Walking made light work
At about 80 intersections in the Cape Town city centre all the traffic lights change to red at the same time, giving pedestrians the chance to cross the street without fear of passing cars.
Mayoral committee member for transport for Cape Town Brett Herron said: "Unlike parallel pedestrian signal control systems, where vehicles and pedestrians compete for the same road space, exclusive pedestrian control gives pedestrians their own allotted time in the signal cycle."
He said with this method pedestrians could cross the city using its intersections safely.
Pedestrian control is part of a larger project to improve traffic signal timing at the 110 intersections in Cape Town's central business district, a project that started in August 2014.
Herron said the parallel pedestrian signal control system led to a loss in signal efficiency at key junctions because turning vehicles had to wait while pedestrians were crossing the road.
"While pedestrians enjoy right of way over motorists during the green and flashing red man signal phases, drivers became impatient and often ignored this," he said.
"The purpose is to reduce delays and to enhance the mobility of all road users in the CBD, from motorists, commuters travelling in the MyCiTi buses and pedestrians alike," Herron said.
Bertha Scheepers, speaking on behalf of the Johannesburg Roads Agency, said: "To date this has not been tested in Johannesburg. Our drivers and pedestrians are not disciplined enough, and suitable enforcement is unlikely, so this feature would probably be very hazardous as a result."
Cape Town has not compared accident statistics before and after the implementation of exclusive pedestrian phases.
"The new provision for pedestrians has not been in place long enough to enable a researcher to determine whether there has been a significant change in the underlying accident rate," said Herron.
Cape Town pedestrian Edward Chizimu said: "I haven't especially noticed the change but now that you tell me perhaps I will see it.
"But what I can say is that I find it difficult to cross the road in the CBD."