Albatross crossing

A little part of my everyday life was changed recently. It was changed in a way that could have potentially made things better for everyone. Instead, it’s a stinking mess-up. Worse things might happen at sea. But more irritating things don’t.

Actual photograph of a junction There is a particularly awkward cross-junction near the train station in Kirkcaldy. It’s not really a proper cross-junction, as you can see from the expert artist’s impression on the right.

In addition to the roads going up and down not being aligned with each other, there are high walls holding up the railway bridge. This ensures that nobody can see anything. Inevitably, this is all controlled by traffic lights.

Some bigwig at the council must have decided that this area was too dangerous for pedestrians. So the old traffic lights were taken down and replaced with new ones incorporating pelican crossings. I had assumed that they were actually going to be puffin crossings — I thought all new light controlled pedestrian crossings were puffin crossings, but seemingly not.

But because they are bog-standard pelican crossings and not fancy new puffin crossings, you have to wait until the whole bloody cycle has finished before you can cross. But by the time that has finished, you have probably taken your chance and run across the road. It wasn’t so bad before because there was a traffic island there. Back then you could cross the road one half at a time. Now you have to wait until both sides of the road are clear.

My brother also takes the train to university every day, and he is most unimpressed as well. In fact, he reckons it has added five minutes onto his journey time! I wouldn’t go that far, but it certainly is an inconvenience. Not only does it piss me — the pedestrian — off, but it also pisses the drivers off as well.

You see, inevitably I do the trick of pressing the ‘wait’ button on the first of the crossings that I come to — not the one that I use, but since they are all connected it does the job. But the drivers don’t know that. They must think I am a pesky kid pressing the ‘wait’ button just to annoy the drivers. Of course I am not childish enough to do that any more. I grew out of that at least two years ago.

And another thing — the green man takes so bloody long to make his appearance that the pedestrian has probably already crossed the road. It is not unusual for me to have walked about 100 yards when I hear the belated “beep beep beep beep” from the pelican crossings. This means that all the drivers have to wait while the green man attends to absolutely nobody crossing the road.

In short, this new pelican crossing costs everybody time and has — with the removal of the traffic island — reduced road safety. Way to go, Fife Council!

Oh, by the way. Looking at my diagram, can you guess which part of the road pedestrians usually cross over? Yes, it’s the bit in the middle, from the right of the road on the top to the left of the road on the bottom. And that is the one part of this road that doesn’t have a pelican crossing on it!

6 comments

  1. I’m somewhat sad it doesn’t work – I saw it when I was home last week and got excited because I HATED that junction when I used to have to walk to the College of Hell every day. The worst crossing, though, has to be the one at the brdge at the top of Milton Road/bottom of Balwearie Road/end of Abbottshall. I’ve not seen it in use – if it even is, yet – but that was a stupidly hellish junction to get out of in the first place (easy enough to cross, if you’re patient and sensible) and now it’s going to be practically impossible to get out of Balwearie at times. Raa! Maybe I’ll write to the council and claim that why I moved to Edinburgh – not sure they’ll believe me though…

  2. Excellent post about that stupid crossing. I agree on all of the points, and have myself had several experiences of being very far along the road having taken the chance long before.

    It would all have been alright if they had left the traffic islands in, then I could merely ignore the traffic lights altogether, however they just had to remove it.

  3. So the old traffic lights were taken down and replaced with new ones incorporating pelican crossings. I had assumed that they were actually going to be puffin crossings — I thought all new light controlled pedestrian crossings were puffin crossings, but seemingly not.

    Sorry to be pig-ignorant but can you explain the difference for your international readers?

  4. Pelican crossings are the basic ones with a red and green man and they work on a timed cycle. Puffin crossings use sensors to determine when a pedestrian is waiting to cross and whether there are any drivers being held up by red lights. For instance, if there were no cars coming, a puffin crossing would show the green man. The pelican crossing, on the other hand, would only show the green man after a certain amount of time.

  5. Toucans allow cyclists to use them – and operate on the same principle as Puffins and Pegasus crossings are for equestrians.

    I’ve not got much better to do…