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Old 10-09-2019, 04:52 PM
nelliebly is offline
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Stoplight/Walk signal question. Need answer fast-ish.


Here's the situation: There's a T intersection where a street (A) adjoining a shopping mall meets a very busy road (B). On the green light, drivers on A can only turn left or right. It's a short light, as otherwise traffic on B would back up for blocks. The walk light for pedestrians crossing B coincides with the green light for drivers turning left onto B.

Since it's a short green light for A, drivers are in a hurry, and I've seen pedestrians almost hit there before. Yesterday it was me, and the driver, who kept lurching forward as if to teach me a lesson, even yelled at me, though I was crossing with the walk signal. I guess he couldn't believe pedestrians would be told to cross the path of oncoming traffic. If pedestrians wait for all the drivers turning left to do so, we miss the WALK signal completely.

I called the city this morning and was told drivers must yield to pedestrians there. (Gee, no kidding.) But I was transferred to the guy in charge of such things and left a VM. I turn to you, Dopers. Any suggestions I can make to the city streets guy when he calls back?

A dedicated walk signal with traffic stopped both ways would be safest for pedestrians, right? But it traffic stopped for 30 seconds would back up traffic on B down to the next stoplight, as well as stack up too many drivers on A to get through the intersection in one or even two cycles.

There's no place for a cop car to sit to catch drivers failing to yield. There's a long stretch of public park perpendicular to B; hence the T intersection, and no drives or cross-streets on the other side of B.

Because I can't drive due to sucky vision (but I can see the orange or white Don't walk/walk signals, and there's an audio signal ["Walk Light on [B] is on!"] as well), and because my route to the grocery store requires I cross there, I'm kind of stuck. But I'm afraid to cross there, and I'm worried someone else will get hurt.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:10 PM
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Are there crosswalks across B on both sides of the A intersection? Is the light green for left and right turns at the same time? Are both walk signs Walk at the same time?
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:10 PM
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A ped-only light is nicest for pedestrians, but it's probably not feasible given the traffic. Short of a pedestrian bridge, I'd advocate for a large sign next to the traffic signal saying something like "Vehicles Must Yield to Peds in Crosswalk." It hopefully helps drivers notice the pedestrians and might cut down on the yelling.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:11 PM
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The best solution might be to make the intersection for drivers exiting A right-turn-only into B, and to allow pedestrians to cross B only on the other (left) side of A. That creates a safer dedicated walk signal for pedestrians to cross B on the left side of A, and smooth flow for drivers to turn right out of A during the short green without being interrupted by pedestrians.

The problem, of course, is how difficult that makes things for drivers exiting A who want to head ultimately in the opposite direction. The would depend on the surrounding road layout, and whether there are other exits from the mall. But right-turn-only intersections are common where a smaller road enters a large road with a median strip, so it's not like it would be difficult for drivers to grasp the concept.

Last edited by Riemann; 10-09-2019 at 05:16 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:14 PM
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Suggest that the left turn from A not get a green until the Walk signal becomes steady Don't Walk. That would extend the green to street A when there are pedestrians, but I suspect there usually aren't pedestrians at that crosswalk. So it usually wouldn't hamper traffic that much.

Normally, I would suggest a roundabout to solve intersection problems, but it sounds like there's too much traffic, especially on one street, for that to be a solution. There are times when roundabouts are not the solution, despite what their enthusiasts think, and this is probably one of them.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riemann View Post
The best solution might be to make the intersection for drivers exiting A right-turn-only into B, and to allow pedestrians to cross B only on the other (left) side of A. That creates a safer dedicated walk signal for pedestrians to cross B on the left side of A, and smooth flow for drivers to turn right out of A during the short green without being interrupted by pedestrians.
Alternatively, widen A at the intersection, use the added space to put a hard island down the middle, and effectively have turns from A onto B handled through a sort of Y intersection. Let pedestrians cross down the middle.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Are there crosswalks across B on both sides of the A intersection? Is the light green for left and right turns at the same time? Are both walk signs Walk at the same time?
One crosswalk only. Light is green for both left and right turns at the same time.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:28 PM
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I can always count on Dopers! If I ever hear back from the guy, I'll definitely use these. I especially like dtilque's solution. I may suggest alternatively that the city move the crosswalk to the other side of A, as suggested. There's no sidewalk running along A on that side, though, so I think it'd mean either putting one in or putting a crosswalk across A to the sidewalk side, probably the latter. I'd like to also make A No Right Turns on Red in that case--those drivers are also lined up and in a hurry--but I don't think that'd fly.


