Skip to content Skip to main navigation

News

Excellence in Public Sector consulting

Filter Turns

By youami 1 December 2009 34

Now I have ranted on this topic previously but thought with the number of road-based posts cropping up recently I thought I would add a post to gauge what others see in this.

My gripe with ACT has always been the use of red arrows to prevent drivers turning right at all times day or night, even when there are considerable gaps in the flow of oncoming traffic.

According to the TAMS website, “…the ACT uses the same national standards to determine the use of arrow signals as other states in Australia.

The reason we have so many red arrows is because of safety, and basically stems from the high quality road system in the ACT. Many of our arterial roads are multi-lane with a speed limit of 80kph. Research clearly shows that the higher the speed of the oncoming traffic and the wider the road that has to be crossed, the more difficult it is for a right turning driver to choose a safe gap in oncoming traffic...”

Absolutely ridiculous!  I think it is because the traffic signals are recycled from other states.  But anyway my rant isn’t about using hand-me-downs.  If safety and speed are the real issues, then why do those same intersections with red arrows allow traffic turning left onto the same road free to turn at any time?  In fact, most intersections in ACT have a left-turn slip lane and contradict national standards. 
Secondly, let me give you an example of why the excuse of safety and speed is nonsense.  Canberra Av and Nyrang St intersection has lights with red arrows.  Less than 50m to the west the intersection Canberra Av and Dalby St has no lights but the same road conditions (ie. side street turning onto road with 80km/hour limit) apply.  In fact, you could argue Dalby St is more dangerous due to the rise of Canberra Av from Hume Pl (roundabout) that limits view of oncoming traffic moreso than the intersection with lights.  I just think it is part of the nanny-state and inconsistency with road design and possibly the fact that ACT is relatively immature when it comes to major road construction and traffic volumes.  Do others agree?  I have also seen many intersections where they have installed red arrows where they previously had none or installed red arrows at intersections as they upgrade them.

And don’t forget that stopping a major road for one car to turn right costs money, time and fuel.  Spread the cost of waiting unnecessarily for 30 seconds by 300,000 cars etc etc.  btw, in case someone runs me down, I do support safety and traffic management, so wherever the intersections do warrant red arrows I don’t see a problem.

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
34 Responses to
Filter Turns
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
indigoid 8:17 am 03 Dec 09

bd84 said :

But given the Government can’t even co-ordinate sets of lights, not much chance of that happening anytime soon.

IME a lot of them seem to be setup such that you will average a certain speed (approximately the speed limit) through a section. A good example of this is along Hindmarsh Dr. between the Canberra Hospital lights and Dalrymple St. If you go faster than 80km/h over the hill, you just end up waiting a commensurate amount of time at the Dalrymple St. traffic lights. I see this every morning when I am in Canberra in my commute.

So yes, if you exceed the posted speed limit everywhere you should expect to wait at lights a lot.

Roadworks will wreak havoc with such careful design, of course.

bd84 9:15 pm 02 Dec 09

youami said :

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Okay, whether or not this is true (unlikely, I’ve seen far more shiny new LED signals go up than I have new incandescent signals), are you implying that the phasing design of signals in Canberra is limited by what’s available on the scrap pile?

If so… I don’t know what to say. Really I don’t…

Yes I am! But that is not the reason for my rant. I have seen a lot of new LED lights going up so accept ACT buy them new, but they usually only replace the overhang ones, and yes I have also seen some intersections where the whole lot have been replaced with LED. But an example of an intersection where incandescant lights have been replaced with ‘pre-owned’ incandescant lights, Kings Av and State Circle. They also removed the ability to turn right on green without an arrow to a one-direction only with arrow.

JC said :

We do not use secondhand signals and never have. Just because they look the same as somewhere else doesn’t mean we have brought them second hand. Also if you look around you will see heaps of shiny new LED signals in Canberra too.

As for your original whinge sure there are places where it would be great to be able to turn at any time, but the argument used as to why we have the arrows seems quite sensible. We are very fortunate that our lights are demand responsive, so outside of peak ours the wait to turn is generally minimal.

Of course, I was being purely speculative re: second-hand, just doing my bit to stir the pot; but where did the Clunies Ross St lights come from? They were not new. But, anyway why do we as mature and responsibile drives need to wait outside of peak hours when discretion should prevail? How many accidents have really occured in ACT when vehicles cross traffic (ie. side-ons)? I bet not as often as head-ons or rear-enders. And as many have suggested already, it is not about speed or safety because intersections at 60km or 70km or 80km have red arrows. Intersections that cross one lane or two lanes or three lanes have red arrows. It is the non-standard standard! And you are right in that the wait is “generally” minimal because some intersections (especially around Parkes and Cotter Rd as mentioned by GnT) are phased at 11pm the same as peak hour.

