Let's put a stop to Bristol's traffic lights time-wasters
There are more than 350 traffic lights in Bristol and the surrounding area, costing taxpayers more than £500,000 a year to run.
In Bristol alone there are 169, in North Somerset there are 97, while South Gloucestershire has 85.
The three authorities have a joint arrangement to fund the maintenance contract of around half a million pounds a year.
Each junction costs anywhere between £30,000 and £50,000, depending on the scale of the infrastructure work required.
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But there can barely be a driver, bus passenger, pedestrian or cyclist who has not wondered whether they are all really necessary.
Whether it's Temple Circus, which could simply operate as a roundabout, or the ever-increasing number of junctions on the Avon Ring Road where lights are being installed, we all have our least-favourite irritations.
Bristol has the slowest-moving traffic of any UK city outside of London, according to figures released by the motoring group The AA last year. Opponents say waiting for lights to turn red wastes time, costs the economy and harms the environment.
Removing traffic lights is not without precedent, as several towns in Holland have installed lights-free road layouts that show having fewer restrictions actually improves safety and reduces waiting times.
Campaigners say the experimental removal of the much-criticised lights at Portishead's Cabstand junction also proves that red, amber and green is not always the best way forward.
In London, Westminster Borough Council is set to try the removal of dozens of traffic lights later this month in a bid to reduce congestion.
Increasingly, traffic experts are saying traffic lights are a thing of the past and their use is in need of a rethink.
The switch-offs in Portishead and Westminster were both influenced by the research of the writer and producer Martin Cassini.
Mr Cassini argues traffic controls cause more problems than they solve.
His research has explored the environmental and economic costs of wasting time waiting at traffic lights. According to his paper The Light Idea, every litre of fuel burned produces 2.4kg of carbon dioxide.
Around 30 per cent of our total CO2 output is from traffic, and according to Professor David Begg of the website Transport Times, nearly half of this is from traffic idling.
Research from Canada says that if every driver avoided idling for five minutes a day, 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 would be prevented from entering the atmosphere.
Then there's the cost of powering the lights. Bristol City Council alone spends around £200,000 powering its 340 lights, half of which are traffic light junctions. The other half are variable or pedestrian crossings and CCTV cameras.
Mr Cassini, 62, said: "Replacing main road priority and traffic lights with IQ – intelligent single queuing – is the quick and inexpensive way to cut congestion, accidents, road rage and emissions.
"Traffic lights take our eyes off the road. They make us stop when it's safe to go. They cause congestion and needless delay. They outlaw discretion, defy common sense, encourage speeding and license aggression. They waste fuel, deface streetscapes and pollute the air. They cost the Earth to install and run. By contrast, when lights are out of action, courtesy thrives and congestion dissolves."
Drivers the Evening Post has spoken to are keen on the idea of cutting back on unnecessary traffic lights. Association of British Drivers founder Hugh Bladon felt it was an "absolutely fantastic" idea to get rid of traffic lights.
Mr Bladon, 68, of Weston-super-Mare, said: "They cause congestion, the authorities seem to want to drive everyone's vehicles off the road.
"We're being dictated to by bureaucrats, we're creating a whole generation of people who are unable to think for themselves.
"Although we understand there are people for whom they are necessary, like mums with prams, pedestrian controlled lights are an absolute pain in the neck.
"You get people pressing the button, seeing there's no traffic and crossing, then when you get there the traffic stops and there's no one to cross.
"We've got junctions in Weston that are 100 per cent unnecessary."
He said: "You always have to go through one of them, you can spend five minutes waiting.
"The lights were out for five weeks and everyone was talking about how good it was. The traffic flowed smoothly, there were no hold-ups, no one was late for any appointments, no excess carbon monoxide was emitted from idling engines and no electricity was wasted running the traffic lights.
"Our elation was short-lived, as the lights are now working again."
And cyclists, often accused of ignoring red lights altogether, believe there are too many in Bristol.
Cycling campaigner and plumber Chris Hutt, 58, of Clifton, said: "I would say that getting around Bristol is very frustrating with so many traffic signals, and I think that is why so many cyclists and pedestrians jump lights when they think it safe to do so.
"This is obviously not an ideal situation from anyone's point of view.
"Cyclists would, on the whole, prefer to be able to make progress without breaking the law, but the current proliferation of traffic lights makes jumping them too tempting."
● We want to know what you think. If you could remove one set of traffic lights in Bristol, which one would it be?
To see a map of traffic lights nominated for removal click here.