Council on the button with crossing times

PEDESTRIAN PLEASER: Traffic engineer Eddie Cook with his new invention – about to be implemented in Invercargill – that reduces or increases  time to cross the road with a press of the button.
PEDESTRIAN PLEASER: Traffic engineer Eddie Cook with his new invention – about to be implemented in Invercargill – that reduces or increases time to cross the road with a press of the button.

The green man is about to get a hurry-up.

The Invercargill City Council is looking to change the crossing times at intersections after one staff member came up with a clever idea to save time and money.

Council senior traffic management officer Eddie Cook completed his masters in pedestrian habits at traffic signals last year, coming to a conclusion that is about to benefit Invercargill residents.

Cook concluded from his masters that pedestrian crossing signals could be shortened to save time, money and fuel.

He spent four years working on the project, but his time and effort paid off, with the council looking to adopt and apply one of his research conclusions to crossings in the city.

"It's quite good for Invercargill as this will be the first time something like this will be used in the world. No-one else is doing the old button thing."

The system works by shortening the time after the green man, when the red man flashes, by three seconds for able-bodied people, he said.

But those who needed extra time at the crossings would be allowed it by holding in the button, which would increase the crossing time length.

Based on a transport model, Cook estimated one crossing could save Invercargill residents thousands of dollars through the use of less fuel, less time and less pollution.

The idea is likely to be applied to three crossings in Invercargill initially, before possibly expanding to all of Invercargill.

The trial would run from August at the crossing between The Warehouse and Farmers, the Gala St and Queens Drive intersection and the St Andrew St and Queens Drive intersection, he said.

"The cost is estimated at $8000 with anticipated vehicle delay [reductions] providing benefits of $42,000 annually."

But the new scheme would mean the sound of the pedestrian crossing would not be triggered during the fast crossings, meaning it was important for people who had limited sight to hold the button in, which would trigger the sound and give them the extra time to cross.

Anyone in doubt should always hold the button in to ensure they had extra time to cross, Cook said.

The Southland Times