feb 17

Spiral said :

It isn’t that they didn’t give way to their right, but that you didn’t give way to them as they got into the roundabout before you.

However I suspect they will not be able to prove they were there first so in practical terms, yes, give way to your right.

You wouldn’t need to prove anything. The person who runs up the back of you is at fault.

HenryBG 12:02 pm 10 Feb 17

bruce_lord said :

The extra 5 sets of traffic lights between the Phillip dealerships and the Woden pool is crazy.

Yes, it’s insane.

Woden should be redesigned with a one-way clockwise périphérique incorporating Melrose and Yamba and a new southern link between the two.
Saving every road user who passes through this area several minutes of transit time would provide a positive impact on productivity in the Woden Valley area, reduce pollution, and add to quality of life.

They’re improving traffic flow in Queanbeyan with a new link road around the Eastern side of town, while in Canberra all they do is fiddle ineffectively with intersections.

Nightshade 10:11 pm 09 Feb 17

pink little birdie said :

Fair enough if that is the road rule – but I agree it’s give way to traffic on the right as that is where all the traffic already on the roundabout is coming from that you need to consider.

But that’s not true – you have to give way to traffic already on the roundabout, which includes traffic ahead of you that has already entered from your left – i.e. you can’t rear-end the cars in front of you. Which is what the traffic belting along from the dominant direction with no intention of slowing down is not taking into account. So they basically intimidate other motorists into giving way to them when they don’t actually have the right of way.

I’ve done defensive driver training several times and this topic is always covered.

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