« Kensignton Sector Plan | Main | Mail Bicycles »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I agree. The stop sign and added notice implies that the onus is on the pedestrian. If there have been so many accidents, why not add a camera to monitor those who fail to yield, and send out tickets

I agree. I drive through here regularly and people treat it like a "parkway," driving fast. All they really need to do to make this safer is to make the light turn red when the button was pushed. Then that new sign might even make sense.

They provide a way of blaming the next pedestrian or cyclist who is hit by a car. "Clearly, he didn't wait for the vehicle to stop, or he wouldn't have been hit."

"And did you see what that pedestrian was wearing? Clearly, he had it coming."

That IS how it's supposed to work, as explained to me by a Delaware DOT official. Granted, Delaware, but they all implement based on the same federal guidance.

At yield to pedestrian crosswalks, cars are supposed to travel at a speed that will allow them to stop if they have to. If a pedestrian is present, that means getting down to 10-15 miles an hour. They are not required to come to a stop if a pedestrian is in the vicinity of the crosswalk. Pedestrians are not allowed to just walk into traffic, but must give vehicles a chance to come to a stop before crossing.

But bigger picture: this is Reason #73 why ambiguous regulations, devices and road designs are the ultimate problem. You can ask 10 people about these kinds of crossngs and you will get 9 different interpretations of what to do. That's why these crosswalks, especially across multi-lane roads are deathtraps. We need simpler obvious designs, not complicated ambiguous designs.

If people don't stop for the crosswalk, even waiting is not going to help in all cases. If I am crossing a 60 foot wide road at walking speed and a car is coming from around the corner at 50mph, I could wait until all cars are stopped or I see no cars, and still get hit by the much-faster car that approaches after I start walking across.

Brendan, your explanation is not consistent with these signs. Under your explanation (which I'm OK with), I can step into the crosswalk if the car is far enough away that it has plenty of time to stop. Under these signs, I have to wait for all cars to clear the road before crossing.

Why do motorists in, e.g., Germany (I have extensive experience driving and walking there) have very little if any problems with stopping on time for pedestrians in crosswalks and here it is the end of the world if they have to do it? Don't get it.

Of course, this is exactly the treatment you would expect to be afforded to second class traffic participants such as bicyclists. This is unworkable.

Clearly the State could implement a low-cost, temporary solution by adding a red flashing light to alert cars to stop once pedestrians hit the cross button. They've probably a spare sitting around the warehouse they could put up in an hour.

But I should commend the photographer for including this nice old 300TD in the picture. Well done!

Write to Dr. Gridlock.

Some excellent points here, especially Brendan's about ambiguity. Why a flashing yellow light? What does that mean? Why not a flashing (or solid) red light? Everyone knows what a red light means.

Connecticut Ave, just below Chevy Chase Circle, has little bins containing flags next to the pedestrian crossings. The peds pick up a flag and cross. It certainly gets attention. What helps even more is the cop stationed there who will ticket people who fail to stop.

It's a catch-22. Cars technically don't have to stop until a pedestrian has stepped into the crosswalk, and at some crosswalks a pedestrian has to risk injury taking that first step. A group in Portland, OR was proposing a new hand signal so that pedestrians could signal an intent to cross. I don't think the effort ever went anywhere.

I e-mailed my comments (and a link to this post) to Eric Olson, my county council member. I just got a response, which I won't quote, since I didn't ask permission to do so. Paraphrasing, he said that while cars are supposed to stop, they don't, so these signs warn pedestrians of that fact while he works to get a red light and/or speed cameras at the crossing.

This is what I think they need.

Push a button and a yellow light starts flashing, then it changes to red and cars stop. Pedestrian crosses with countdown clock. Light turns off and cars go.

I don't understand why there is so much resistance to just using regular traffic lights at crosswalks. Why do we need a special signal when everyone knows what green lights and red lights mean? Even pre-schoolers know.

The only reason I can come up with is that planners feel that pedestrians aren't important enough for "real" signals.

Contrarian raises a good point. In response
1. People get hit all the time when crossing at the traffic lights, with the lights. The recent Metrobus v passenger incident was one such accident
2. The law requires drivers to give way at lights, just as it requires drivers to give way at pedestrian crossings. If drivers won't yield at crosswalks, why would they yield at traffic lights?

I put the problem to lax enforcement and driver ignorance. Baltimore city had a few stings in the inner harbor of drivers not yielding to pedestrians. Lets say it got attention to the issue.

This seems to be a case of a sign being a poor substitute for Enforcement. My question is, "Why is enforcement of existing laws so difficult?" Fines generated should cover the expensive of deploying officers so cost shouldn't be a factor. Is this a question of developing the political will to direct enforcement to take place?

I passed through here today. There was one of those speed signs that flashes your speed (although it read a couple mph low), which usually suggests to motorists that police enforcement is coming soon. Another observation was that there are signs, in day-glo yellow, facing motor traffic that say that it is a state law that vehicles must stop for pedestrians in the cross-walk. I made an effort to stay below the speed limit and look for walkers and bikers, but many people still sped past me. I think a red light is a no-brainer.

If drivers won't yield at crosswalks, why would they yield at traffic lights?

The problem is they don't know they're supposed to yield at crosswalks. According to a DDOT survey, less than half of drivers realize they are supposed to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. As Brendan points out, the problem with a flashing yellow light is it's ambiguous. Normally it's used to signify that cross traffic is present, but you have right of way. Why people who claim to be traffic professionals would take a signal that has a defined meaning, put it in a new context with a new meaning, and think it would work, is beyond me.

On Connecticut avenue by the zoo there is a crosswalk with a pedestrian controlled red light. It works perfectly, it's one of the few pedestrian crossings in the city that works at all. I don't understand why that's not the model.

Life's not getting any better:

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009


 Subscribe in a reader