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Pelican crossings may have improved the safety of pedestrians crossing busy roads, but fixed “cross” signal times means that busy crossings are often congested with people, even when the traffic lights have changed to green.

However, new computerised crossings developed by the Transport Research Laboratory may soon solve this dilemma by monitoring the number of people waiting at a crossing and adjusting traffic light sequencing accordingly.

For pedestrians, that means pelican crossings will offer longer times to cross when lots of people are waiting — and motorists won’t be held up for so long when only one or two people are crossing.

Transport for London is reportedly already interested in the idea — perhaps unsurprisingly, given the volume of foot and motor vehicle traffic in Central London.

The system is apparently already on junctions around Victoria Station and another 50 local authorities are reckoned to be rolling it out this year.

Cyclists should also be well-served by the new system, since the Transport Research Laboratory is also planning to offer prioritised and/or favourable traffic light sequencing — perhaps by detecting their approach and maintaining the green signal so that they can ride through without stopping.

Such a system is already used for cars in some cities, as a way to reduce the increased emissions that arises from stop-start traffic when there’s a consecutive series of junctions.

[via Auto Express]