How many signal heads is "enough"?

Discussion about street lighting, road signs, traffic signals - and all other street furniture - goes here.

Moderator: Site Management Team

User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Tue Nov 23, 2021 16:59

Prompted by a post on the Facebook page, where a narrow bridge is guarded by not one, not two, but *three* signal poles/heads in each direction. I guess there has to be a minimum of two, but the addition of a third signal, an additional secondary level with but on the opposite side of the road from the primary seems egregious. Clearly traffic signal salespeople have their sales patter up to snuff these days ...

But it seems to be a general disease these days, you can find junctions guarded by six or more heads pointing in the same direction, including primaries, duplicate primaries, high-level signals, multiple secondaries ... where does it end? Who decides on how many signal heads to install, and are they getting kick-backs from the manufacturers?
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

User avatar
Vierwielen
Member
Posts: 4290
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 21:21
Location: Hampshire

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Vierwielen » Tue Nov 23, 2021 21:46

... and there are probably no low-level signals such as aaare seen in France (for example here. Such signals enable the driver to see changes in the lights without having to crane their necks.

User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Tue Nov 23, 2021 22:10

Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 21:46
... and there are probably no low-level signals such as aaare seen in France (for example here. Such signals enable the driver to see changes in the lights without having to crane their necks.
Small signals at eye level are now being fitted on cycle routes, and seem not to be being routinely vandalised. Perhaps they should be piloted somewhere on a general traffic route, removing far side secondary signals as per French practice.
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

User avatar
Gareth
Member
Posts: 1669
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 19:16
Location: Liverpool
Contact:

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Gareth » Tue Nov 23, 2021 22:23

I actually quite like farside secondaries. It's getting annoying that they're increasingly not being used and I have to crank my neck to gawp at a poorly positioned nearside secondary.

User avatar
the cheesecake man
Member
Posts: 1664
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 13:21
Location: Sheffield

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by the cheesecake man » Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:11


User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:14

the cheesecake man wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:11
Nine?
That's really six for one movement plus three for the other, though, isn't it?
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

User avatar
the cheesecake man
Member
Posts: 1664
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 13:21
Location: Sheffield

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by the cheesecake man » Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:47

Chris Bertram wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:14
the cheesecake man wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 13:11
Nine?
That's really six for one movement plus three for the other, though, isn't it?
:cop: It's a fair cop! There's still definitely enough traffic lights at that junction though! :o

User avatar
Vierwielen
Member
Posts: 4290
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 21:21
Location: Hampshire

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Vierwielen » Wed Nov 24, 2021 21:40

Chris Bertram wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 22:10
Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 21:46
... and there are probably no low-level signals such as aaare seen in France (for example here. Such signals enable the driver to see changes in the lights without having to crane their necks.
Small signals at eye level are now being fitted on cycle routes, and seem not to be being routinely vandalised. Perhaps they should be piloted somewhere on a general traffic route, removing far side secondary signals as per French practice.
I learnt to drive in South Africa. Traffic lights at the far side of the junction was the norm. Lights at the near side of the junction have been introduced in recent years, but not always in places where they can be seen. This image, taken not far from where my parents used to live, shows some overhead lights that cannot be seen from the first car, making the distant lights absolutely mandatory. When I first drove in France and saw the low-level lights, I thought "what a good idea!"

User avatar
skiddaw05
Member
Posts: 1826
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 21:33
Location: Norwich

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by skiddaw05 » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:29

Cyclist have been generously provided with two signal heads almost next to each other! It's a pity they are virtually impossible to see from the stop line

User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:45

skiddaw05 wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:29
Cyclist have been generously provided with two signal heads almost next to each other! It's a pity they are virtually impossible to see from the stop line
That's awful. What is needed is this - one pole, one normal-sized head plus one eye-level miniature signal. But I'd strongly recommend this for general traffic anyway, do away with the far-side secondaries and only add a high-level signal for visibility if needed.
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:48