But driver discretion works in other cities around the world – even cities that actually have traffic! Maybe driver education is the answer. Shame that we are all forced not to think for ourselves. As an ex-NSW Sydney driver I shudder to think about the poor ACT drivers and why they get a bad wrap when they travel interstate… “OMG, there is no arrow, what do I do!”

Is anyone nerdy enough to know any stats on the ratio of traffic signals to vehicles to population? I am sure it has to be higher than interstate.

How many accidents caused by not giving way? Lots. They don’t go putting up the traffic lights just for the fun of it, unless your the moron who put the lights up on Lady Denman Dr for cyclists to cross instead of them waiting for 30 seconds for cars to pass by. The ones further on at the off ramp of Parkes Way were put up for all the rear enders and for the t-bones at that intersection. Yes I think a lot of traffic lights could be modified phasing in non-peak hours or turned off (flashing orange) late at night. But given the Government can’t even co-ordinate sets of lights, not much chance of that happening anytime soon.

youami 1:21 pm 02 Dec 09

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Okay, whether or not this is true (unlikely, I’ve seen far more shiny new LED signals go up than I have new incandescent signals), are you implying that the phasing design of signals in Canberra is limited by what’s available on the scrap pile?

If so… I don’t know what to say. Really I don’t…

Yes I am! But that is not the reason for my rant. I have seen a lot of new LED lights going up so accept ACT buy them new, but they usually only replace the overhang ones, and yes I have also seen some intersections where the whole lot have been replaced with LED. But an example of an intersection where incandescant lights have been replaced with ‘pre-owned’ incandescant lights, Kings Av and State Circle. They also removed the ability to turn right on green without an arrow to a one-direction only with arrow.

JC said :

We do not use secondhand signals and never have. Just because they look the same as somewhere else doesn’t mean we have brought them second hand. Also if you look around you will see heaps of shiny new LED signals in Canberra too.

As for your original whinge sure there are places where it would be great to be able to turn at any time, but the argument used as to why we have the arrows seems quite sensible. We are very fortunate that our lights are demand responsive, so outside of peak ours the wait to turn is generally minimal.

Of course, I was being purely speculative re: second-hand, just doing my bit to stir the pot; but where did the Clunies Ross St lights come from? They were not new. But, anyway why do we as mature and responsibile drives need to wait outside of peak hours when discretion should prevail? How many accidents have really occured in ACT when vehicles cross traffic (ie. side-ons)? I bet not as often as head-ons or rear-enders. And as many have suggested already, it is not about speed or safety because intersections at 60km or 70km or 80km have red arrows. Intersections that cross one lane or two lanes or three lanes have red arrows. It is the non-standard standard! And you are right in that the wait is “generally” minimal because some intersections (especially around Parkes and Cotter Rd as mentioned by GnT) are phased at 11pm the same as peak hour.

But driver discretion works in other cities around the world – even cities that actually have traffic! Maybe driver education is the answer. Shame that we are all forced not to think for ourselves. As an ex-NSW Sydney driver I shudder to think about the poor ACT drivers and why they get a bad wrap when they travel interstate… “OMG, there is no arrow, what do I do!”

Is anyone nerdy enough to know any stats on the ratio of traffic signals to vehicles to population? I am sure it has to be higher than interstate.

spinact 9:10 am 02 Dec 09

Postalgeek said :

I don’t have a problem with red arrows for right turns. What I would like to see more of is turn-left-anytime-with-care stop signs and/or slip lanes. I have no idea why, for example, they don’t allow vehicles to turn left with care off Hindmarsh Drive onto Darymple St.

Funny you should ask that because once upon a time there was a turn left with care sign at that intersection. Then one day years back, a window washer set up operations at the intersection and within days the sign had disappeared thus insuring that even people turning onto Darymple had to stop on a red signal.

GnT 8:06 am 02 Dec 09

Mordd, the issue is NOT traffic, or congestion. The issues with red arrows (ie, waiting to turn even though no-one is coming the other way) occur precisely because there is such little traffic – if there was lots of traffic of course we wouldn’t have a problem waiting for a green arrow over waiting for a gap.

If the lights truly are “demand responsive” then outside of peak hours the arrows should be switched off entirely and the resposibility to find a safe gap in traffic given to the driver.

If driving skills in Canberra are so poor that we can’t be trusted to turn safely when there are next to no cars on the road, then we have a lot more problems. I don’t believe it.

Mordd 8:29 pm 01 Dec 09

In my opinion the major problem is the fact that the majority of drivers dont understand how traffic flows in general work, more specifically that a slightly slower maximum speed nearly always results in smoother flowing traffic, ie: less stop starts. Examples are some of the 80km’h roads we have that many canberrans would prefer to be 100kmh limit, and that you will frequently find motorists speeding on regardless because they are so used to good roads they feel they know better and can ignore the designated speed limits. Maybe the OP in this article has a point, maybe they don’t, but canberrans are extremely over-priveledged when it comes to roads here already, compared to sitting in traffic on parramatta road for hours on end each day in Sydney for example, drivers here have nothing to complain about really.

Fact is if you want to ease congestion in this city the #1 best way to do that would be Transit lanes across all of the major multi-lane roads in this city. Catch the bus from any major interchange to another in morning or evening peak times, and count the number of cars that only have 1 person in them compared to 2 people or more, you will be hard pressed to spot even 1 out of every 5 cars with more than 1 person in it. Introduce even T2 transit lanes (buses, taxis, 2 or more people in car) and it would be a great start, even better would be to make it T3 only and then have the local government help organise car pooling like you have in places like Canada for example. This would have a much larger impact on traffic, especially during the most congested times, more than any other measures that could be taken, apart from drastically boosting public transport, which should also be done.

Thumper 8:09 pm 01 Dec 09

Slowing trip times might encourage more people to seek alternatives like cycling or public transport, or even just altering their work hours to avoid the rush. I believe this is the Government’s approach, but they’d never admit to that in a pink fit.

Social engineering is reprehensible. Let people make their own decisions, after all, if governments keep making decisions for the people soon enough the people won’t have the capacity to make their own decisions. Actually, that’s already happening…

And now I’ll have another scotch…

bd84 8:05 pm 01 Dec 09

sloppery said :

Turning right across traffic without a green arrow wouldn’t be a problem if the standard of driver skills were actually improved.

Absolutely correct. The number one reason why we see the increase in signalised right hand turns is that people never understand the concept of “give way” or get frustrated waiting and pull out in front of oncoming trafic causing an accident. As the number of accidents at the intersections with no signals increases, the database at Roads ACT goes crazy and to prevent most morons causing accidents, they put up traffic lights or turning signals. This action causes the accident count at that intersection to decrease.

Apparently they can’t legislate agaist idiots on our roads, so until then you get signalised turning signals.

Anna Key 7:08 pm 01 Dec 09

Agree with the OP. Most Canberra roads are empty after dark. And yes, it isn’t much time in the grand scheme of things. But it is a waste of petrol idling for 30 secs and then accelerating from a stop. Plus the (only) car that is coming in the other direction that also now has to stop. I don’t think it would be a good idea at major intersections eg Hindmarsh and Yamba, surely it is ok at smaller intersections. But surely if you can’t safely turn right on a near empty intersection, you would also have problems on many other normal driving situations.

tidalik 7:06 pm 01 Dec 09

Nice rant.

The problem is we are now addicted to these right turn arrows and wouldn’t be able to get rid of them without a lot of accidents. Can you imagine Canberra drivers actually giving way to pedestrians when turning right, for example?

AndyC 6:51 pm 01 Dec 09

Traffic light synchronisation isn’t done by any secondhand equipment. Roads ACT actually use the same system as Sydney, which I am led to believe is the most popular if not the only traffic synchronisation system in the southern hemisphere. The system was in part developed by Sydney RTA and is known as SCATS. If you are curious a quick Google will dig up more information, or you can take a look at: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/trafficreports/scats/index.html or http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/australia_innovates/?behaviour=view_article&Section_id=1080&article_id=10087

My theory on why it doesn’t work as well in Canberra as other areas if that was have many less lights and it doesn’t scale downwards well. But that is just my theory…

georgesgenitals 6:31 pm 01 Dec 09

niftydog said :

sloppery said :

Continually forcing traffic to move more slowly is not solving the problem of ever increasing traffic congestion.

Slowing trip times might encourage more people to seek alternatives like cycling or public transport, or even just altering their work hours to avoid the rush. I believe this is the Government’s approach, but they’d never admit to that in a pink fit.

I hear your point, but for like me who car pool with family, it’s not very helpful.

JC 6:21 pm 01 Dec 09

We do not use secondhand signals and never have. Just because they look the same as somewhere else doesn’t mean we have brought them second hand. Also if you look around you will see heaps of shiny new LED signals in Canberra too.

As for your original whinge sure there are places where it would be great to be able to turn at any time, but the argument used as to why we have the arrows seems quite sensible. We are very fortunate that our lights are demand responsive, so outside of peak ours the wait to turn is generally minimal.

niftydog 5:06 pm 01 Dec 09

sloppery said :

Continually forcing traffic to move more slowly is not solving the problem of ever increasing traffic congestion.

Slowing trip times might encourage more people to seek alternatives like cycling or public transport, or even just altering their work hours to avoid the rush. I believe this is the Government’s approach, but they’d never admit to that in a pink fit.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
the-riotact.com | aboutregional.com.au | b2bmagazine.com.au | thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site