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Do we need an integrated traffic management system?

By beejay76 - 12 April 2011 32

I just drove from Harrison to Belconnen. I hopped down the GDE, stopping at every intersection for a red light. Then I stopped at every intersection on Gininderra Drive, then I stopped at every intersection on Coulter. By the end, I was getting the right royals, I don’t mind telling you. I’m not generally prone to road rage, but honestly!

It got me thinking about the light phasing. In Sydney, there’s a system called SCATS which manages the phasing of traffic lights to maximise the even flow of traffic. I’m guessing we don’t have anything like that in Canberra.

While Canberra doesn’t have anything like the congestion problems that Sydney has, there have been so many times where the shocking light phasing seems to stuff up the traffic. As I was watching all the cars around me stop every 15 seconds or so, even though the traffic was light, it made me wonder how much extra fuel is being wasted, and how much more carbon is therefore emitted, simply by poor phasing of traffic lights.

What’s Your opinion?


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32 Responses to
Do we need an integrated traffic management system?
Innovation 8:07 am 13 Apr 11

#11 gentoopenguin

+1 re synchronised traffic lights that assume a lower average speed than the speed limit. As well as environmental benefits and encouraging cultural change, it allows cars starting from a red light to “get with the flow of traffic” rather than being out of synch the whole trip. Northbourne Ave is a good example. If you are going through the Alinga St intersection when the light goes yellow, you can’t possibly make the London Circuit intersection without flooring it (interestingly, isn’t that where there is a red light camera?).

Also, I read that Stanhope says that roundabouts can cost up to $1.5m vs $600k for traffic lights which I found very surprising (eg surely ongoing maintenance of traffic lights (including costs of synchronising), costs of more serious accidents at traffic lights and higher individual costs of fuel and wear and tear would mean roundabouts are more economically viable). However, I still think the merits of roundabouts (with traffic lights to control peak flows if necessary) outweigh intersections with traffic lights only. I think my view is in the minority though as apparently the recent Canberra Times survey suggested that less people like roundabouts with traffic lights because they think that it would confuse drivers.

bd84 10:58 pm 12 Apr 11

One day the ACT Government and Roads ACT will move into the 21st Century. There is virtually no effort or ability in this city to even attempt to coordinate the traffic lights to make traffic flow smoothly which means almost every arterial road with multiple sets of traffic lights are stop and start all the way along.

I now avoid Yamba Dr between Isaacs and Hughes whenever possible due to the traffic lights adding 5+ minutes to the journey as you stop at each set. Northbourne Avenue is the same, if not worse. Then you add in the intersections where the light sequence is too short to clear the traffic and the ones where you and the other traffic wait for 5 minutes while the opposite direction stays green for zero traffic and the shemozzle is complete.

I’m not really holding my breath with hope that things might change with the current government and departments.

Chief Ten Beers 10:46 pm 12 Apr 11

gentoopenguin, thats germany for you! Here in Australia cars are bad. Cars are evil and drivers should be punished.I would not be surprised if they put in a priority bike crossing traffic light before they even start to realize the benefits of an intelligent traffic system.

JC 7:02 pm 12 Apr 11

damien haas said :

Some traffic lights seem totally unnecesary, i think there are several sets on Ginninderra Drive that could be replced by a roundabout, benefitiing everyone. A new set of lights has just been installed in Kaleen, which would have been better as a roundabout. In fact, im noticing a general trend away from roundabouts to traffic lights.

Even better Damian some of the ‘new’ intersections shouldn’t have been built. Same too with the ‘new’ one on Gungahlin Drive near Mitchell going into Harrison (I think).

