So today I had some business in London and with an hour to spare before my train I decided to go for a walk. I found myself heading north on Regent St and trying to cross Great Marlborough St (GMS). The green man seemed to take quite a while and when it eventually came there was a great crowd of people streaming both ways over the crossing.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen that many cars turning into or out of GMS and with time to spare I decided to conduct a completely unscientific survey.

I took the following video from the opposite side of Regent St, we can see the pedestrian signals but not the traffic signals although it is quite obvious when they must change, I did not take account of time of day, weather, time of year, it’s just what I happened to observe at that one random moment I was there.

Our interest really begins at 7s, the pedestrian light has just turned red. I haven’t counted them but I would estimate that before the green man appears again approximately 80 people cross against a red man. Then at 1m57s when the green man reappears I estimate 200 people swarm across. Read that again, 7s and 1m57s, the traffic phase makes up 1m50s, the pedestrian phase just 13s. This means that on average each person must wait 55s and that 183 minutes of human existence are wasted for every cycle.

In that time 12 vehicles exit GMS, 0 turn left into it and 4 turn right into it a total of 16. With an assumed average occupancy of 1.4 that’s 22.4 people. Many of those vehicles appear to be taxis but there are some private cars there too. As I looked around the one thing that struck me about Regent St is that there were no drive-in or drive-thru stores, nobody spends money in Regent St from sitting in a car, it’s the pedestrians who spend the money yet their needs are put second to a few people travelling in cars.

I don’t know the local area that well and based solely on this video it would seem sensible to make GMS no entry from Regent St with a 30-40s phase for traffic exiting it. Perhaps anyone who knows the area better could comment below…


One thought on “iwalklondon

  1. In other countries, pedestrians can cross (have a green man) during traffic phases for traffic travelling in the same directions. Typically, the green man will show, then traffic travelling in the same direction(s) has a green light about 10 seconds later. Turning vehicles must give way to pedestrians. If there is heavy flow of turning vehicles, they generally have their own signal phase.

    IMO, a much better system for pedestrian traffic flow, and it does not slow vehicular traffic.

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