Summer 2003, p.10

Warning! Traffic Lights Can Be Bad for Pedestrians

Despite what many community groups may think, traffic calming devices, like the speed table in the Prospect Park South neighborhood of Brooklyn, are usually much more effective at reducing dangerous speeding than traffic lights.
The NYC DOT is besieged by requests for new traffic signals from communities seeking to reduce speeding and improve conditions for pedestrians. The agency often refuses these requests, which angers the public. But in this case, the DOT is usually right.

On low volume streets, traffic lights can actually make dangerous conditions even worse by encouraging speeding and increasing traffic. Philadelphia removed 400 traffic lights after an official study found that traffic lights increase the frequency and severity of crashes. Unfortunately, many community groups, uninformed and groping for any answer to their traffic problems, latch on to lights as their only hope. In many places, stop signs, speed humps and other traffic calming devices offer a better solution.

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