July 12, 2017

There's an App for that-Pedestrian Crossing Signal Intervals

An august group of planners in Sydney Australia, London England, Paris and Vancouver are looking at “intersection signal intervals” -how long it takes for the walk signal to activate after a pedestrian pushes the cross walk button. This group feels that the livability of a city and the quality of the walking environment can be measured on the length of time that pedestrians are given to walk across the street. It’s been fascinating to see how varied those interval times are in cities around the world.
As always, the Dutch are early adapters to  the changes in technology necessary to make walkability safer for all ages.  The Dutch city of Tilburg has been testing a smartphone application that allows seniors and those with restricted mobility more crossing time at intersections. The app has four time settings which are adjusted dependent on the user’s mobility to minimise traffic delay. While a sensor in the traffic lights scan the sidewalk adjacent to the intersection, it looks for a signal from the app to adjust crossing time.
As reported in The Guardian “Dynniq, the Dutch company that develops intelligent traffic systems and is helping the city council with the trial, explains the app works in combination with GPS and the software that operates the traffic lights, so there is no need to install extra devices. The company is also developing a spin-off for cyclists, the CrossCycle, which will sense when bikes are approaching a junction and change the lights sooner. Another version detects visually impaired pedestrians and activates the ticking sounds that tell them whether the light is red or green.”
While the app  can respond to individual users, the app can also adjust for a group of school children, so that the app will keep the crossing green for the children until a teacher confirms that they are safely across. While this initial pilot has only ten users, it is part of a pilot to enhance safety and comfort for pedestrians and cyclists. “We want to do more with smart mobility and use technology rather than just putting down more asphalt,” says Mark Clijsen, urban planning specialist at the city council.”

Posted in


If you love this region and have a view to its future please subscribe, donate, or become a Patron.

Share on


Leave a Reply to KyleCancel Reply

  1. Portable PUFFIN crossings. Amazing, and warranting a head-smacking ‘why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?’ response. The real artistry here is getting municipal agencies to allow a 3rd (and 4th) party application to ‘adjust’ their signal cycle phases.

  2. Certainly a great idea. i wish they could find a way to get the pedestrian light to go green faster is no or few vehicles are coming. It seems to me they’re on some sort of programming that will wait a certain amount of time if the pedestrian light was just pressed.

  3. Post
  4. This is such an underrated topic that it’s actually ignored in most cases. What better way to increase a neighbourhood’s walk score than to make it easier to cross the street on foot? It addresses the entire social spectrum, most especially our ageing Boomer population.
    There was a lengthy discussion recently on PT regarding the old saw of surface trams versus a subway on Broadway. My concern about the density of signalized pedestrian crossings dovetails with Sandy’s post and conflicts with the Pro comments about signal priority for transit vehicles. With crosswalks every 160 m, something’s gotta give. I don’t think it should be the inevitable slower elderly pedestrians trying to get across the street before the walk light changes and the tram bell dings.

  5. Who is involved with this from Sydney? This has been an issue I’ve been quite passionate about for a while and would be keen to learn more.

Welcome to VWPT

Big news! Price Tags has morphed into Viewpoint Vancouver — taking a fresh look at the history and future of our region. Subscribe now and join the conversation.

Join 7,122 other subscribers

Support VWPT

Make a one-time donation, or check our Patreon page for stylish coffee mugs, private city tours, and more. Thank you for helping shape this place we love.

Popular Articles

See All

All Articles

VWPT Podcast