Do main road traffic lights need to give priority?

Probably poorly phrased but not sure how to so I'll go with a description...

After an issue with a couple sets of lights as a cyclist (they wont turn green at all unless a car comes behind me) I've been advised to report to the local council. While doing this there's a couple other sets of lights that are now different to how they used to be & I'm wondering about the whole 2 birds 1 stone thing but only if I'm correct in my assumption.

1) On the main A road through town there was a set of lights that was always on green unless either someone had pressed the button to cross or a car was at the other set of lights on the joining road. For the past year these have been on red I'd say 60-70% of the time. 

And I'm talking about 5:45am when there's barely any cars or anyone around.

You'll stop at the lights, wait a few seconds, then they'll turn green - nobody else around.

2) A few 100 yards before this on the same road (obviously) with no joining roads to factor in, there's another set of lights. These were ALWAYS on green, unless someone pressed the button to cross which at that time of the morning never happened.

Now before the past 3 weeks I couldn't tell you the last time I got stopped at these lights at that time of the morning. They were just always green.

However in the past 3 weeks something has clearly changed because out of 15 mornings they've been red when I've came to them 13 times & of those 13 times only once was someone stood there waiting to cross & only once more was there anyone around who might have crossed. For the 13 other times there was literally nobody else around.
So you're sat there waiting for absolutely no reason whatsoever.


Am I right in thinking that as they're main road lights, their default should be green to keep traffic flowing until such time when someone presses the button to cross or a car on a joining road triggers the lights?

I'm sure I've been told that in the past but whether it's correct or not I don't know.
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  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,293
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    "Told" by whom? And what do you mean by "should"? A regulation or law of some sort?

    Have you checked that they're not simply faulty, or are you certain the change has come by design?
  • Car_54
    Car_54 Posts: 8,124
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    What defines a “main” road?

    The pedestrian crossing sounds clearly faulty. Report it.
  • MikeJXE
    MikeJXE Posts: 3,024
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    A simple solution if it bothers you is 

    Get off your bike and walk across 


  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,224
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    There is a corner near me which defaults to red in all directions when there is no traffic - that way it can go immediately to green when its sensors pick up a vehicle from any direction. And they sense far enough away that if the traffic is actually going at the supposed 20mph it does not need to stop at all.  It does sound like the sensors for bikes aren't working right.
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  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,176
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    user1977 said:
    "Told" by whom? And what do you mean by "should"? A regulation or law of some sort?

    Have you checked that they're not simply faulty, or are you certain the change has come by design?
    Does the "by whom" make a difference as to what your answer is?

    For example, if I say it was Dave 3 doors down would your answer be different to if I said it was Betty across the road?

    If you know the answer you could maybe just give it? Unless you don't in which case you could just say that too?

    And on account of not knowing how to "check" if they are faulty (I'm no traffic light technician), no I haven't checked. 

    What I'm certain of is that there's been a change. How it's come about I've no idea. I have no proof of it but to me there's just absolutely no way that i take that route day in day out for years & don't hit reds & now for 3 weeks running I'm hitting red 13 out of 15 days with nobody around to trigger the lights to change. If it was once or twice then fair enough but 13 out of 15 when nothing for so so so sooooooo long? I don't believe it.

    Car_54 said:
    What defines a “main” road?

    The pedestrian crossing sounds clearly faulty. Report it.
    1) On the main A road 
    The road being an A road with a single number next to it is how I call it the main road. I'm sure others probably call it something else & once again I'll be in minority of 1. 

    I'm convinced the crossing is faulty and while I'm reporting the lights that are causing an issue when cycling (side note - what are you supposed to do in that situation? After sitting there 5-10 minutes waiting I just went on a red when the way was clear) but what I wanted to do was check my assumptions were correct before submitting which is why I came here as I thought someone must surely know.

    MikeJXE said:
    A simple solution if it bothers you is 

    Get off your bike and walk across 


    I'd argue the distance required to travel it it would be more hazardous to walk across than cycle it, which is what I did.

    There is a corner near me which defaults to red in all directions when there is no traffic - that way it can go immediately to green when its sensors pick up a vehicle from any direction. And they sense far enough away that if the traffic is actually going at the supposed 20mph it does not need to stop at all.  It does sound like the sensors for bikes aren't working right.
    At first I thought you were talking about the 13 from 15 lights but by the end you seem to be talking about the lights that are causing me to issue a report with the cycling.

    For these lights I'm joining on to a main road (A#). I've seen the marking in the road which I assume may be some kind of pressure pad so I've stopped in that. No good. I've tried moving about in it. No good. I've got off the saddle & given it a bit of a hop. No good. I've had a look on tops of traffic lights for any sensors/cameras - not any.

    I've lived here & taken this route long enough to know the sequence (for when it's busy & cars are on the move) and I was certainly missed out twice before I decided to just go.

    Had a similar one with temp lights in an area I don't usually go to. I stop at the lights which are on a country lane. I'm waiting, waiting, waiting for ages. Nothing coming towards me but as I can't see where the end of the road works are I just wait. Still waiting, still waiting. Then a car comes behind me & boom, lights instantly change to green. That one was actually my first encounter with bikes not triggering light changes. 
  • user1977
    user1977 Posts: 13,293
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    edited 16 December 2023 at 10:48PM
    user1977 said:

    Have you checked that they're not simply faulty, or are you certain the change has come by design?

