Painting Lines - 1

Wed, Oct 19, 2016

This blog series intends to show some of the more ridiculous traffic engineering designs provided by VicRoads. These posts aren’t designed to debate legalities of such system but rather investigate the possible actions when people are provided with the stimulus.

Our first example is the intersection at the corner of Waltham Street and Bridge Road. The Google Street View of the area is a little out of date which shows that the traffic lights in this area which means the traffic lights have been installed in the last 2 years.

Image showing two traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing on Bridge Rd

The layout suggests that the intention of the intersection was to provide a crossing for pedestrians across Bridge Rd. The actual crossing occurs between Waltham and Bosisto Streets. Both streets have raised walkways for pedestrians, which is a nice touch compared to most walkways along Bridge Rd. As the two streets are offset the lights for the pedestrian crossing are put fairly far apart.

Image showing a concealed stop sign on Waltham Street towards Bridge R

Problems occur on the Waltham entrance to Bridge Rd. Interestingly the design of the traffic light system is limited for both Waltham and Bosisto streets with a single orange and red light. On Waltham this isn’t situtated directly in front of Walthan, but rather on the corner of Bosisto. As there is no green light on this pole the only time drivers will see that the intersection has traffic lights is when they are required to stop. There is no traffic light visible to people entering from Walthan until they have hit the intersection. It’s also worth noting that there are no pedestrian lights for crossing Walthan Street intersection if walking down Bridge Rd. This leads to some pedestrians thinking cars have right of way and some cars thinking they have right of way.

Image showing "Stop here on red arrow" sign

What is provided on Walthan is two traffic signs. A stop sign, 3 meters to the left of the road, concealed by 2 trees and a power pole, and a “stop here on red arrow” sign, concealed also by the trees. These photos were taken from the angle of a car and demonstrate the lack of vision of them. Also to note is the stop line for Waltham is fairly thin.

As there are no pedestrian lights and raised footpath most drivers are probably on the lookout for pedestrians, and given the concealed signs and lack of sufficient traffic lights and poor positioning it’s easy to see how a driver could miss the single red light. Missing the red light and turning corner puts the car directly into the path of pedestrian. Depending on the situation this could lead to the driver having to stop abruptly, or if there are no pedestrians crossing they may see the light ahead of them and stop on the intersection blocking persons from crossing.

While the intersection isn’t the worst example of poor traffic engineering, it does show some lack of thought around how users would interact with it. Some suggestions to improve usability:

  • Provide full green/yellow/red lights on both Walthan and Bosisto
  • Ensure the lights are in line with the oncoming traffic
  • Either add pedestrian lights or zebra crossings
  • Move signs to the side of the road rather than the middle of the foot path
  • Increase the thickness of Waltham line
  • Rather than deal with two incoming streets, move the crossing to the other side of the tram stops where there are no side streets.