Traffic Count: Hospital Fields Road

As regular users are no doubt aware, traffic exiting Hospital Fields Road or Barracks Lane gets an outrageously raw deal at the traffic lights on the Fulford Road intersection. This short phase is putting both cyclists and pedestrians in great danger.

On Wednesday 6th November 5 volunteers from the cycle campaign braved the cold morning and performed a traffic count from 8am to 9am at the junction of Hospital fields road with Fulford Road. We were interested in the number of people that moved through this junction and the efficiencies of the light timings in terms of supporting fluxes of people. We have heard numerous complaints from cyclists about the aggressively set timings on this junction as well as the numerous reports of dangerous incidents due to cars running the red lights when emerging from Hospital fields road.

Our measurements reveal that the green light phase for Fulford Road is approximately ten times longer than the phase for Hospital Fields Road or Barracks Lane. And yet, in terms of the number of people moving along each route, we show that Fulford Road (in the direction of town) only managed to move just over twice as many people as Hospital Fields Road.

We observed vehicles routinely jumping the red light in order to exit Hospital Fields Road, resulting in vehicles ploughing through the green pedestrian light phase. Meanwhile, cyclists waiting in the advanced stop box at the top of Hospital Fields Road are intimidated by impatient vehicles (often HGVs) revving their engines and pressurising cyclists to go fast when the lights change to green. The short phase results in impatient behaviour from all users and leaves no room for errors; should a cyclists happen to fall off their cycle while setting off they would be at real risk of being mowed down by vehicles approaching from behind.

Coming in the other direction the short light phase from Barracks Lane often leaves cyclists still manoeuvring across Fulford Road when Fulford Road traffic has been given the green light. For a young child or less-able cyclist there is simply not enough time to react to the lights, gain their balance and pedal across the junction before the lights change. We outline our full findings and share our data below.

We collected data on the number of cycles and vehicles and their approximate type and occupancy which approached the Junction from Hospital Fields Road heading Eastbound and on Fulford Road heading Northbound. We also counted the number of cycles and cars which were able to move through the junction on phases of the lights for a fixed number of phases. At the time of this survey these were the dominant fluxes of people for both respective directions.

The raw data counts for these are as follows

VehiclesCyclesCars (Single Occupancy)Cars (Multi Occupancy)M.bikesHGVsBuses
Travelling Fulford Road, Northbound603081182128
TravellingHospital Fields Road, Eastbound19473101120
PeopleBy CycleBy Motor Vehicle
Travelling Fulford Road, Northbound60645*
Travelling Hospital Fields Road, Eastbound194111*

*we assumed multiple occupancy cars to have 2.5 people (bringing it inline with DfT mean occupancy rates for commuter traffic) and buses 3.5. This latter is an approximation from the 7 assumed in DFT guidelines due to our counters reporting that many buses were returning to the depot.

We note immediately at the high demand from all transport forms from hospital fields road and note that cyclists outnumber vehicle bound people in a ratio of almost 2:1. We also note the high proportion of single occupancy vehicles – 80%. On this simple count, in terms of maximising relative people movement through the junction, the timings should roughly favour Fulford road in a ratio of around 7:3.

To investigate this in more detail our counters collected data on the number of cyclists and vehicles as well as their type, moving through the junction during particular phases. We also timed the phases so that an average flux of people (in terms of people per minute) can be computed. We timed the lights and determined that East bound traffic was permitted 7 seconds and northbound traffic was permitted 70 seconds. This means that the actual phasing of the lights favours Fulford road in a ratio of approximately 10:1.

Average people per phaseCyclesCars (Single Occupancy)Cars (Multi Occupancy)M.bikesHGVsBuses
Travelling Fulford Road, Northbound1.8616.
TravellingHospital Fields Road, Eastbound6.302.220.760.040.720
Flux (people per minute)By CycleBy Motor Vehicle
Travelling Fulford Road, Northbound1.6027.8
Travelling Hospital Fields Road, Eastbound54.035.5

This data reveals that the flux of cyclists eastbound is currently the dominant flux and the total flux of people eastbound exceed that on Fulford Road by a factor of three. Our counters also noted, and photographed, a large number of vehicles that jumped the lights heading eastbound in order to try and “beat” this phase. As the pedestrian phase on Fulford road follow this phase this represent a considerable danger to pedestrians due to the aggressive phasing on these lights in favour of Fulford road.

We conclude that the light phases for Hospital Roads need to be upwardly revised by around a factor of two. This would equalise the fluxes of the dominant modes of transport in either direction. We also note the dominance of cycles as the primary use mode on Hospital Fields road and that this suggests improvement of cycle provision on this road should be brought forward as a priority.

2 thoughts on “Traffic Count: Hospital Fields Road

  1. thanks for this additional observation John – that is interesting to hear and something that we’ll also mention to the transport officer at the council.


  2. Hi,

    This is great work there. I’ve often found that if you approach the junction at night when there is less traffic it senses you cycling down Hospital Fields Road and changes the lights green when you are some distance from the junction and then changes them back to red before you can get to the junction.



    York Cyc


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