Traffic Light Tree – London, England - Atlas Obscura

Traffic Light Tree

A student driver's nightmare. 


Once located in the junctions of Westferry Road, Heron Quay Bank and Marsh Wall, this traffic light mutation can now be found on a traffic island just outside the main gate to BIllingsgate Market.

Designed by French sculptor Pierre Vivant in 1998, the eight-metre-tall stoplight was originally installed on the site of a plane tree that suffered and died from air pollution. Its changing patterns are meant to reflect the “never-ending rhythm of the surrounding domestic, financial and commercial activities.” The initial idea was to make the London Stock Exchange’s activities trigger the lights, but it was scrapped as it cost too much to put into practice.

The tall “Traffic Light Tree” changes its 75 sets of lights in a random order, much to the confusion of unprepared drivers. Indeed, when Saga Motor Insurance surveyed British motorists on the best and worst roundabouts in the country in 2005, the one containing the “Tree” naturally came up high on the ranking.

Know Before You Go

The light can be seen at Billingsgate Market, at Trafalgar Way. From the Underground, take the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, less than a 20 minute walk. When you get outside, turn right to walk up the stairs to the street. Turn right and keep walking down the same street as it curves around and goes over some water. The tree will be at the end in the middle of a roundabout across from the market. Using the term 'Traffic Light Tree' on Google Maps will help direct you to the location, as Canary Wharf and The Docklands can be a difficult place to navigate.

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