- Wed Dec 27, 2017 8:42 am
Hugh Fort ,Live News Reporter,
Drivers in Bracknell may have noticed some of the town’s famous roundabouts are being removed to be replaced by traffic lights.
One of the questions getreading has been asked is “Why are the council doing this?”.
Hugh Fort met Neil Mathews, head of transport development, and Stuart Jeffries, transport strategy and implementation manager, at Bracknell Forest Council to hear the thinking and science behind the plans
Drivers in Bracknell find themselves in an unfortunate position.
For everyone making a short trip there’s someone trying to get from Reading to Guildford, or the M25.
Many cars come through the borough, every day.
In fact, the A322 going through the town to the M3 has a massive 54,000 cars using it every working day.
This poses a massive problem for the people in charge of traffic flow through the town.
They’re also faced with the prospect of many more people coming to Bracknell’s new town centre when it opens in Spring 2017.
They also have to work out how many more cars are likely to arrive when the people start moving in to the 11,000 new homes coming to the borough by 2026.
It’s enormously complicated, and requires lots of hugely brain-straining arithmetic, done by very clever software.
Why traffic lights?
The simple answer is they give more control over traffic flows.
The example given by Stuart Jeffries was the old roundabout on London Road by John Nike Way.
The roundabout was used by staff at companies like HP and 3M, who’d spend hours trying to get out on the main road, where very few people turned right.
That roundabout has since been removed and replaced by lights and all evidence suggests the traffic flow is much improved.
Jennett's Park roundabout is the next for the traffic light treatment.
Likewise, anyone who used to use the Horse and Groom roundabout leading to Bagshot Road knows that unless you got on with a good run up, then it was a distinctly alarming process trying to get on there.
Neil Mathews explained the traffic on that particular roundabout was often moving unusually fast, which made it very difficult, and often dangerous, for stationary cars to get on to the roundabout.
That roundabout has now also had lights added to it and again, the evidence says it flows much better.
Mr Jeffries explained the traffic lights of today are not like the basic clockwork ones of yesteryear which change at a certain time regardless of what time it is and what’s happening.
Today’s lights can be changed remotely, and are equipped with cameras which show any traffic issues.
The timings can then be altered to control the traffic flows around the town.
“Reliable journey time”
Mr Mathews went on to explain the thinking about traffic movement is now all to do with “reliable journey time”.
This is the idea that people know exactly how long their journey takes, and it taking that long, rather than jumping in the car and a trip sometimes being much quicker or taking much longer.
Mr Jeffries said: “Traffic management is much more intelligent.
“People know where the hotspots are, they use Google maps and there’s a lot of communication about roadworks, to the point where drivers normally know they’re happening.
“We’re now able to control the lights so the people who need it the most get the green time to clear any queues.
“The intelligence shows how pressured the junctions are and we can control that.
“With roundabouts we were finding there was not an even distribution of traffic, and then queues would be up from people who were giving way to the right but unable to get out. Lights stop that.”
The most recent plan is to add traffic lights to the Reading-bound carriageway of the A329M on the Jennett’s Park roundabout.
Again, the idea is to free traffic coming on to the motorway from the right.
And that is why Bracknell’s famous roundabouts are being phased out.
The two traffic experts both conceded in an ideal world, roundabouts would be the best way for traffic to move, saying they’re much cheaper than lights to operate.
But they’re both insistent controlled traffic lights are better for controlling traffic flow as everyone can get some “green time” rather than having to give way to the right.