MT 95/59

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Pedestrian signals: Slough experiment

Date range1955-1957
LocationNational Archives (see all files stored here)
CatalogueSee entry
File baseSeries MT, subseries MT 95

Context

As part of a wider push for improved road safety during the 1950s, the Ministry of Transport commissioned the RRL to research a whole host of innovative safety measures. In 1955 the Ministry declared that Slough was the "Safety Town" and started the "Slough experiment" there - a period where all manner of new traffic safety measures were installed. Within the space of a year, Slough gained 20 and 40mph limits; signalised crossings in place of zebra crossings; speed checks by radar; new direction signs; and other novel ideas including asking pedestrians to walk on the left of the footpath (or even on the left-hand footpath of the road).

The experiment was rapidly abandoned when it showed that it had caused road accident casualty figures to rise 22%. The file puts this down to motorists and pedestrians alike being confused by the incredible number of unexpected and unknown requirements, signs and signals.

The file is mostly correspondence on the experiment and a substantial number of press cuttings. It contains virtually nothing in the way of photographs, diagrams or plans of what was actually carried out. Despite the file title, it spends precious little time discussing the pedestrian signals and contains no details on what form they took.

Contents of note

  • Press reports on the scheme, jubilant when it started and scathing when it was dropped amid increased accident rates.
  • Diagrams of the main street through Slough (then still the A4) showing the myriad new measures installed on one short street.

People with camera copies

None known.