London tests pedestrian sensors to make crossing streets safer

Wed, 2014-03-19 06:00 -- Doug Cooley

Why did the Londoners cross the road?

Because new state-of-the-art video camera technology, seeing that a large crowd was waiting at the street corner, automatically adjusted the traffic signal timings to extend the pedestrian crossing period.  

Transport for London (TfL), the agency that manages transport services across London, has announced that this summer it will start testing a system that uses "intelligent" pedestrian crossing sensors to help make it easier and safer for people to cross roads throughout the city. The test is part of a program to reduce by 40 percent the number of people killed and seriously injured on London's streets by the year 2020.

The technology introduced by TfL is called Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimization Technique, or “pedestrian SCOOT.” It is the first of its kind in the world and uses state-of-the-art video camera technology to detect how many pedestrians are waiting at crossings. The system automatically adjusts the traffic signal timings to extend the signal for pedestrians to cross the road when it detects that large numbers of people are waiting to cross.

In addition, TfL is developing a “call cancel” technology that can detect when a pedestrian who has pushed the crossing button has either crossed before the signal goes green or walks away. When that happens, the system then cancels the pedestrian crossing phase.