Green man to be left on at pedestrian crossings in radical bid to get Londoners walking

Ross Lydall, Naomi Ackerman
Busy areas such as the Olympic Park and London Bridge will give walkers right of way over traffic

Pedestrian crossings in key locations will be re-programmed so the green man shows most of the time in a radical attempt to get Londoners walking.

Busy areas such as the Olympic Park and London Bridge will give walkers right of way over traffic, with the red man appearing only when an approaching vehicle is detected.

The aim is to ease pedestrians’ fears of the volume and speed of traffic and encourage a million extra trips by foot a day, turning London into “the world’s most walkable city”. It also wants to encourage over half of children in the capital to walk to school.

The proposal is part of the capital’s first Walking Action Plan, published by Mayor Sadiq Khan today.

In the autumn, the first of five “green man authority” signals will be introduced, where the change would “significantly benefit pedestrians with very little detriment to traffic”, according to Transport for London which has responsibility for all traffic signals in the capital.

Your say: Anything that cuts down on traffic is a 'great idea'

Karen Pang-Wright, 33, media worker

“Everybody likes to walk in London rather than taking the Tube, and it sounds like a great idea, except for in rush hour when nobody will be able to walk as there’s always traffic.”

Peter Ashwell, 23, musician

“It is a good idea if it works because it stops pointless red lights, and there are so many people crossing [Millennium Bridge] that it will help people cross the road.”

Helena Hall-Manning, 24, engineer

“I think anything that cuts down on traffic is a great idea. I suppose stopping and starting traffic is not so good, but hopefully it means that fewer people drive in, so yeah, why not?”

Francois Hafner, 29, works in advertising

“It would be good during rush hour, but would probably be tricky during down periods. I work by King’s Cross and cars at that zebra crossing are almost always stopped.”

Elissa Fletcher, 41, analyst

"It is definitely a good idea. It is peak hour now but I think a lot of times you are waiting when there is no need to be waiting and there is no traffic so it sounds like a good idea to me."

The locations include three crossings in the Olympic Park, between the Westfield shopping centre and the London Stadium, near the Shard at London Bridge station and near St Paul’s, to help thousands of people cross the Millennium Bridge. Eventually there will be 10 green-man zones.

“Scoot” traffic signals that increase the amount of time to cross the road when large crowds are detected will be expanded from seven to a further 20 locations.

The Walking Action Plan promises to deliver “more numerous and wider pedestrian crossings” and discourage school-run traffic with more 20mph zones, timed road closures and car-free days. The strategy says that walking is the most common way for Londoners to get around, with six million trips a day in which people travel all the way to their destination on foot.

TfL research suggests about 1.5 million short trips a day by car, bus or taxi could be walked. The Mayor’s wider vision is for 80 per cent of journeys to be made by foot, bike or public transport by 2041. The rate is 63 per cent now.

Will Norman, the Mayor’s walking and cycling commissioner, said: “We’re investing record amounts to make walking the safest, easiest and most enjoyable way of getting around.

“It will tackle the air pollution crisis and reduce congestion as the population grows.”