Cambridge launches traffic light revolution

Transport bosses in Cambridge are aiming for a ‘traffic light revolution’ to give the city the smartest traffic control system in the country.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership, the local delivery body for the Cambridge City Deal, has agreed to fund a study of the city’s 184 traffic signals to identify how traffic could be helped to flow more efficiently.

Changes could include bus prioritisation, enabling traffic signals to change to green when buses approach.

The Partnership said it is also exploring using new technology to reduce congestion through its Smart Cambridge programme, including intelligent mobility and smart signalling.

Interim transport director Chris Tunstall said: ‘While all traffic signals in Cambridge are able to detect vehicles and cyclists and around 40 are automated and use underground detectors to monitor and manage congestion, a full review of all traffic signals in the city will identify where existing sites need upgrading or refining.

‘We’ll have a full review with recommendations in the autumn but our aspiration is to develop the most efficient traffic light system in the UK, which offers selective priority and eases traffic flow at all times of the day. This will have the dual effect of improving journeys and also help to manage air pollution associated with idling engines.’

Cllr Francis Burkitt, chair of the Partnership’s executive Board, referred to a recent letter to a newspaper from a resident calling for all traffic lights to be modernised with transponders so that they would turn green when a bus approaches.

He said: ‘I’m delighted to be able to tell [him] that that’s exactly the sort of thing we want to look at.

‘The experts tell me that it’s not quite as simple as that, as it’s counterproductive (and adds to pollution) if you then create lots of stop-go-stop-go for all the other traffic.  So we need a proper investigation; we need to look at the best technologies currently available, and perhaps use some of our world-class Cambridge brains to develop new ones; and we need to see what other leading-edge cities do.

‘We want a traffic light revolution in Cambridge, and we want Cambridge to have the smartest traffic lights in the UK.’

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