Cornish sees red over lights

Councillor Marcus Cornish at Emu Plains. Photo: Melinda Jane
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For many motorists, there is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in traffic. Except perhaps, having to wait when no one is there.

That’s the bugbear of Councillor Marcus Cornish, who has requested a report back to Council to make all suitable intersections with traffic lights in the Penrith LGA, left turn permitted after stopping.

He said allowing left hand turns at a red light when safe to do so was a “common sense approach”, and also suggested seeing if left arrows could be turned off during non-peak times.

“How many times at night do you pull up to the lights and there is no one there and you’re thinking, ‘why am I sitting here?’,” he said.

But according to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), sweeping change is not that simple, with a proposed site having to pass strict tests and checks.

“Left turn on red (LTOR) signs cannot be used in conjunction with left turn red arrows and where pedestrians have walk crossing signals,” an RMS spokesman said.

“While a left turn on red movement is designed to reduce delays at traffic lights, the safety of pedestrians is of the highest priority and a key factor in determining the installation of a LTOR sign.”

Cr Cornish has asked the report to include the benefit to peak and non-peak hour commuters, the cost savings in land and construction by not having to build slip lanes, the reduction of stress on the community, and also asked Council officers to investigate other countries that use a similar option, such as the USA, and its effectiveness there.

He said while it didn’t address all traffic woes, it was a good start to easing unnecessary congestion.

“I can’t see why any logical person would vote against it,” Cr Cornish said.

Positives of LTOR include less delays and less fuel consumption, while disadvantages include the potential for motorists to develop a disrespect for red signals at other approaches, as well as increased conflicts between left turn vehicles and “through” vehicles, an RMS document says.

Appropriate locations for LTORs include minor T-junction legs to main arterial routes, areas where traffic is light for significant periods during the day, and areas where conflicting pedestrian activity is light for significant periods.

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