Vierwielen wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 21:40
Chris Bertram wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 22:10
Vierwielen wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 21:46
... and there are probably no low-level signals such as aaare seen in France (for example here. Such signals enable the driver to see changes in the lights without having to crane their necks.
Small signals at eye level are now being fitted on cycle routes, and seem not to be being routinely vandalised. Perhaps they should be piloted somewhere on a general traffic route, removing far side secondary signals as per French practice.
I learnt to drive in South Africa. Traffic lights at the far side of the junction was the norm. Lights at the near side of the junction have been introduced in recent years, but not always in places where they can be seen. This image, taken not far from where my parents used to live, shows some overhead lights that cannot be seen from the first car, making the distant lights absolutely mandatory. When I first drove in France and saw the low-level lights, I thought "what a good idea!"
Well, the practice in much of the US and Canada is for far-side signals only, usually one per lane, mounted on gantries or mast-arms or strung on span-wire, and sometimes horizontally rather than vertically orientated. Near-side signals are very much the exception.
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

WHBM
Member
Posts: 8583
Joined: Thu Nov 30, 2006 18:01
Location: London

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by WHBM » Thu Nov 25, 2021 13:58

Chris Bertram wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 16:59
But it seems to be a general disease these days, you can find junctions guarded by six or more heads pointing in the same direction, including primaries, duplicate primaries, high-level signals, multiple secondaries ... where does it end? Who decides on how many signal heads to install, and are they getting kick-backs from the manufacturers?
This high mast was installed on the North Circular Road in London shortly after a fatal accident to a colleague's wife, struck by an HGV from the centre lane, which had been obstructed in view of the heads at red either side by HGVs in lanes 1 and 3. I've written about this here before.

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5515795 ... 384!8i8192

I do not believe anyone in engineering gets a kick-back for such, or anything comparable. Try being an engineer when you get a fatality on your patch and you consider if things could have been arranged differently.

Jonathan24
Member
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2011 19:45

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Jonathan24 » Thu Nov 25, 2021 18:08

WHBM wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 13:58
Chris Bertram wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 16:59
But it seems to be a general disease these days, you can find junctions guarded by six or more heads pointing in the same direction, including primaries, duplicate primaries, high-level signals, multiple secondaries ... where does it end? Who decides on how many signal heads to install, and are they getting kick-backs from the manufacturers?
This high mast was installed on the North Circular Road in London shortly after a fatal accident to a colleague's wife, struck by an HGV from the centre lane, which had been obstructed in view of the heads at red either side by HGVs in lanes 1 and 3. I've written about this here before.

https://www.google.com/maps/@51.5515795 ... 384!8i8192

I do not believe anyone in engineering gets a kick-back for such, or anything comparable. Try being an engineer when you get a fatality on your patch and you consider if things could have been arranged differently.
I think if anything, they are needed in a lot more places than where they are currently installed. One example near me in this:

https://www.google.com/maps/@54.5694139 ... 312!8i6656

It's quite often badly affected by queuing traffic and if there is an HGV on the right hand side (as there is in the Google image) or more commonly, a bus (given the position of the bus stop), and a bus/HGV also going the other way (as is commonly the case), you wouldn't know the traffic lights existed.

User avatar
Beardy5632
Member
Posts: 1411
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 16:45
Location: Forest of Dean

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Beardy5632 » Thu Nov 25, 2021 21:04

Definitely the 8 at White Mare Pool and Elmbridge Court!
Motorways Driven-1,4-6,8,9,18,25,32,40,42,48-50,53-58,60-62,65-67,69,73,74,77,80,90,180,181,602,606,621,876,898,1(M),8(M),38(M),48(M),57(M),58(M),64(M),74(M),92(M),167(M),168(M),194(M),195(M),601(M),627(M),635(M),666(M),823(M),1058(M),WSM.

F99 Roads Driven-1,4,6-9,15,18,19,34,38,40-42,44,46,48-51,57-59,61,63,64,68-99.

User avatar
Chris Bertram
Committee Member
Posts: 13744
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2001 12:30
Location: Birmingham, England

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Chris Bertram » Thu Nov 25, 2021 21:47

Beardy5632 wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 21:04
Definitely the 8 at White Mare Pool and Elmbridge Court!
Ok, so in these cases we have wide approaches to signalised roundabouts. We therefore have to have duplicate primaries and we have those. Given what WHBM says, high level signals are sensible at the stop line, and we have those. But the secondaries - do we need two poles, and even if we do, what the feck is the point of the totem pole arrangement? If you are on the stop line waiting for the green, you surely don't need a high level signal, do you?
“The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead.” - Douglas Adams.

