Do we need all these lights and roundabouts?

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Councils are often accused of taking decisions without consulting with the people who will be directly affected.

So it’s refreshing to see that Portsmouth City Council’s transport leader, Cllr Jason Fazackarley, has given residents the opportunity to personally show him which roads need improving.

A tour was organised yesterday, when Cllr Fazackarley and the council’s transport officer, Barry Rawlings, visited various hotspots that members of the public believe need attention.

It just goes to show that councils can listen. Rather than coming across to people as some anonymous, bureaucratic monolith, a council can engage with the taxpayers it serves to make their lives better.

This isn’t just a one-way street though. By taking time to discuss road problems with the people who have to use them, the council can benefit by ensuring its limited budget is used in the best way.

The city council will spend £2m on road and junction improvements in the next year, so we’re not talking small sums here.

What this fact-finding mission has also highlighted is the question of whether traffic lights or roundabouts are the best way to deal with traffic.

In Portsmouth we have gone through major changes, with a lights upgrade at Unicorn Gate in the city and the use of lights to replace a roundabout at the Marriott Hotel junction at Wymering.

But there are clearly still problems.

At the Unicorn Gate junction, vehicles can queue for several minutes before the lights change.

With engines left running, there’s an issue of pollution as well as frustration.

The Marriott junction lights were controversial when they were introduced and are considered confusing and dangerous.

Rescheduling of lights may help, but perhaps it’s time for a debate in this country over the general effectiveness of traffic flow management.

Do we really need to have so many traffic lights and roundabouts?

Or could we manage safely without such a proliferation of measures to slow us down?