There is one other mall exit onto B a block down from A, but there's no light there, so few drivers use it, as B is so busy, you can't make a left and can seldom make a right. The streets here weren't built to handle the population explosion my city is seeing.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:47 PM
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There are several signaled intersections here that have warning signs that say "TURNING VEHICLES YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS". Signs like that might not guarantee you don't get ran over but they might help a little.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:52 PM
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Why not suggest that the walk signal be on-demand?
i.e. - in normal operation, there is no walk signal at all. When the button is pushed, pedestrians get a timed walk signal, and cars don't get a green light until it's finished.
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:42 PM
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Cross the street when it's clear. Problem solved.

Walk signals can get you killed.

Last edited by Marion Morrison; 10-09-2019 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:02 PM
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Cross the street when it's clear. Problem solved.
OK, now we need a solution for the problem of it taking three hours to walk to the grocery store.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:28 PM
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The best, but boring, solution for what to say to the dude is something along the lines of

- This is a big problem, and is likely to get someone hit by a car
- It's the sort of problem traffic engineers can solve
- You probably employ some traffic engineers
- Go to it!

What the actual best solution is will depend on a lot of factors about the dynamics of how people use the intersection at different times of day. For instance, are there nearly always pedestrians waiting to cross? If so, a possible solution (which would be annoying to all the pedestrians, but increase throughput) could be a dedicated "pedestrians cross everywhere" that operates every two traffic cycles - this takes advantage of the fact that unlike cars, pedestrians can walk in parallel, so you use the extra wait time to "gather up" a bunch more people to cross - it's more efficient for the cars to wait for five people to cross at one time than one each every 60 seconds. Doesn't work if there aren't sufficient pedestrians to make a bunch in a short-enough period of time.

There's also "alternate left and right" - one cycle the T traffic can turn right and pedestrians can walk on the left, the next cycle it's the other way round. That works ok if the T-street has two lanes out - does it?
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:54 PM
nelliebly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marion Morrison View Post
Cross the street when it's clear. Problem solved.

Walk signals can get you killed.
Great idea. All I'd have to do is walk to the grocery store at 2 a.m.. Oh, wait, it's closed then. Street B is ALWAYS busy in daylight hours. There are no sufficient gaps in traffic for crossing, even at a lope.

I agree with you on the second sentence, though, judging from yesterday's experience.
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Why not suggest that the walk signal be on-demand?
i.e. - in normal operation, there is no walk signal at all. When the button is pushed, pedestrians get a timed walk signal, and cars don't get a green light until it's finished.
I think that's what dtilque suggested, and I like that solution. I'll definitely inquire about that possibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aspidistra View Post
The best, but boring, solution for what to say to the dude is something along the lines of

- This is a big problem, and is likely to get someone hit by a car
- It's the sort of problem traffic engineers can solve
- You probably employ some traffic engineers
- Go to it!

What the actual best solution is will depend on a lot of factors about the dynamics of how people use the intersection at different times of day. For instance, are there nearly always pedestrians waiting to cross? If so, a possible solution (which would be annoying to all the pedestrians, but increase throughput) could be a dedicated "pedestrians cross everywhere" that operates every two traffic cycles - this takes advantage of the fact that unlike cars, pedestrians can walk in parallel, so you use the extra wait time to "gather up" a bunch more people to cross - it's more efficient for the cars to wait for five people to cross at one time than one each every 60 seconds. Doesn't work if there aren't sufficient pedestrians to make a bunch in a short-enough period of time.

There's also "alternate left and right" - one cycle the T traffic can turn right and pedestrians can walk on the left, the next cycle it's the other way round. That works ok if the T-street has two lanes out - does it?
I think this guy IS a traffic engineer, so hopefully he'll take it under advisement. I'd think they'd be worried about pedestrian injuries, but maybe not.

There are not always pedestrians waiting to cross. In my experience, there are more between when schools get out and dinner time, probably because the park adjacent to Street B has a skate park. I really worry about those kids. The rest of the time, there are few pedestrians, I think because Street A is basically used to get into the mall. Most people drive to the mall.

Street A has two lanes each direction, but I'm not sure I understand your proposal. How would a pedestrian trying to cross Street B know if she should be at the left crosswalk or the right one?
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Old 10-09-2019, 10:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Why not suggest that the walk signal be on-demand?
i.e. - in normal operation, there is no walk signal at all. When the button is pushed, pedestrians get a timed walk signal, and cars don't get a green light until it's finished.
This is essentially what I said, but I assumed there was a button. Pretty much all the crosswalks around here have a button. AFAIK, the only ones that don't are downtown Portland where the streets are a one-way grid and the traffic lights run purely on timers.
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