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GP: The city of Graz has renewed and updated its system of pelican crossings (traffic light controlled crossings). -Austria PDF Print E-mail

To reduce waiting times for cyclists and pedestrians, the city of Graz has renewed and updated its system of pelican crossings (traffic light controlled crossings). At one crossing in the centre of Graz, cars and not pedestrians or cyclists have to be sensed by the signal controller in order for the traffic lights to turn green for them.


Background & Objectives

Commonly, pelican crossings are signal-controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. People who want to cross push the control button to activate the traffic signals, wait until the lights turn green and finally cross the street. The problem of long waiting times at pelican crossings is well known. Pedestrians had to wait for up to 100 seconds for the green wave, meaning the likelihood of them crossing against the signal was statistically significant. Pedestrians were therefore putting themselves in danger and also forcing car drivers to stop for red traffic lights when the pedestrians had already crossed the road.
A solution to this issue has been developed up in Graz, where a new type of pelican crossing was implemented in autumn 2008. The innovative traffic light system was launched by the deputy mayor of Graz, Lisa Rücker, and the city’s traffic signals expert Winfried Höpfl during European Mobility Week. At the launch, Deputy Mayor Rücker stated that there was a desire to improve the situation for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport with respect to the city’s system of traffic signals.
The city chose the pedestrian crossing near the Edeggersteg for the test model because the number of people crossing here is significantly higher than on many other roads due its close proximity to the city centre.


The new traffic signal control follows a simple pattern of operation. Commonly, pelican crossings are signal-controlled crossings operated by pedestrians. In Graz, however, the light remains green for cyclists and pedestrians. Only if cars cross an inductive loop (embedded under the road surface 100 meters before the crossing), do the traffic lights change in favor of the car. If the car driver approaches at a constant speed of 40 km/h, he does not even have to stop before the traffic lights change.

Because of a higher traffic circulation on working days, there is a fixed cycle time of 40 seconds on working days. This means that pedestrians only have to wait up to 28 seconds until they can cross, which is a much shorter wait than previously. Nevertheless the flow of traffic is not disturbed and major traffic jams are prevented.


No negative impacts have been noted from the change in the traffic signal control and timings at the crossing. In 2009, the city even installed a second traffic signal that uses the green wave system for pedestrians. Further projects are likely to be developed, as the city is currently investigating further potential locations. The innovative pelican crossing was without doubt a success. Additionally, the authorities want to survey passers-by to ensure if the crossing is safer for cyclists and pedestrians. The answer will most likely be “yes”since there is a probability of 70-86% that they can cross the road without having to wait at all. The costs for the production and implementation of the sensor were 12 000 €.


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