Changes to Cairns traffic lights to make street crossings safer
DRIVERS and pedestrians will wait half as long at traffic lights in the Cairns CBD under a plan to free up congestion and curb dangerous jaywalking on the city's streets.
Red lights at many CBD intersections currently last up to 140 seconds, which is far too long according to national guidelines that say impatient pedestrians jay-walk instead of waiting for the green signal.
Cairns Regional Council wants to reduce the traffic light cycle to 70 seconds, hoping a shorter wait will reduce traffic and make walkers more willing to comply with the rules.
And because many tourists aren't aware they need to push the button to activate the "green man", the council also wants to make the pedestrian phase an automatic occurrence at popular crossings.
Cairns police say confusion reigns at many intersections and jay-walking is a constant problem in the CBD.
"The fact that we have both locals and international visitors means there's a lot of misunderstanding about what's required and people get impatient," Cairns District Crime Prevention officer Sen-Constable Russell Parker said.
"The big thing is for people to have patience."
In the CBD yesterday, pedestrians said they would welcome more frequent opportunities to cross the road legally.
"I feel safe using the crossings but sometimes you have to wait too long," tourist Susi Rothenaicher said.
Some feel motorists are to blame for the danger at intersections.
"A lot of cars come speeding around the corner and they honk their horn at you when the red man is flashing, even though you've got the right of way," resident Angela Mariani said.
The 70-second cycle was trialled at the intersection of Spence and Sheridan streets recently. Almost nine out of 10 pedestrians obeyed the signals and crossed the road safely and legally, compared with only 59 per cent when the wait was longer.
The council will vote on the new measures at a meeting tomorrow.
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Safety first: Susi Rothenaicher using the a crossing at the intersection of Abbott and Shield Street. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS