Cities: Skylines Traffic Lights
Jan 16th, 2020 by Ken Hagler

I’ve been play­ing Cities: Sky­lines lately–it’s a city build­ing game along the lines of the old Sim­C­i­ty series. It’s a very com­pli­cat­ed game and does­n’t have any tuto­ri­als, so I spent some time watch­ing YouTube videos to learn how to play it. I noticed that the peo­ple mak­ing the videos always use a mod called Traf­fic Man­ag­er: Pres­i­dent Edi­tion to keep their traf­fic flow­ing smooth­ly. I decid­ed to play with­out mods until I got a city to the final pop­u­la­tion mile­stone, and in doing so learned why that mod is so popular.

Here’s an illus­tra­tion of a busy inter­sec­tion with a vanil­la Cities: Sky­lines traf­fic light. It’s a good thing there are no col­li­sions in this game, or every­body would be dead. The game’s traf­fic lights have no sep­a­rate left turn lights, so cars are try­ing to turn through oppos­ing traf­fic from the oppo­site direc­tion, and pedes­tri­ans pay no atten­tion to the lights and just cross at will, fur­ther block­ing things up. The lights also can’t be syn­chro­nized with each oth­er, so things like the ubiq­ui­tous dia­mond inter­change with two sets of traf­fic lights don’t work correctly.

I found that to com­pen­sate for this in the un-mod­ded game, busy inter­sec­tions need­ed to have only one light and no pedes­tri­ans, or no lights at all. The first thing I tried was the sin­gle-point urban inter­change, shown above. It most­ly works, although the light phas­es are wrong. There’s a pedes­tri­an bridge just out of sight to the right, keep­ing them from clog­ging it up. I found that to get inter­changes to real­ly work well I had to use some­thing which does­n’t actu­al­ly exist in the real world: the dou­ble crossover merg­ing inter­change. Since fan­cy new inter­changes are gen­er­al­ly made by retro­fitting an exist­ing one, it’s not sur­pris­ing none of these have actu­al­ly been built. They work great in vanil­la Cities: Sky­lines, though, where that’s not a con­cern and avoid­ing lights is vital.


A dou­ble crossover merg­ing inter­change in Cities: Skylines.

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