People crossing Jamaica Road by the Rotherhithe roundabout by foot and on bikes should have to wait less long, with Transport for London (TfL) set to introduce an automatic light system.
The crossing just outside the north-eastern corner of Southwark Park is notorious for long waiting times for pedestrians, compounded by cars often being still because of traffic on Lower Road and at the Rotherhithe tunnel.
TfL has installed a system at the traffic lights that automatically works out when to change the lights based on real-time demand, as part of the Cycleway 4 works. The pandemic delayed the system being installed, but it should now be up and running by the autumn.
The news comes after a local resident raised the road crossing issue with Liberal Democrat councillor Jane Salmon. They added: “As a pedestrian and cyclist it’s particularly annoying as car traffic on the roundabout frequently isn’t moving due to congestion from the tunnel, or is extremely light during the rest of the day.
“Yet despite the fact there’s little actually moving car traffic (there’s plenty of cars not moving), the lights still force cycles and pedestrians to wait very long times and then only provide a short period of time for cycles and pedestrians to actually cross. During the wait time, you’re normally staring at stationary cars, or completely empty road.
“The wait times are so long that many cycles opt to avoid the cycle path, and instead use the bus lane on Jamaica road, so they can turn left on the roundabout without stopping. Pedestrians also frequently ignore the lights, because there’s so little traffic, and during congested periods stationary cars are easy to avoid.”
TfL said that they had already made two changes to the lights at the Rotherhithe roundabout crossing over the past year to cut waiting times for pedestrians and cyclists. The transport agency said they would consider making further changes once the new automatic system is working.
It comes as the government gives TfL and boroughs like Southwark more power to fine drivers who drive in cycle lanes, or cross the solid white lines – in the same way as authorities can penalise people who drive in bus lanes and yellow box junctions.