The saga of the 42 traffic lights junction in Beverley …

The Times, August 31 2015, Alexi Mostrous

Traffic lights make drivers see red
Residents in a picturesque Yorkshire town have complained after 42 sets of traffic lights were installed on a single junction.

Vehicles have to navigate the lights as they pass through the new Grovehill junction in Beverley, east Yorkshire, a town voted one of the best places in Britain to live.

The new junction in Beverley, which has 42 sets of traffic lights. It was previously a roundabout.

The lights, which were introduced as part of a £22 million renovation, have “lit up” the crossing like “Hull fair”, according to Howard Tomlinson, 72, of the Grovehill Action Group.

“The main concern is the layout and complexity of the junction,” he said. “It’s like something you would see coming off a motorway. It’s like Spaghetti Junction. There are about ten sets of lights all close together and it requires drivers to be very alert.

“People don’t know where to look, drivers are looking at nearby green lights thinking they can go when in actual fact their light is on red. [The council] said it would take some months for it to bed in, but they don’t appear to be observing what is happening.”

Steven Smart, 50, a painter, said: “The lights look like a fairground – I avoid it like the plague. It’s a total waste of money. Things were absolutely fine at the roundabout beforehand. If it’s not broke don’t try and fix it.”

A spokesman for East Riding council, which implemented the changes, said: “As there will be more traffic using this junction, the old roundabout has been replaced with a junction controlled by traffic signals to control the traffic flow better at this location. We ask for motorists’ and pedestrians’ continued patience.”

Beverley was named as one of the best places to live in the UK by The Sunday Times last year. The town is renowned for its 13th-century minster, and a Yorkshire tourist website boasts that its medieval skyline remains “refreshingly unspoilt”.

The Times, October 9 2015, Faisal Hanif

When all 42 sets of traffic lights went out at a notoriously chaotic road junction, there were fears that it could lead to a real-life version of dodgems.

However, motorists using the Grovehill junction in Beverley, near Hull, reported that the flow of traffic was better than usual — and they want the lights to be switched off permanently.

The junction had been nicknamed “the red-light district” by Bild, the German daily newspaper, and a crew from a Munich television station, Pro-Sieben, came to film it last month. One resident wrote to the local paper this week saying: “This international laughing stock is a disgrace.”

Peter Robinson, 78, said it had been a nightmare since the traffic lights were installed in February.

Another resident, Terry Fawcett, of the Grovehill Area action group, said: “We had a perfectly good roundabout before, without the need for any lights.”

However, residents said that the failure of the lights had led to an improvement and demanded that they be abandoned. East Riding of Yorkshire Council said it would monitor the junction.

The Times, October 9 2015, Martin Cassini

When 42 traffic lights failed at a junction in Beverley this week, the biggest surprise was that anyone was surprised that traffic suddenly flowed better.

We are supposed to accept traffic controls without question. But who is the better judge of when to go, or indeed what speed to go at: you and me at a particular time and place, or lights and limits fixed by absent regulators? When traffic lights are out of order, we are urged to exercise caution — which we do instinctively — implying that when lights are working, we can revert to norms of neglect.

Jump a cashpoint queue and you’d cause a riot, so why can’t we act sociably on the road? Because the rules prevent us. There is no more delinquent basis for road-user relationships than the rule of green- light priority. “Get out of my way!” it suggests. Drivers are given no chance to co-operate.

By contrast the motorists of Beverley, liberated from traffic lights, are saying “after you” instead. Their new-found equality encourages them to think of others and delivers them from antisocial traffic regulation.

Why do we actually need traffic lights? To break the priority streams of traffic so that others can cross. Instead of removing that way of thinking, therefore removing the need for lights, the clowns running our roads impose controls that cost lives and cost the earth to install and run.

Traffic officers want us to think we need their interventions, but the latest safety audit from Westminster City Council showed that 44 per cent of personal injury accidents occurred at traffic lights. How many of the remainder were because of the traffic lights themselves? The statistics don’t tell us.

The surprise — indeed scandal — is that traffic authorities are free to build their empires at public expense and, despite evidence, continue to resist reform. In 2009 I instigated a lights-off trial in Portishead, Somerset, which went permanent after journey times fell by more than half with no loss of safety. A deregulated low-speed environment in Poynton, Cheshire, was opened in 2013. It transformed the town.

Every year, there are 25,000 road deaths and injuries. The traffic control industry, with its vested interests, should not continue to escape scrutiny.

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