Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Expert strata, facilities & building management services

ACT Government fixation with traffic lights

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be a number of quite adequate roundabouts (visitors often complained of going round in circles) but many of these have been replaced by lights.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?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
30 Responses to
ACT Government fixation with traffic lights
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newest
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.

gazket 6:17 pm 09 Feb 17

2017 The lights at the Barton roundabout is still being built ?????? its been 12 months… In 1940 they built the Putty road at 1 mile a day .

pink little birdie 5:03 pm 09 Feb 17

Spiral said :

pink little birdie said :

Round abouts are give way to the right.

Apparently not.

The ACT Government’s manual states:

“A driver entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout.”

Presumably this is to stop idiots ploughing into a large slow vehicle such as a big truck, however it seems that it could be interpreted that if a vehicle to your left enters the roundabout a split second before you and you hit them, you are at fault not them.

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.

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.

JC 4:57 pm 09 Feb 17

Chris Mordd Richards said :

Anyone from interstate: Too many roundabouts, should be traffic lights!!
Canberrans: Too many lights, should be more roundabouts instread!!

ROFL I love this city.

Seriously though, why can’t we use mid to long range LIDAR like the new driving assist tech cars are using right now to sense traffic approaching from a few hundred metres away and be able to adjust on the fly to suit traffic flows accordingly? It wouldn’t be cheap per se, but that expensive now?? Hmm, depends on what you would define as expensive, but at a rough guess I would say not prohibitively expensive considering the potential benefits. The programming surely wouldn’t be that difficult either, there are a lot of flexible modern languages that would probably suit better than the COBOL or C+ or whatever old code probably runs most of the lights, and why not throw part of a datacentre and AI learning system to analyse all lights in realtime and learn and adapt (with human approval and input of course) to better program individual sets of lights to different times of day and traffic flows. Hmm, anyone got a spare $5 mill they want to throw at a new start-up Traffic Light company? LOL

Most traffic lights are run by PLC’s, so a bit lower than cobal or C++. And really even with what is suggested don’t need to be much more complex to handle that anyway. It is all a matter of sensors and programming the actions you want the PLC to do.

JC 4:53 pm 09 Feb 17

Spiral said :

pink little birdie said :

Round abouts are give way to the right.

Apparently not.

The ACT Government’s manual states:

“A driver entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout.”

Presumably this is to stop idiots ploughing into a large slow vehicle such as a big truck, however it seems that it could be interpreted that if a vehicle to your left enters the roundabout a split second before you and you hit them, you are at fault not them.

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.

Not apparently, definatly not. The rule has been for many a year now give way to all already on the roundabout.

And there are plenty of cases where the difference may be more than a split second. One roundabout I hate is Drake Brockman Drive and William Hovell drive. Turning right off Drake Brockman drive onto William Hovell I’ve had a number of close calls where cars come too fast from William Hovell and don’t look straight ahead.

So yeah in a practical sense and for self preservation I will be extra cautious as to what is coming from my right and wait for them if I reckon they won’t stop or put me in danger and of course do what the law saws which is give way to vehicles already on the roundabout.

Mysteryman 4:35 pm 09 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.

That’s a common misconception. The law requires motorists to give way to vehicles already in the roundabout. There is no requirement to give way to the right.

Spiral 1:10 pm 09 Feb 17

pink little birdie said :

Round abouts are give way to the right.

Apparently not.

The ACT Government’s manual states:

“A driver entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout.”

Presumably this is to stop idiots ploughing into a large slow vehicle such as a big truck, however it seems that it could be interpreted that if a vehicle to your left enters the roundabout a split second before you and you hit them, you are at fault not them.

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.

Maya123 10:42 am 09 Feb 17

Innovation said :

Instead the Government seems to be ripping up roundabouts or making a mess of traffic light controlled roundabouts like the Barton Highway.

I went thought that a few days ago; the first time since it was finished and I found it an improvement to have lights there.

pink little birdie 10:40 am 09 Feb 17

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.

crackerpants 10:00 am 09 Feb 17

JC said :

bruce_lord said :

The extra 5 sets of traffic lights between the Phillip dealerships and the Woden pool is crazy. I often take 10 minutes to go 700m in peak hour. This section used to regularly take 3 minutes before all the extra lights.

What’s worse is you get the traffic light cycles not synced and Empty gaps that get filled by other traffic meaning you can’t move again when your light goes green.

You last sentence might answer your first question. If cars are entering and filling ‘gaps’, then they must be coming from somewhere. So in the past maybe those cars have been there but have been unable to get in, because all the gaps are filled with through traffic.

Refer to my post above re more traffic on the roads, it all has to be accomodated.

Traffic has definitely increased along that stretch, and the two new sets of lights are helpful for turning right across the median strip in and out of the Furzer St area. Safety along that stretch, however, was significantly compromised by the lack of mowing in summer, and a little routine urban maintenance might have saved the expense of traffic lights.

There is a little extra traffic at the moment due to Launceston St being blocked off (for new lights!!), and with the Cotter Rd also undergoing major works at the same time, both main routes out of Weston Creek are struggling. I am waiting from a reply from Meegan Fitzharris’s office as to why both major works were scheduled to be done at the same time (apart from “HERE Southsiders, have all your roadworks at once!”)

As for traffic lights as a general principle, Canberrans have enormous difficulty using roundabouts, with very few using their indicators correctly, if at all. Traffic lights work well, I appreciate that the cross-traffic has every right to get to where they’re going as I do, and in my opinion could be improved significantly by a) drivers responding promptly to signals, rather than holding everyone up because they’ve been sneakily texting in their lap and b) fitting Toyota Camrys with accelerators.

Innovation 8:28 am 09 Feb 17

Why can’t we have more traffic light controlled roundabouts? Lights, on each entry to a roundabout would only flash yellow (ie proceed but give way to all traffic already on the roundabout) or be red (to pause dominant traffic and let other traffic have priority on the roundabout).

Traffic lights alone often result in regular periods when all vehicles are waiting their turn (eg, in between each green light or when lights are green for a non existent vehicle or pedestrian), or when only one or two cars are clearing an intersection. T2 and public transport even could have priority lanes to be allowed continuous or more regular entry into roundabouts when safe.

These roundabouts would work better for motorcyclists and cyclists too as they often can’t trip the sensors at some traffic lights and have to wait for heavier vehicles. (The main flaw would be the need for pedestrian crossings or red lights exiting a roundabout to allow pedestrians to cross those sections. Any delay or clogging of the roundabout would be temporary at worst and far better than the current system).

Instead the Government seems to be ripping up roundabouts or making a mess of traffic light controlled roundabouts like the Barton Highway.

And I haven’t seen the stats but, while I suspect there are more accidents on roundabouts, i doubt the degree of damage and injury is anywhere near as great as occurs at intersections.

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2019 Region Group Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site