Roads Service defends new lights

ROADS Service has defended its new traffic light systems at puffin crossings through the town, following claims they are unsafe.

Since the Leader’s story last week voicing the concerns of a mum-of-two over the new positioning of the green man signal at the crossings, a number of other residents and parents have been in touch to complain about the new system.

One mother said her son was almost knocked over on his way to school one day but she was luckily able to grab him in time.

“It’s a stupid idea,” she said. “He doesn’t know where to look but with the last lights he was fine.”

The green signal is now positioned at waist level on the console beside which pedestrians stand as they wait to cross the road. Many people have contacted us to say the former location above head level on the other side of the road was safer and more visible to all those waiting to cross the road.

A spokesman for Roads Service explained that the new lights are part of an “upgrade” scheme.

“The upgrade will monitor sites where larger numbers of pedestrians frequently cross at one time with a view to installing high level repeater light units if they are required,” said the spokesman.

“The new Puffin crossings, which are being rolled out across Northern Ireland, offer pedestrians a number of benefits. Importantly, they can detect when pedestrians are slow to cross, or when there are large numbers crossing, and will extend the crossing time. While pedestrians are on the Puffin crossing, sensors will keep the lights on red for vehicles. This helps to reduce the distress pedestrians can feel during the flashing amber stage on a Pelican crossing.”

But locals have expressed their concern at the new systems, saying they are confusing.

“I’ve seen pensioners and children who don’t have a clue when to cross the road because they’re not sure where they are meant to look for the signal,” said one man. “Some of them don’t give you that much time to cross the road either.”

Other said the design is “ill thought-out” and a waste of money which could be used in better ways.

DRD said the new lights might take time to become familiar.

“In general terms, the positioning of the red and green figures beside pedestrians wishing to cross is a feature of the new Puffin crossings,” said the spokesman.

“It may be the case that, for some, these crossings will take time to get used to. The location of the pedestrian display units means that people can see the red or green figures and watch oncoming traffic at the same time, which is more safe. The units also make them considerably easier for those with a visual impairment than if the signal was on the far side of the road.”