Did you know there's more to SABRE than just the Forums?
Add your roads knowledge to the SABRE Wiki today!
Have you browsed SABRE Maps recently? Try getting involved!

User avatar
Gareth
Member
Posts: 1669
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 19:16
Location: Liverpool
Contact:

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Gareth » Fri Nov 26, 2021 13:55

Chris Bertram wrote:
Thu Nov 25, 2021 12:48
Vierwielen wrote:
Wed Nov 24, 2021 21:40
Chris Bertram wrote:
Tue Nov 23, 2021 22:10
Small signals at eye level are now being fitted on cycle routes, and seem not to be being routinely vandalised. Perhaps they should be piloted somewhere on a general traffic route, removing far side secondary signals as per French practice.
I learnt to drive in South Africa. Traffic lights at the far side of the junction was the norm. Lights at the near side of the junction have been introduced in recent years, but not always in places where they can be seen. This image, taken not far from where my parents used to live, shows some overhead lights that cannot be seen from the first car, making the distant lights absolutely mandatory. When I first drove in France and saw the low-level lights, I thought "what a good idea!"
Well, the practice in much of the US and Canada is for far-side signals only, usually one per lane, mounted on gantries or mast-arms or strung on span-wire, and sometimes horizontally rather than vertically orientated. Near-side signals are very much the exception.
That's the federal standard but there's still big variations between states. Much of the north east tends to have two signals on a diagonal trajectory over the intersection, either by span wire or a mast arm on each corner. New Jersey tends to do nearside mast arm and farside mast arm, the signal head on the nearside being on the left/offside.

Wisconsin always uses a post-mouted signal at the stop line and even a duplicate offside one on dual carriageways, which looks very British. California's also increasingly tending towards this though it's not mandatory there - a signal at the stop line, farside signals on both opposite corners and a farside mast arm if the exit road has two or more leaving lanes (in California this is more often than not).

I think the key thing, whichever approach you go for, is consistency. I feel we haven't had that in this country for several years now. There may be farside signals, there may not. There may be only two signal heads but there could be as many as five or six etc.

ReissOmari
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 21:51
Location: Birmingham

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by ReissOmari » Sun Nov 28, 2021 14:01

Another 8 header here in Corby, I'd say this one makes sense though for the same reasons mentioned above regarding lorries blocking the primary signals. https://goo.gl/maps/ZyRGFBdVWYTFXByz7
ReissOmari..

User avatar
traffic-light-man
Member
Posts: 4351
Joined: Fri Sep 01, 2006 18:45
Location: Liverpool, UK

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by traffic-light-man » Sun Nov 28, 2021 14:46

10?
IMG_20211124_124610.jpg

Ultimately, the only actual regulation is that each signalised movement (full phases for motor traffic) has two signal heads, as per TSRGD. The actual amount of signal heads used is a decision taken by the designer which will be based on a variety of influences including site conditions, responses to safety assessments and perhaps also a highway authority's policy, amongst other things. There's also a personal judgement call of the designer to factor in, which I think will always vary between designers, naturally.

I generally don't like street clutter, and the over-use of heads and standard-height poles is most definitely a huge contributor to that, but the biggest trend that actually grinds my gears is the use of 6m or 8m poles almost as a matter of routine in some areas where they just don't appear to be necessary. But then again having said that, my idea of over-use might be someone else's idea of not enough...
Simon :driving:

User avatar
Gareth
Member
Posts: 1669
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 19:16
Location: Liverpool
Contact:

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Gareth » Mon Nov 29, 2021 17:56

The modern obsession with totems with two vertically aligned signals is annoying too. That's a big culprit in many of these cases where there's too many signal heads. Often, just a single mast arm would suffice and even then, only on wide roads.

I do feel the UK's almost unique aversion to mast arms is part of the problem.

User avatar
Bfivethousand
Member
Posts: 1323
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 22:16
Location: Derbyshire

Re: How many signal heads is "enough"?

Post by Bfivethousand » Mon Nov 29, 2021 21:10

Eight at the end of the superhighway otherwise known as the A4097...
16 Sodium atoms walk into a bar
followed immediately by Batman

Post Reply