The new warning lights for buses indicate when the warning lights for pedestrians are flashing. Photo: DUB

Uithoflijn tram introduces measures to increase safety at pedestrian crossings

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Five traffic lights and a new warning light for buses will be installed to ensure the pedestrian crossings in Utrecht Science Park become safer. The measures were taken after complaints were received.

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When you cross the street at the Heidelberglaan, it regularly happens that the buses stand still, and the orange warning light is flashing. This leads to confusion. People have no idea whether it’s safe to cross or not. It’s also unclear to bus drivers. “On Wednesday morning, I almost got hit by a bus, even though the warning light for pedestrians wasn’t flashing. The driver opened the window and said he’d been allowed to pass through as well,” an employee of the Administration Building said on the university’s intranet. She’s reported the incident to the municipality.

Buses don’t have to wait as much
Now, the Uithoflijn project bureau, in collaboration with the university, university of applied sciences and the academic hospital, has come up with a number of measures meant to increase the safety of the traffic situation. “The time when the warning light is flashing and the traffic light for buses is red is called the clearance time, the time that’s necessary to clear the crossing,” says Diane Marbus of the Uithoflijn. “Now, we’re going to replace those lights with a flashing light for the bus and tram drivers that indicates pedestrians have to wait. When the road is clear, they can pass through. This is to prevent situations in which both the buses and the pedestrians have to wait.”

The Uithoflijn bureau isn’t afraid that buses will now drive through too quickly when the crossing isn’t entirely empty yet. “Bus and tram drivers have their own responsibility to check whether the crossing is free.”

Five traffic lights
Aside from a different type of traffic lights for buses and the tram, real traffic lights will be installed in five places: the corner of the Heidelberglaan and the Universiteitsweg, the Padualaan, the crossing at the hospital and power plant, the Hoofddijk, and the bus stop at the WKZ Máxima hospital. That last one will get special Nijntje traffic lights.

These five locations were chosen because other types of traffic pass through there as well, such as bicycles and cars. Marbus: “At the Heidelberglaan, the plans are in line with the previous situation, as it used to have warning lights exclusively.”

The new flashing lights for buses have been installed already. It’s as yet unclear when the traffic lights will be installed, although it will at least be completed before March, 2020.

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