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'Intelligent' traffic light trial in Flanders aims to cut waiting times for drivers, pedestrians

08:41 23/05/2023

Flanders is currently testing an "intelligent" traffic light system which aims to improve traffic flow by sensing when circumstances allow it to turn green, rather than simply abiding by a timer.

Such systems are already in place elsewhere in the world, where sensors detect the presence of cars and the light turns green to keep people from waiting for traffic that is not there.

But Flanders' system would also help pedestrians and not just drivers, RTL reports.

The intelligent traffic lights would work by connecting to users' phones via an app.

“The application connects to the traffic light and shares information – not about your personal life, but about your journey and the speed at which you are arriving,” said Katrien Kiekens, spokeswoman for the Roads and Traffic Agency.

“The traffic light also detects how many cyclists and cars are present.”

The signal from the phone of someone who has the app installed will be picked up by the traffic light.

Depending on the number of phones picked up, the system adapts. When there is less traffic, the light turns green more quickly.

“This would help not only of a group of cyclists or a crowd of tourists who want to cross together, but also individual pedestrians who will wait less time to cross,” Kiekens said.

As part of the trial, traffic lights at 250 junctions will be equipped with the technology. Then, the app will be made available for users to download.

The system is expected to be ready by this summer.

Eventually, the trial app could be integrated directly into existing navigation applications such as Waze or Google Maps.

Written by Helen Lyons