Pedestrian lights change too quickly for older people - study

Research finds 31% of Irish adults aged 65-74 do not have enough time to cross the road

 Irish traffic management guidelines indicate a minimum walking speed of 1.2 metres per second is required to cross the road at light-controlled pedestrian crossings. File photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Irish traffic management guidelines indicate a minimum walking speed of 1.2 metres per second is required to cross the road at light-controlled pedestrian crossings. File photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

 

Lights at pedestrian crossings change too quickly for the majority of older people, research from Trinity College Dublin’s longitudinal study on ageing (Tilda) has found.

The study found that based on their normal walking speeds, 31 per cent of Irish adults aged 65-74 do not have enough time to cross the road in the time provided by pedestrian light signals. This increases to 61 per cent of adults aged 75 and over.

The Irish traffic management guidelines indicate that a minimum walking speed of 1.2 metres per second is required to cross the road at light-controlled pedestrian crossings.

However, the study found the over-65s walk slower than 1.2 metres per second and do not have enough time to cross.

Women walkers

The study found women walk more slowly than men at all ages, and therefore a larger proportion of women do not have enough time to cross the road at pedestrian lights.

In Ireland, pedestrian light signals follow a red, green, amber, red sequence, with the green light usually appearing for six seconds.

The study said if a pedestrian begins to cross the road when the green light appears they can use the duration of the green and amber phases, giving them enough time to safely cross the road.

The difficulty arises when the pedestrian starts to cross just before or after the green light changes to amber.

The report said inadequate crossing times may cause older people to avoid walking in areas that require them to cross the road.

This may lead to fewer social interactions, poorer quality of life and reduced physical activity.