Cycling in Sydney Australia
So the City has installed bicycle lanterns at the Wilson St / Mary St / Erskineville Rd intersection. That's good - now there's a legal way for bikes to proceed west onto King St.
However there's a problem: bikes only get half as many opportunities to cross as the cars coming in the opposite direction (even if you're sitting on the grid, one phase comes and goes with no green light). Worse, the timing is such that when you get a green bicycle lantern, the subsequent light to turn left onto King St is turning red.
This route is now really sloooow. It often takes five minutes to travel about 100m through these two traffic lights.
Would anyone like to join me in asking someone to change the phasing? As far as I can tell the place to do it is here: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=feedback.form
Feel free to copy:
I write regarding the recently installed bicycle lanterns at the intersection of Wilson St and Mary St, Newtown. The phasing of these lights is currently set up so that bicycles travelling west only have half as many opportunities to cross as traffic travelling east. Furthermore, when the bicycle lantern does turn green, the light at the subsequent intersection (Wilson St and King St) is turning red. This means it often takes 5 minutes to travel about 100m through these lights.
Please change the phasing so that bicycles are given right-of-way to proceed straight (west) ahead of cars turning onto Erskineville Rd during both portions of the phase.
This was always going to happen.
The first day it was installed there were about 15 cyclists backed up waiting patiently. Since then I've not seen a single cyclist waiting for these lights.
They also installed a "no right turn from bicycle lane" for some reason. Mary St is about the only way to cross King St and start heading towards Annandale, so annoying.
remove or paint over the sign eh
happy that people are ignoring the red, that builds a safety case for fixing the lights.
RMS making cyclists wait for every second phase, taking 5x as long any other traffic type to clear an intersection. I'm completely suprised, no really I am.
Where have I seen that before.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIpXoUOz3ts (warning its a waiting video - its dull).
Pretty much any intersection they build now really.
With the current poor phasing of these lights all that has been created is a whole load of non-compliance. Sure, it is now safer if you wait for your green but knowing that your green could be a long time coming because of a deliberately poor phasing means that crossing on the red seems like a reasonable thing to do.
I don't want to start a debate about running red lights but, when this is the type of shitty infrastructure we have to deal with what do the council expect?
RMS/RTA control lights. Whether Council beg hard enough is another matter.
Get off your bike and walk over. Then it's only jaywalking. And that's ok.
I received a reply, see below:
Thank you for your email regarding the cycle facility at the intersection of King Street and Wilson Street, Erskineville (TCS 668).
The cycleways in the local government area of the City of Sydney are fully funded and designed by Council. Where cycleways are required to integrate with traffic signals, RMS provides input, in order to provide the safest and most efficient outcome for all road users, including public transport, cyclists and pedestrians.
The road network surrounding this intersection is extremely complex and operates beyond its capacity throughout most of the day. It is the highest priority for RMS to maximise the throughput of people via public transport on the state road (King Street) whilst maintaining the highest level of safety to all road users.
The traffic signals at the intersections of King Street & Wilson Street (TCS 669) and Erskineville Road & Wilson Street (TCS 668) are finely linked and configured to prevent unmanageable queuing from TCS 668 extending back to King Street (TCS 669) to the west and Erskineville Road to the south. Unfortunately, at traffic signals with single lane feeds and tight turning paths similar to TCS 668, the longer the phase is held for, the larger the gaps become in the waiting traffic, resulting in extremely inefficient operations and extensive queuing. To achieve the optimum operating conditions and to reduce the queue length, the site is configured to "Double Cycle". Doubling cycling allows each phase to be introduced twice in one cycle. In doing this, the site allows us to bunch, and push through the intersection smaller platoons of traffic more frequently.
Prior to the addition of the cycle phase the site operated 2 double cycled phases, this effectively allowed each phase to be introduced twice every 2 minutes, or 4 phases every 2 minutes. The addition of the cycle phase created a 5 phase arrangement, therefore the only change to the phasing, has been the introduction of the cycle phase. This results in vehicles and pedestrians getting 2 phases per cycle, whilst the cyclists only get 1 phase per cycle. Again, the only change to the signals has been the inclusion of the cycle phase. This required time to be taken away from the existing 4 phases that were previously allocated to vehicles and pedestrians only.
In terms of delays, at a cycle time of 70 seconds cyclists will have a max wait time of 1:10 seconds, whilst at a cycle time of 120 seconds the max wait time will be 2 minutes. These wait times are the maximum and mid cycle times, obviously at lower cycle times the wait time will be lower. Notwithstanding this, the delay for cyclists is only 1 cycle. Should we remove the double cycle arrangement; the delays will still be as stated above. Should we include the cycle phase into the double cycle operation, it would require a complete re-phrasing of the site to become a 6 phase operation. This has been investigated and can not be accommodated in the current cycle time due to pedestrian and safety related clearance times. The only option would then be to reduce the site to 3 phases, resulting in a cyclist delay of 1 cycle. Under this operation the cycle delay still remains 1 cycle.
The issue you raised was not unforseen, and detailed information on the operation of the cycleway, including the phasing arrangement, was provided to council during the design stage of the Wilson Street cycleway. Council accepted the operational parameters of these traffic signals and Council funded and completed the associated upgrades to the signals.
I trust this helps explain the unusual operation of the cycleway at this site. Should you have any further inquires about the design of the cycleway through this area, please contact City of Sydney council, alternatively if you have any further questions on the operational parameters of this site, I can be contacted on the number below.
I've read this twice. Could someone paraphrase so I understand? Otherwise I just read it as 'cars'amenity is more important than bikes' at this intersection'.
Ha, they may as well have sent code that the traffic lights run off, not exactly plain English.
The cycle delay is something that is under their control. ie the statement that "The cycle delay would remain 1 cycle" is quite disengenious, as that cycle delay is a length that they choose it to be. ie if the intersection was set up as 3 phases, the cyclist on average would still have the least possession of the intersection and the longest delay, because the cyclist phase is the shortest phase of the intersection, so on average a cyclist would still be more likely to face a red on arrival than any other user type. We would have to ask whether or not the double phasing was completed as a prior upgrade ready for the cycleway too, ie why do that, as without the cycleway it is operationally identical to a single phased intersection with a shorter cycle time.
There is another reality, in that their double phasing causes significant disobedience of the red signal by cyclists, because it makes the intersection appear broken to anyone that is not a traffic engineer, which IMO would be statistically worse (ie signal disobedience is the largest cause of safety issues), than any other configuration.
ie both disengenious and containing something the author is likely to be aware is not true (ie it can't possibly be the highest safety standard if ithe design is know to cause signal disobedience).
I go through that intersection once or twice a week and had picked up from somewhere that I had to wait 2 phases most times. While annoying, it's not that long. But the temptation is definitely to jump the lights. Except it's not that easy or safe to do that in peak times because of the complex layout.
I hadn't realised until I read this explanation that there's a link with the 2 sets of lights on King Street. I can see why they don't want cars banking up in either of those places. And if they don't keep the big intersection clear, then cars will get in the way of buses on King Street.
They are describing a real problem in traffic management. Admittedly one caused by cars not buses.
But it does penalise bikes exiting the contraflow lane that have a problem. Not sure what the solution is though so will welcome any ideas.