TfL announces world-first trials of “intelligent” pedestrian crossings

12.00 | 17 March 2014 | | 5 comments

TfL has outlined plans for trialling new pedestrian crossing sensors to help make it easier and safer for people to cross the road throughout the capital.

TfL says the introduction of Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique, or ‘pedestrian SCOOT’, is a world first.

The system’s video camera technology automatically detects how many pedestrians are waiting at a crossing. This enables traffic signal timings to be adjusted automatically to extend the green pedestrian invitation to cross phase when large numbers of people are waiting, allowing more people to cross the road.

In addition, TfL is developing ‘call cancel’ technology which can detect when a pedestrian who has pushed the crossing button has either crossed before the signal goes green or walks away, and therefore cancels the pedestrian crossing phase.

This latest initiative follows TfL’s successful development of pedestrian countdown technology, which tells pedestrians how long they still have left to cross the road once the green pedestrian phase has gone out.

Boris Johnson, mayor of London, said: “This really is a fantastic example of how London is leading the way by using 21st century technology to help make it easier for people to get around.

“Innovation like this is key to keeping London moving efficiently and making our roads safer for everyone to use.”

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport, said: “These new trials of pedestrian detection technology will allow our traffic signals to become even more intelligent, bringing huge benefits to those waiting to cross the road where there is heavy pedestrian demand.”

The first trials of pedestrian SCOOT will take place this summer on crossings outside Balham and Tooting Bec Underground stations.

Click here to read the full TfL news release.



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    I agree with Tony. It is clear to me that the use of image detection is an advance on the infra-red which only detects the presence of one or more people. The image detection will enable the system to “know” in advance of the green pedestrian phase the number of people waiting and therefore how long they may need to cross. This will enable the prediction of the length of the phase in advance which should improve Scoot efficiency. However, on crossing detection will still be needed as I doubt that the image detection could assess the walking speed of the pedestrians.

    Mark Caerphilly
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    Now that we have intelligent crossings, all we need is some intelligent pedesstrians to use them. I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of some people when it comes to crossing roads, and I doubt that these crossings will make much difference to that type of road user.

    David, Suffolk
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    Without getting to “techy” I can’t help but think the other two contributors have missed the detail of the press release.

    As I read it (and with a current responsibility for traffic signals) the system to be trialled is designed to complement and fit into the SCOOT system operated within TfL and many other local authorities.

    Further, as TfL don’t have that many “puffin” type crossings they would also seem to be trialling ways of extending crossing times within a “far sided” environment. There’s no suggestion that it would replace “puffins” elsewhere (although obviously anything learnt from the trials could feed back in to the operation of pedestrian signals nationally).

    tony, bristol
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    Are we now abandoning the detector system deployed on puffins which seem to adequately monitor pedestrian movement and hold the signals accordingly?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    I was surprised to find that even a ‘Third world’ country like Burma had countdown timers at the traffic lights when I visited there in 2002 and thought it would be a good idea to have them here. It didn’t seem to halt Jeremy Clarkson and crew when they went there last week though!

    The downside is that pedestrians may try and beat the clock and run across the road when the timer reaches zero without checking to see if the traffic has stopped first though. You can improve the intelligence of the crossings but as for the pedestrians…

    Joe – Sefton
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