Major roads like Ginninderra Drive should feed main roads that go around a suburb, not into the middle of the suburb. It cuts down on the number of roads off the main road.

gentoopenguin 6:03 pm 12 Apr 11

Having spent most of my life in Germany, I can only recommend Aussie (and in particular, ACT) traffic planners having a look overseas. “Intelligent” traffic lights have been the standard there for many years. Without these, German traffic within the major cities would have collapsed by now. The so called “green wave” also rewards drivers for driving at or just below the speed limit: You get one set of green lights after the next. Speeding won’t help because the lights would still be red once you arrive. And, as beejay76 mentioned correctly, there is quite an environmental effect too – the green wave lowers pollution, petrol use and noise … and, drivers are less stressed!

Btw, is there ANYONE in ACT Government reading RIOTACT? I so would not care about them snapping up the online community’s excellent ideas … if they only DID something …

damien haas 5:18 pm 12 Apr 11

Some traffic lights seem totally unnecesary, i think there are several sets on Ginninderra Drive that could be replced by a roundabout, benefitiing everyone. A new set of lights has just been installed in Kaleen, which would have been better as a roundabout. In fact, im noticing a general trend away from roundabouts to traffic lights.

beejay76 4:37 pm 12 Apr 11

Spectra said :

It got me thinking about the light phasing. In Sydney, there’s a system called SCATS which manages the phasing of traffic lights to maximise the even flow of traffic. I’m guessing we don’t have anything like that in Canberra.

Yeah, if only we had something like that. (3rd paragraph, in case you’re not much for reading).

…I used to travel up Drakeford drive and onto the parkway…

Because I’m sure nobody’s ever even thought about that….

Seriously people, 5 minutes with Google.

Thanks for the link. It confirms there is no coordination along those major roads. Every time a car approaches from a side street, the entire main thoroughfare is brought to a halt. Most irritating. At one intersection on Gininderra, I watched it go red (from my position pulling out of the previous red light) because a single car had arrived from a side street. There were about 20 cars halted along Gininderra to allow a single car minimal waiting time.

Jivrashia 3:39 pm 12 Apr 11

I bet you the person who came up with that acronym is having a good chuckle… Seriously the “S” (Sydney) was not necessary.

isaidno 3:03 pm 12 Apr 11

I some cases simple sensors could improve things a lot. I often have the problem of turning onto a road where there is no traffic. The light stays red until some traffic finally appears, at which time the light changes to stop them and let me through.

knuckles 2:51 pm 12 Apr 11

So SCATS is supposed to stop you getting the s***s? 🙂

Spectra 2:48 pm 12 Apr 11

Damn you, captainwhorebags. How am I meant to beat you to posting the same information if you don’t spend as much time as me adding snarky comments?

Spectra 2:47 pm 12 Apr 11

It got me thinking about the light phasing. In Sydney, there’s a system called SCATS which manages the phasing of traffic lights to maximise the even flow of traffic. I’m guessing we don’t have anything like that in Canberra.

Yeah, if only we had something like that. (3rd paragraph, in case you’re not much for reading).

…I used to travel up Drakeford drive and onto the parkway…

Because I’m sure nobody’s ever even thought about that….

Seriously people, 5 minutes with Google.

captainwhorebags 2:38 pm 12 Apr 11

This will answer your questions, including an explanation of why it may appear that lights are not co-ordinated at peak times on Drakeford Drive.

http://www.tams.act.gov.au/move/roads/traffic/trafficsignals

georgesgenitals 2:28 pm 12 Apr 11

Many years ago when I lived in south Tuggers, I used to travel up Drakeford drive and onto the parkway. I worked out that if you sat on 80km/h, you couldn’t get more than a couple of sets of lights green in a row. If, however, you started at the right time, and travelled at 95km/h, you could do the entire thing with green lights.

And I never got a ticket once.

Having smarter phasing of traffic lights to maximise traffic flow should be a given.

niftydog 2:23 pm 12 Apr 11

I’ve said it here before, traffic lights in their current form are technological dinosaurs. They essentially have not changed decades with the exception of going to LEDs. I’m amazed that there’s been barely any innovation in that whole time.

Sometimes they seem malicious – there’s just no way they could randomly be THAT bad.

In a previous thread here I think there was some discussion of a few managed sets of lights in the city.

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