Street Use

Smart Information-Rich Traffic Signals

I love these traffic lights I saw in Suzhou, China (near Shanghai). Rather than the simple three-bit information of red, yellow, green, you get the count-down time for green and red. So you know exactly how many seconds of “go” you have left, as well as how long that red light will last. Rather than causing people to game the system, it simply makes driving around much easer and less stressful. Really, why don’t we do that everywhere? I know that some European cities have count-down clocks on green lights, but I had never seen them on the red as well.


Posted on May 14, 2007 at 6:16 am | comments

  • We have countdown timers for the walk function on the traffic lights in Central Square, Cambridge, MA. Each second is announced with a beep as well.

  • You can’t have a countdown if the lights aren’t on a timer. Most traffic lights aren’t – they respond to induction sensors in the road and/or pedestrian crossing buttons, and change never (or ridiculously seldom) when those sensors haven’t been tripped.

    You could still put a timer on the lights that counts down from five or whatever when the sensors ARE tripped, but it wouldn’t have a lot of information value.

  • JMD

    The same has been up in Copenhagen, Denmark for a while for pedestrian crossings. They seem to actually reduce the amount of people crossing on a red light.