Green man at pedestrian crossings could stay lit up longer for UK's 'less fit' population

Calls have been made to extend the time the green man is shown on pedestrian crossings because many of us can't move quickly enough, Ben Chapman reports

The green man stationed at the UK's road crossings is set to stay lit up for longer as the population becomes "less fit".

New Department for Transport (DfT) guidelines have revealed that the light will remain for an extra 20% of its current time to allow obese and overweight people enough time to cross the road, as well as "to encourage walking and make journeys safer."

The government will hope the change decreases the risk of serious accidents as the allotted time for crossing the road increases from 6.1 seconds to 7.3.

Britons have become "slower" in recent years - since 1993, the proportion of adults in England who are overweight or obese has risen from 52.9% to 64.3%, and the proportion who are obese has risen from 14.9% to 28.0%, according to government statistics.

The green man change was announced by Active Travel England (ATE), an executive agency of the DfT that has drawn up the plans.

ATE chief Brian Deegan said: "A lot of infrastructure is aimed at the average person, but the number of people excluded by that is growing, so we have to tackle it.

"If we don’t give people enough time, they are going to feel they can’t cross the road and that will leave some people feeling that they can’t leave their own house if they don’t have a car.

Britons will have longer to cross the road as the plans are introduced on a trial basis. Credit: PA

"We are going to have to meet people where they are.

"That means local authorities might need to think about extending crossing times."

The changes to how long the green man will stay lit up will be put out to consultation in September this year but are already being used on a pilot basis.

It draws into question why the change has not been implemented earlier - not just for those overweight, but for disabled people or the elderly.

A 2012 study from the University of College London (UCL) revealed that 76% of men and 85% of women over the age of 65 failed to cross the road in time.

Research found that the walking speed of participants in a Health Survey for England was 0.9 meters per second for older men and 0.8 meters per second for older women, but this is significantly slower than the 1.2 meters per second required to use a pedestrian crossing in the UK.

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