Taipei cools down by reducing waiting time at traffic lights for summer | Taiwan
Authorities in Taipei have shortened traffic light wait times for the summer, fearing pedestrians could get sick if forced to stand too long in the tropical heat.
Friday’s announcement will see more than 770 intersections in the Taiwanese capital cut waiting times by up to a minute and a half. On average, signal countdowns are reduced by 30 seconds each. The new hours will operate between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. until September.
Taipei’s summers are hot and humid, with average daily highs of around 95°F (35°C) in July and August, and annual warnings from health experts to avoid heat stroke and stroke. Sun. That weather would be “very uncomfortable for motorbikes and pedestrians stopping and exposing themselves to the sun,” said Wang Yao-to, director of the Traffic Engineering Bureau, on Thursday.
Long and often inconsistent waits for pedestrians in Taipei are an oft-discussed issue in the city of 2.6 million, where jaywalking is frowned upon. Waits of 70-80 seconds or more at major intersections are common.
At a central intersection near Taipei’s 101 Building, a giant Food Panda billboard hovers over those waiting: “Just to let you know…that red light will have you waiting 115 seconds,” he teases, seemingly suggesting that people use the time to order dinner.
One online commenter said: “There is a light near me that takes over two minutes to [change] and when it turns green, it’s only green for 15 seconds – to cross four lanes and go under a freeway.
Others shared their tactics for getting around delays, ranging from sprinting to green lights, walking to the next intersection or “becoming an expert jaywalker”.
Taipei’s traffic isn’t the most chaotic of Asian cities, but there are widespread safety issues, including drivers not yielding to crosswalks, especially among scooter riders.
Some commentators said the green light often did not last long enough for older residents and that it was safer to wait a few extra seconds for red-light vehicles to pass.
The city’s traffic bureau made similar changes in the summer of 2019 to about 430 intersections, and to 560 in 2020, also citing heat risk to waiting pedestrians and motorcyclists.
As global temperatures rise, academics have said Taiwan will experience longer, hotter summers. A report by Hsu Huang-hsiung, a researcher at the Center for Environmental Change at Academica Sinica, said last year that the average annual temperature in Taiwan had increased by 1.6°C over the past 110 years, with rapid increases in recent decades. Taiwan’s summer season has lengthened to between 120 and 150 days and could completely replace winter by 2060, he said.