Will Removing Traffic Lights Improve Streets?
In an attempt to reduce the approximately 10,000 car accidents that occur every year, Paris has considered various ways to make their intersections safer. One of their main methods is the removal of traffic lights.
While the decision to remove traffic lights may be alarming to some, it's believed that having the lights removed will allow the driver to focus on other things that aren't the colour of the light - like pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
To date 40 Parisian intersections have seen their lights removed. Now instead of waiting at a light, drivers face lower speeds, roundabouts and yield signs. These new approaches are meant to not only make the streets safer but also improve the traffic congestion.
While yielding and lower speeds may help the flow of traffic, the implementation of roundabouts may not be the safest method. Paris is already known to be home to one of the most infamously dangerous roundabouts at the Arc de Triomphe. So adding more roundabouts to the city is a cause for concern because despite being efficient for moving car traffic, roundabouts are not a safe crossing space for cyclists or pedestrians.
Due to the chaos at the Arc de Triomphe roundabout, it seems worrisome that Paris would consider replacing street lights and adding more roundabouts. Well, despite the appearance of the hectic roundabout (as seen above), it achieves the goal of keeping the traffic flowing and avoiding over congestion of the streets.
The effectiveness of the roundabout has other cities considering it as a better alternative to traffic lights. So while Paris has received the most attention regarding their decision to replace traffic lights, the city likely won't be the last to remove and replace traffic lights.
One of the reasons we may see an increase in alternatives to traffic lights around the world is because aside from seeing safer streets, the removal of traffic lights has economic gains. The cost of operating a single traffic light per year is estimated at $500(USD) per year. So in the instance of Paris, they have already eliminated approximately 160 lights, which means that they will see an economic savings of approximately $80,000(USD) this year.