Should we get rid of loads of traffic lights?

traffic jam The roads of the UK can be tediously slow at times. Ever wondered what it'd be like if someone got rid of all those obstacles, so you could crack on with what you need to do?

Well, according to one think-tank, what we need to do is get rid of 80% of all traffic lights... and no, it wouldn't be dangerous, they reckon. Of course, the roads would be unjammed too, which drivers would enjoy, no doubt.

The Institute for Economic Affairs wrote a report which stated that the 40% rise in traffic lights in 20 years "made life a misery", so they've suggested shared spaces that have no lights... or railings... or bollards. Now, this hasn't been plucked out of thin air - a town in Germany and a town in Holland have done this, and a trial Portishead kicked out the jams.

Of course, this whole idea hinges on drivers respecting each other, or people trusting people not to take liberties on the road and spoil it for everyone.

Either way, Dr Richard Wellings, head of transport at the IEA, thinks this is all a marvellous idea. He said: "For too long policymakers have failed to make a cost-benefit analysis of a range of regulations – including traffic lights, speed cameras and bus lanes – making life a misery from drivers nationwide."

"It’s quite clear that traffic management has spread far beyond the locations where it might be justified, to the detriment of the economy, environment and road safety."

"The evidence of shared space schemes shows the transformational benefits of less regulated approach, whilst the removal of a high proportion of traffic lights would deliver substantial economic and social benefits."


  • Nic
    My local councils are intent on doing the opposite. In one town, there was a mini-roundabout that had been in place for decades without any major impact on the town. They replaced it with traffic lights and the place became gridlocked every rush hour. After a few years of blaming other factors, they experimented with putting the roundabout back in and mysteriously the traffic disappeared... They've just done the same near where I work - two roundabouts gone, two traffic light junctions in their place and again, misery every rush hour...
  • oldgit
    Nottingham City Council are experts in this area - they just 'improved' the junction near the ice stadium/Carlton Road and we now have twice as big queues as we did before - Well Done!
  • Monkeyhanger
    North Tyneside council and Newcastle City council are doing all they can to eliminate roundabouts and put in lots of traffic lights instead. They'very crippled the roads around Longbenton and Gosforth where the density of employment is amongst the highest in the North East. A five minute journey to Balliol Business Park from the Coast road has become a half hour job now to go 1.5 miles in rush hour. Genius traffic planning. No doubt in a few years someone will get a fat bonus for improving traffic when they change it back the way it was.
  • Shaz
    Monkeyhanger... I know that area well.. I travel from the A1/ Sandy lane - they added lights at the mini roundabout. now adding another rounadbout WITH light for the new estate and the one at qourum/baliol. They are also planning on putting lights on Sandy lane for the industrial estate. tailback galore

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