My mum always used to say that when lights were introduced to any junction, things always got slower and more messed up than before. According to this article from Salon, she was right. They propose a solution to avoid needing the lights – you slow down the traffic to 20 mph, and then the junctions operate more efficiently.
It fits into an overall approach of depending on drivers and other road-users to ‘do the right thing’ on the road rather enforcing a strict set of rules, with lots of signage and lines on the street.
The interesting thing about this for Ireland is that there is going to be a change in speed limits in urban areas in Dublin over the next year or so. We are going to change from imperial to metric speed limits.
At the moment, the speed limit in urban areas is 30 mph. If the government was to leave the existing signage in place and change it to kilometres, that would bring the limit down to 18.5 km/h. If the theory described in the Salon article works, it would allow a lot of traffic lights to be taken out on certain streets (for example, in places like Donnybrook, Ranelagh and Phibsborough). This could make well make things run more smoothly.