TfL: Remote control pedestrian crossings trialled as new traffic light signals introduced on London roads

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TfL has introduced new traffic light designs, representing wheelchair users, at Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill and Whitechapel.

New traffic light designs were today introduced at five locations, while Transport for London (TfL) is also trialling remote control pedestrian crossings.

TfL has worked with Olympic rowing gold medalist Pete Reed OBE to introduce green wheelchair user crossing signals to represent disabled people ahead of International Day of Persons with Disabilities on Sunday December 3.

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The wheelchair user symbols can be seen at pedestrian crossings in Earl’s Court, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Tower Hill and Whitechapel, installed at no cost by Yunex Traffic. The locations were selected based on their proximity to busy Tube stations, which offer step-free access.

TfL is also running a trial at the temporary crossings at Manor Circus, which involves a remote-control button via a mobile app or separate handheld Bluetooth wireless device.

Olympic gold medalist Pete Reed

In 2019, three-time Olympic gold medalist Captain Pete Reed OBE experienced a spinal stroke which left him paralysed from his chest down. He approached TfL with his idea of a wheelchair user traffic signal.

He said: “As an Olympic athlete and naval officer, I spent my early adult life at the peak of human fitness. In 2019, in one day everything changed for me. My life now as a full-time wheelchair user has a whole range of new demands, which can be dramatically helped by better access and transport for wheelchair users, just as there should also be for the wider disabled community.

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“I’m so delighted that the mayor of London and TfL listened with open ears when I proposed these new wheelchair user traffic signals. What are only five traffic lights to one Londoner represent progress, positivity and possibility to another. The disabled community can and do offer so much value to all parts of society - I hope this visibility in mainstream life makes more people feel comfortable about getting out in the city and raising their voices where they see opportunity for positive change and collaboration.”

Olympian gold medal winning rower Pete Reed OBE inspired TfL's new traffic light signals. (Photo by TfL)Olympian gold medal winning rower Pete Reed OBE inspired TfL's new traffic light signals. (Photo by TfL)
Olympian gold medal winning rower Pete Reed OBE inspired TfL's new traffic light signals. (Photo by TfL)

Remote-control pedestrian crossings

While temporary lights are in place for work on the A316 Manor Circus roundabout near Richmond, TfL is trialling remote-control technology to make the crossing more accessible.

The three types of technology being tested:

  • A mobile phone app that connects to the crossing and works as a remote control
  • A wireless button that can be fitted to a mobility scooter, walking frame or electric wheelchair, that connects to the crossing and works as a remote control
  • A handheld tube that can be pressed from either end, for example for people who have trouble pressing buttons due to hand tremors

To take part in the trial, email [email protected]

'Increase the visibility of disabled people'

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, Will Norman, said: “London’s diversity is one of its biggest strengths and the Mayor wants everyone, whether resident, visitor or worker, to be able to participate in and enjoy all that our great city has to offer.

"It’s fantastic to be partnering with Pete Reed OBE ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The introduction of these traffic signals will increase the visibility of disabled people while highlighting the work that the Mayor and TfL are doing to ensure that London’s transport network is accessible for everyone, helping to build a better, fairer London for all.”

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Andy Lord, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “It is vitally important that we do more to increase awareness of disabled Londoners across our city alongside continuing to improve services for people who have accessibility needs. This is why it has been fantastic to work with Pete Reed and our accessibility partners to create these wheelchair user traffic signals and to install them in prominent locations close to busy step-free access stations on our network, so that thousands of people will see them every day.

“These new traffic signals along with our commitment to looking at how we can help make traffic signals easier to use, our work to provide more stations with step-free access and to keep streets free from clutter are all part of many different ways that we’re making London a more accessible city for all.”

Transport for All

The new wheelchair user traffic signals replace the green man symbol at the five locations and TfL says it worked closely with its Independent Disability Advisory Group (IDAG) and other disability campaigners to ensure that the signs best reflect wheelchair users. There are two designs showing a person using an independently controlled manual wheelchair and a person using an electric wheelchair. Alan Benson, co-chair of trustees for Transport for All, said: “It’s really important to have disabled people represented in the signs and symbols of society. But these signals aren't mere window dressing. They are a visual representation of TfL's efforts to make London’s streets more accessible. The innovative trial at Manor Circus paves the way for a step change in road crossings in the capital.”

TfL says it engaged with safety experts to minimise confusion to pedestrians using the crossings and has completed a thorough risk assessment and secured technical approvals for the wheelchair user signals. Other traffic signals at the five crossings, including the red stop lights for pedestrians, remain unchanged.

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TfL's new traffic light signals. (Pictures by TfL)TfL's new traffic light signals. (Pictures by TfL)
TfL's new traffic light signals. (Pictures by TfL)

Yunex Traffic

Wilke Reints, managing director of Yunex Traffic in the UK, said: “Equality, diversity and inclusion are hugely important in our business and so we are delighted to have been able to support International Day of Persons with Disabilities in such a special way.

“We work in close partnership with TfL to provide and maintain a range of traffic signal and control solutions across the city and were pleased to be able to work together to support this year’s event in this unique and memorable way.”

TfL initiatives

TfL says it is working with all London councils to make pavements more accessible for disabled people by helping to remove clutter such retail signage, as well as working closely with dockless bike and e-scooter companies to ensure they are parked correctly.

On the Tube and rail network, TfL recently announced the next 10 stations to be prioritised for step-free access. Trains on the Central line are undergoing extensive overhaul work and will feature dedicated wheelchair spaces, better lighting and new grab poles. Following a successful trial, mini-ramps will be introduced early next year at step-free access Underground stations where there is a small gap between the train and platform.

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TfL and Google are collaborating to provide Google Street View within 30 Tube stations, which they hope will be helpful for customers with accessibility needs in planning journeys. The images will be launched throughout 2024.

TfL has updated the Electronic Service Update Boards to make information about lift services easier to understand and to reduce the time for the board to display the relevant information. A self-reporting lifts project is under way to enable automatic updates regarding when lifts are in and out of service. Customers will see this updated on TfL’s journey planner, the TfL Go app, third-party navigation apps as well as in stations.

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