Frederick St lights give just 6 seconds to cross

When it is safe, go straight across the road and do not run – so says the Green Cross Code.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 6th January 2015, 11:45 am

But pedestrians have no choice but to break their stride when crossing one of the city centre’s busiest junctions.

Just six seconds are given to those crossing Frederick Street at Princes Street.

It means those on foot must cover two metres per second to make it safely to the other side – and those who miss their chance face a 90-second wait for another green man.

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Pedestrian rights group Living Streets Scotland said Frederick Street had one of the shortest crossing times of any junction in Edinburgh – and fear it’s a safety hazard.

Stuart Hay, director of Living Streets Scotland, said: “It is very surprising that one of the busiest junctions in the Capital has one of the shortest 
crossing times. It is also very disappointing that the council’s vaunted pedestrian-friendly policies are clearly failing given the challenges of walking down the city’s principal street. An urgent review is needed.”

Mr Hay pointed to a recent study at University College London, which claimed the six-second limit is simply unachievable for most over-65s.

“The time allowed to cross at Frederick Street is based on the flawed assumption of a walking speed which is unachievable for the majority of older people, those with disabilities, sight impairment or even if you have small children,” he said.

“Furthermore, this set of lights isn’t set up to allow high numbers of pedestrians to cross safely, and instead prioritises cars, buses and taxis.”

Pedestrians say crossing the street has turned into a “game of chance”, claiming there are near-misses every day.

Patrick Donnelly a 48-year-old engineer from the West End, said buses often sounded their horns as they approached as drivers expected to encounter stragglers.

He said: “The green man only flashes for a few seconds – so unless you want to wait, you’ve just got to chance it. You see a lot of near-misses and it’s really quite scary. It’s like a game of chance.”

In November, the News told how covering a 100-metre stretch of Princes Street took up to six minutes due to delays at pedestrian crossings.

David Spaven, of Deltix Transport Consulting, said a review was necessary.

He said: “Official guidance states you shouldn’t have to wait for more than 30 seconds. If you’ve got people waiting for more than 30 seconds, research suggests that is when they start to get impatient and decide to cross the street anyway.

City transport chief Councillor Lesley Hinds said that the issue would be looked at.

She said: “The issue of pedestrian waits at Frederick Street is something that’s been brought to my attention, and it’s something that we plan on revisiting.

“Frederick Street is quite a busy junction, especially because we’ve taken a number of bus services off Princes Street. That was something the public said they wanted to see.

“It becomes a matter of how do you find that balance where you’re giving due consideration to pedestrians and traffic?”.

A council spokesman added: “Crossing times have not been changed at the junction with the green man inviting pedestrians to cross the road followed by additional crossing time before the red man is lit.

“We will continue 
monitoring and refining the signalling system to reduce overall delays and improve the pedestrian experience.”