Experiment: traffic lights disabled... and gone!

Until 2016, the intersection Sarphatistraat - Alexanderplein was controlled by traffic lights. Cyclists, the predominant users, had long waiting times. To investigate if we could improve the flow for cyclists, a trial was conducted by switching off the traffic lights. Find out about the results of trial and how the intersection was adapted.

At Alexanderplein, the main route for cyclists and trams on Sarphatistraat (part of Binnenring, the circular route around the historic centre), intersects with the radial route of Plantage Middenlaan. Cyclists are the predominant users here and they experienced unnecessarily long waiting times. With few cars, intersections can often work well without traffic lights. To find out if this would work at Alexanderplein a trial was conducted.

Two situations, traffic lights on and traffic lights off, were investigated. With camera observations, interviews with road users at the intersection and assesments of waiting times and queues.

13170-alexanderplein_01_21jan2013_e_v_eis.jpg Alexanderplein, january 2013. Photo: City of Amsterdam
29162-170321_alexanderplein_marjolijn_pokorny-7170.jpg Alexanderplein, 2019, after removal of the traffic lights. Photo: Marjolein de Lange

Lessons learnt

The research showed that switching off the traffic lights on Alexanderplein can be done safely. There isn’t any extra delay for trams, while the flow for cyclists improves. More detailed information about the results can be found in the report about the trial by DTV Consultants (in Dutch).

Switching off the traffic lights turned out to be an effective and road-safe measure at Alexanderplein. The situation was further improved when Sarphatistraat was made the priority direction and the layout was optimized. We are working on improvements for cyclists on other traffic light intersections as well.

Today, the intersection is no longer controlled by traffic lights. So, where did the traffic lights go? Check out the video below!

There is also an external article available on VerkeersNet, click here.

Meredith Glaser about Alexanderplein and Desire Lines

Our question

Does your city conduct similar experiments? Share your experience or lessons learnt with our community via Disqus below!


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