Please synchronise traffic lights

Pamela van der Merwe, Fish Hoek

Each morning and every afternoon there is a traffic jam/backup from 7am to 8.30am to 9am between Recreation Road and Boyes Drive, because the traffic lights do not work in sync, which means traffic cannot flow freely.

In order for the traffic signals to be synchronised, a group of signals must all be set to run on the same cycle length (the amount of time it takes for the signal to go from green to yellow to red and back to green again – after the cross street has been serviced).

Can we please have someone who can spend a morning or two watching the traffic, doing the drive themselves to see what the problem is.

It is very irritating and time-consuming, considering that it is an easy problem to solve.

• Mayoral committee member for urban mobility Rob Quintas responds: The City is taking measures – including completing the installation of new technologies this week – to reduce the travel time from Glencairn Road to Steenberg Road.

Synchronisation reduces travel delays, but other factors have a greater effect. For this route, the primary impediment is the road carrying capacity with a single lane in each direction, allowing for no more than 1 800 vehicles an hour (in each direction) if there are no driver-induced delays. But there are many such delays along this route so at most it can manage about 1 200 vehicles an hour, and the capacity demand between Boyes Drive and Steenberg exceeds that.

While 900 vehicles an hour in an urban environment is considered an acceptable performance, globally, the City aims to do better than that.

Adding to queueing on Main Road is the high volume of traffic entering Main Road at Atlantic Road, Albertyn Road and Uxbridge Road. These are fed from Royal Road, which also has long queues stretching back to beyond Prince George Drive.

So the matter is not as simple as it appears. These complexities have resulted in an investment of over R5 million on equipment to provide officials with greater real-time insight into the status of the flow along the route.

With this information, we intend, eventually, to manage the flow of traffic proactively. We will only reach full functionality in a few months from now.

As a first step, we are improving the current signal-plan operation. The immediate best that can be achieved, using the newly obtained data, is the optimisation of the signals. The first goal is to delay the onset of the queues as much as is mathematically possible and then to disperse the queues as quickly as is possible as new demand dies down. The total delay for the peak period will thus be reduced. We are, unfortunately, at this stage still going to experience the same degree of delays in the middle of the peak.

Motorists, however, can help by using an alternative route to Main Road, not rat running and avoiding the Albertyn and Uxbridge rail crossings.