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Cambridge set for "traffic light revolution"

Published: Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Work is underway to review every traffic light in Cambridge to develop the “smartest traffic light system in the UK”.


The Greater Cambridge Partnership has agreed to fund a study of the city’s 184 traffic signals to identify what improvements could make traffic flow more efficiently.


It’s part of wider plans to make it easier to travel in the city by public transport, cycle or on foot and to ease peak-time gridlock.


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.”


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


The Greater Cambridge Partnership is also exploring using new and digital technology to make travel easier and reduce congestion through its Smart Cambridge programme, including intelligent mobility and smart signalling.


Chair of the Executive Board Cllr Francis Burkitt said: “"Last week, a Bottisham resident, Richard Moseley, had a letter published in the Cambridge News calling for all traffic lights to be modernised with transponders 'so that, when a bus approaches, they automatically change to green and so the bus can go through, perhaps even without slowing down'.   I'm delighted to be able to tell Mr Moseley 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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