For pedestrians with reduced mobility, crossing at traffic lights is not always so easy. The lights can turn red before they have reached the other side, putting them in danger. The Dutch city of Tilburg decided to address this.
Since April, a new app has been tested that alters crossing times at traffic lights based on the mobility needs of pedestrians. A sensor in the lights scans pavements on either side of junctions. If it detects somebody waiting when the button is pressed, then the time for which the green light is illuminated is adjusted according to the user's level of mobility.
The app, called Crosswalk, comes pre-installed with one of four time settings to cater for different mobility needs. It works in tandem with GPS and the software that operates the traffic lights, removing the need for other devices.
10 Tilberg residents are tasked with trialling Crosswalk. One of these, Noud Rommen, commented that “I can only get to the island halfway across before it turns red, so I have to wait again. When it works it’s excellent. There are a lot of older people in my block. This means they can cross safely".
The app's developer, Dynniq, is devising alternative versions for cyclists and visually impaired pedestrians.
The smart traffic light project forms part of a 25-year plan to make Tilburg’s road network more pedestrian and cycle-friendly. “We want to...use technology rather than just putting down more asphalt,” says Mark Clijsen, urban planning specialist at the city council.
The pilot is due to be assessed in the autumn, and if successful, Clijsen estimates that traffic lights in the city could be converted at a rate of around one every two weeks.
For more information, visit theguardian.com (in English).