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City undertakes major project to alleviate traffic congestion in the CBD

Transport for Cape Town (TCT) is undertaking a major project to review and improve traffic signal timing at the 110 intersections in the city’s central business district (CBD). In addition, exclusive pedestrian signal control will be introduced to enhance pedestrian safety. 

The purpose of this R6,5 million project, to be implemented over the next eight months, is to reduce delays and to enhance the mobility of all road users in the CBD – from motorists to commuters travelling in the MyCiTi buses and pedestrians alike.
‘Efficient cities make mobility easier and safer, be it for people or goods. This project will further our commitment to building an efficient and well-run city where residents spend less time on our roads and where pedestrian safety is paramount,’ says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.
Periodic reviews of traffic signal timing are essential to maintaining an efficient road network. Recent changes to the road infrastructure in the CBD, as well as changing traffic patterns, have reduced the effectiveness of the current signal timing plan to the point where a major review is required. Once this project is completed, the CBD’s traffic signals will be synchronised in such a manner that road users will experience less of a delay at key junctions.
The signal timing plans at each of the 110 intersections will be reviewed and improved in accordance with current traffic patterns. All signals will be linked to a remote monitoring system, enabling improved fault detection and response by the City’s traffic signal technicians. Furthermore, time clocks based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) will be used to maintain synchronisation between intersections.
The significant increase in the number of pedestrians in the CBD compels a new approach, where pedestrian movement at junctions is managed in a manner that will ensure pedestrian safety, but at the same time reduce any delay to vehicular traffic.
The current parallel pedestrian signal control system in the CBD can lead to a loss in signal synchronisation at key junctions because turning vehicles have to wait while pedestrians are crossing the road. While pedestrians enjoy legal right-of-way over motorists during the green and flashing red man signal phases, drivers become impatient and often ignore this legal obligation.
Parallel pedestrian signal control systems are utilised in towns and cities across South Africa. However, during this major review, TCT will conduct a trial of an exclusive pedestrian control system where all vehicles at an intersection are kept stationary while pedestrians have the opportunity to cross the road.
‘Thus, unlike parallel pedestrian signal control systems where turning vehicles and pedestrians are competing for the same road space at the same time, exclusive pedestrian control will give pedestrians their own allotted time in the signal cycle. They will therefore enjoy a protected and safe opportunity to move through the intersections,’ says Councillor Herron.
The first trial will be conducted on Long and Loop Streets, from Strand Street to Wale Street. Audio-tactile pedestrian push-buttons will also be installed to aid pedestrians with special needs, thus improving on universal accessibility.
‘According to the City’s latest Household Travel Survey, up to 21% of the city’s residents walk to get to work and education facilities or social amenities. Therefore pedestrian safety and developments to accommodate pedestrians such as walking paths are priorities for the City,’ says Councillor Herron.
The City will also be investigating the introduction of bus identification equipment to assist MyCiTi buses that are behind schedule due to traffic congestion in the CBD. Through this technology, we are able to identify the presence of buses and their location along the road network and relay this to traffic signal controllers who may temporarily modify the timing of traffic lights to reduce delays to the buses. 
‘The benefits of the bus identification technology will be considered during this period and, if found to be suitable to our unique circumstances, TCT may recommend the implementation thereof,’ says Councillor Herron.

Published by the City of Cape Town.
© City of Cape Town, 2016