    And on account of not knowing how to "check" if they are faulty (I'm no traffic light technician), no I haven't checked. 

    I meant, of course, report it to the people who are traffic light technicians, and then you'll find out whether they fix it or tell you it's all working as intended. The rest of your query only seems to be relevant if the latter is the case.
  • born_again
    born_again Posts: 13,570
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    Probably poorly phrased but not sure how to so I'll go with a description...

    After an issue with a couple sets of lights as a cyclist (they wont turn green at all unless a car comes behind me) I've been advised to report to the local council. While doing this there's a couple other sets of lights that are now different to how they used to be & I'm wondering about the whole 2 birds 1 stone thing but only if I'm correct in my assumption.

    1) On the main A road through town there was a set of lights that was always on green unless either someone had pressed the button to cross or a car was at the other set of lights on the joining road. For the past year these have been on red I'd say 60-70% of the time. 

    And I'm talking about 5:45am when there's barely any cars or anyone around.

    You'll stop at the lights, wait a few seconds, then they'll turn green - nobody else around.

    2) A few 100 yards before this on the same road (obviously) with no joining roads to factor in, there's another set of lights. These were ALWAYS on green, unless someone pressed the button to cross which at that time of the morning never happened.

    Now before the past 3 weeks I couldn't tell you the last time I got stopped at these lights at that time of the morning. They were just always green.

    However in the past 3 weeks something has clearly changed because out of 15 mornings they've been red when I've came to them 13 times & of those 13 times only once was someone stood there waiting to cross & only once more was there anyone around who might have crossed. For the 13 other times there was literally nobody else around.
    So you're sat there waiting for absolutely no reason whatsoever.


    Am I right in thinking that as they're main road lights, their default should be green to keep traffic flowing until such time when someone presses the button to cross or a car on a joining road triggers the lights?

    I'm sure I've been told that in the past but whether it's correct or not I don't know.
    You sure that it's not someone that has crossed the road causing  the issue?

    Just because it never did it before, does not mean that someone may be using it now.
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  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,176
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    Probably poorly phrased but not sure how to so I'll go with a description...

    After an issue with a couple sets of lights as a cyclist (they wont turn green at all unless a car comes behind me) I've been advised to report to the local council. While doing this there's a couple other sets of lights that are now different to how they used to be & I'm wondering about the whole 2 birds 1 stone thing but only if I'm correct in my assumption.

    1) On the main A road through town there was a set of lights that was always on green unless either someone had pressed the button to cross or a car was at the other set of lights on the joining road. For the past year these have been on red I'd say 60-70% of the time. 

    And I'm talking about 5:45am when there's barely any cars or anyone around.

    You'll stop at the lights, wait a few seconds, then they'll turn green - nobody else around.

    2) A few 100 yards before this on the same road (obviously) with no joining roads to factor in, there's another set of lights. These were ALWAYS on green, unless someone pressed the button to cross which at that time of the morning never happened.

    Now before the past 3 weeks I couldn't tell you the last time I got stopped at these lights at that time of the morning. They were just always green.

    However in the past 3 weeks something has clearly changed because out of 15 mornings they've been red when I've came to them 13 times & of those 13 times only once was someone stood there waiting to cross & only once more was there anyone around who might have crossed. For the 13 other times there was literally nobody else around.
    So you're sat there waiting for absolutely no reason whatsoever.


    Am I right in thinking that as they're main road lights, their default should be green to keep traffic flowing until such time when someone presses the button to cross or a car on a joining road triggers the lights?

    I'm sure I've been told that in the past but whether it's correct or not I don't know.
    You sure that it's not someone that has crossed the road causing  the issue?

    Just because it never did it before, does not mean that someone may be using it now.
    Absolutely positive. 

    First few times I put it down to 'timed that wrong', coincidence. 

    When it kept happening (wasn't until later in the 2nd week that I got my first run through) I started paying more attention to what/who was around. Unless someone vanished in to thin air or teleported somewhere then there was just nobody around who may have pressed the button to trigger the lights turning red. 

    Again, if it was elsewhere in the day I could maybe think just poor timing or whatever but this is 5:45am. There's not many of us around at that time.
  • molerat
    molerat Posts: 31,531
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    edited 17 December 2023 at 4:49PM
    Traffic light timings are set by whichever authority is in charge of the road according to what they have decided is necessary.  Quite often a major road will have the lights set as a priority with a side road set as "on demand" but there is no rule.
  • B0bbyEwing
    B0bbyEwing Posts: 1,176
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    molerat said:
    Traffic light timings are set by whichever authority is in charge of the road according to what they have decided is necessary.  Quite often a major road will have the lights set as a priority with a side road set as "on demand" but there is no rule.
    I've just thought on - there was an incident on this stretch of road recently although now I've just checked for the local reports as to the date, my experience has been going on since a week or two before the incident so it's not going to be what triggered the change ... but it may make switching things back less likely. 

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