High-Tech Junction on A38 Cycleway to Address Motorist Objections

Objections to the plans for the A38 cycleway at the junction with Priory Road have forced the Birmingham Cycle Revolution team to rethink the design. Motorists have complained that they pay road tax and therefore they have the right to turn in any direction they like, whilst cyclists and pedestrians (who do not pay road tax) should wait until the carriageway is clear of all motor traffic before using it. To address this issue, the city council will be installing at the Priory Road junction a set of high-tech internet-connected traffic lights.

Conventional crossings are operated by push buttons and by inductive loops embedded in the bitmac. Whilst these work just fine, they give the control electronics absolutely no idea which direction traffic will take. So for example, a pedestrian trying to cross the road on one arm of a crossing may have to wait for a car which is turning into a different arm of the junction. If the traffic light control system knew there would be no conflict between the two, it could give both the pedestrian and the car driver a green light, reducing delays. The system proposed for the Priory Road junction will have this capability.

When a junction user arrives at one of these high-tech junctions, an app on their smart phone will automatically display a layout of the junction. By tapping the arm of the junction they plan to exit from, the user will alert the traffic light controller via the internet as to their intention, and so the controller will be able to redirect the aspect control program to sequence the traffic lights for each user as they pass through the junction. It will also feed back to the smart phone the route that the user must take through the junction, so it can be displayed and spoken instructions given. Thus cyclists will be able to traverse the junction in any direction without delaying motor traffic, but it will require a few more light boxes than at a conventional light-controlled junction (as shown in the photo above of the first such junction in the UK, in London). This is felt to be worthwhile. Unfortunately the cost of the system will mean that the cycleway will have to be reduced in length, so only the section between Pavenham Drive and Dollery Drive will be built.

The Priory Road junction will be the first outside London to use the system, which is known as Aspect Program Redirection Internet Lights 1.0.