Debate over new-look pedestrian crossings in Queensland

·News Reporter
·3-min read

In a bid to reduce physical touchpoints in the community, the Queensland government have revealed they are trialling new pedestrian crossings that require no touching.

The trial, which covers Brisbane, Ipswich and the surrounding areas, sees pedestrian crossings contain motion sensors that will detect when someone wants to cross the road and activate the signal to change.

It’s a move that has split the opinions of pedestrians and users across South East Queensland despite the tech already being installed in other major Australian cities. So what is all the fuss about?

A traffic light button for pedestrians with yellow car in background in Sydney.
Pedestrian crossings are starting to look a bit different in an attempt to keep them Covid-safe. Source: Getty Images, file

Evolving pedestrian crossings

With the never-ending need to find ways to keep communities Covid-safe, authorities in Queensland have put a lot of effort into trialling new innovations such as touchless pedestrian crossings.

The new crossings work simply by having someone raise their hand closely against a sensor placed normally where the push button would be.

Once the sensor is triggered, a red circle above the button will switch to green showing the motion was recognised and a green figure will soon appear.

Having had initial success with a brief trial in Brisbane’s CBD in August 2021, the new tech will be slowly rolled out throughout the Brisbane and Ipswich areas over the coming weeks.

An example of what a touchless pedestrian crossing looks like in NSW.
Touchless traffic crossings are being trialled across Brisbane and Ipswich. This is one shown in NSW. Source: Transport NSW

It marks yet another change in how we use pedestrian crossings with automated crossings already in place across Brisbane’s busier crossings in a bid to reduce touchpoints within the city.

Other Australian cities have also jumped on the bandwagon too with officials in Melbourne trialling these features over the coming weeks whilst Sydney first started using touchless crossings in mid-2020.

A touchless pedestrian crossing pictured in Queensland.
The sensor activates the crossing when it recognises a hand movement. Source: TMR Queensland

People divided over touchless pedestrian crossings

Even though the adoption of touchless crossings seems like a no-brainer, the reactions to the announcement on Facebook fiercely divided the opinions of local residents.

After the trial was announced on TMR (Transport and Main Roads) Queensland’s Facebook page, the post was flooded with comments from users who both loved and hated the concept.

Some users were quick to raise suspicions about the idea, with one user slating it as a "waste of money" and another seeing it as "garbage".

Not all respondents were unhappy with the new change. One person called it “a brilliant move” and another described it as a “good upgrade”.

Some social media users were also a little concerned about how people with disabilities would fare using it, particularly if they had vision or movement issues.

Despite the split of opinions, the trial of touchless pedestrian crossings shows state governments are continuing to look at ways to use new technologies to keep communities safe as they look to stay Covid-safe in the months to come.

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