Last year, Utrecht was the 50th city to sign the Green Digital Charter. Signatory cities aim to improve the quality of life of their residents through the innovative use of digital technologies.
In the 2016 case studies book (PDF english), we find that Utrecht entered its “Traffic Lights Hotline” in the category ‘Citizen participation & impact on society’. From the 14 projects in this category the city made it to the final with Reykjavik and Zaragoza and ended at second place.
The case study was described as follows:
UTRECHT, THE NETHERLANDS
TRAFFIC LIGHTS HOTLINE
Upwards of 100,000 cyclists ride across Utrecht every day, and many of them feel that traffic lights could be configured better, and that some are actually not necessary at all.
To utilise the knowledge and experiences of all road users, the municipality launched an online service (‘hotline’) in February 2015, asking citizens to indicate which traffic lights could be deactivated (for part of the day) and which traffic lights’ settings should be adjusted.
Within two months, almost 5,000 reports were received. The recommendations were remarkably clear, with several locations mentioned a lot more often than others, making the outcome very useful for the municipality. Based on these reports, traffic lights were deactivated at six intersections, and switched off outside peak hours at two other locations. Traffic light settings continue to be adjusted throughout the city.
The municipality made sure to respond to the reports, detailing the planned improvements at each affected intersection, and explaining why other suggestions had to be rejected. Both the reports and the responses are publicly available online.
The hotline has been such a success that the municipality decided to make this a permanent service for the city. The system enables intelligent traffic flow management and contributes to traffic safety. Its educational importance cannot be underestimated either.
The online information, that is mentioned, can be found (in Dutch only) on a public map.
I previously wrote about protests against badly functioning traffic lights in Utrecht. This took place before the hotline was opened. Utrecht has also been experimenting with a green light companion, but that project
has been stopped, at least in Utrecht. The project has been renamed Flo and is -in a changed version- further developed in Eindhoven. Utrecht is still involved but in a different way (information from Utrecht Fietst, after the post was published). Finally, last year I wrote an elaborate post about traffic lights in ‘s-Hertogenbosch with a lot of information about how the Dutch see and treat traffic signals.