Can Turning Off Traffic Lights Reduce Congestion?

London_traffic The city of London is about to embark upon an experiment: It will try to ease congestion issues by turning off traffic lights and letting drivers fend for themselves.

The Westminster City Council, in conjunction with the organization Transport for London, will shut off the traffic lights at a Westminster intersection for a two-week period. It will use closed-circuit cameras and license-plate recognition technology to monitor the response of traffic.

Sure, it sounds nuts, but towns in Holland, Denmark and Belgium all have had what they call “naked streets” for years now. The idea is that when you remove the crutch of traffic signals, drivers tend to be more alert, courteous and safe in their maneuvers. For instance, the town of Drachten, Holland, saw accidents at one intersection fall from 36 over a four-year period to just two in the two years since the lights were removed.

London, however, will be the first major city to attempt a naked street. The city could turn off up to 20% of its 400-plus traffic lights if the experiment proves successful, according to London Mayor Boris Johnson.

What do you think? Would you feel safe driving in a city or town with streets free of traffic lights?

London Seeks to Reduce Congestion by Eliminating Traffic Lights (Wheels)

By Stephen Markley | September 3, 2009 | Comments (9)

Comments 

David

If they have Round-abouts still then yes..although American drivers need to learn how to use a Round-about or Traffic Circle correctly. If they are just going to have intersections with no lights then is it going to be stop signs? I will be interested to see what happens.

Should be interesting and would love to have it here. Actually...New York drivers + no traffic lights = apocalypse.

UK Diesel Driver

Drachten is a small provincial town with no big roads running through it. Only a motorway and a trunk road along it's edges. It's claim to fame is that it has a factory that produces the Philishave shavers from Philips...

No way this will work in a city the size of London!

Hell no, I don't trust half the drivers out there WITH lights as it is. Complete and total chaos would ensue. However, there are lots of lights around the area that don't have sensors, and all the lights on the same street will sequentially turn red, even when there's no traffic from the side streets that they're designed for.

GR

The lights have sensors and computers, just make them smarter in determining a proper change pattern.

Mart

This part of Central London doesn't really have many roundabouts so i'll be interested to see how it works. I suspect carnage, especially on the side streets around there. However, seeing as I cycle through The City every day, the slower that cars move, the less chance I have of getting hit by them!

Mike

That may work in some little town in holland but in a big city like London, New York, etc, or even some small cities/towns anywhere in the world, with heavy traffic, it will be chaos & anarchy, it will slow down traffic, cuase bigger backups and more death & destruction.

Sounds like a terrible idea. It won't be long before we hear about all of the accidents this causes. Bad idea for the big cities...

Marc

BT

You people are all so closed minded. "It won't work" is exactly what the people of Portishead thought when they implemented a traffic-light shut off. They were pleasantly surprised when travel times were a third of what they normally were, and accidents were reduced.

Traffic lights are meant for intersections with all-day-long heavy traffic. They have been tragically abused, being put everywhere that people think they need "safer" intersections. We have used far too many traffic lights because we as a people don't understand their area of expertise.

You all need to use your brains more. Try it out - think before you speak. Maybe you'll like it

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