The in basket: When I attended the annual confab of electronics vendors and their mostly government buyers in February, I found a spirited competition among the vendors in the area of “rectangular flashers.”
I’d heard them mentioned in a talk by a Seattle engineer, but didn’t know what they were. It didn’t take long after I stepped into the trade show room that I found out.
I talked with representatives from Coral Sales Company and Traffic Safety Supply Co. which offered them. Both used solar powered LED lights.
Each had them mounted at each end of a horizontal bar on a pole below a sign, usually a school zone sign. Each was activated by a button that both blinks and beeps, as required by the Americans with Disabiliti4es Act.
One said its product was better because it flashed brightest 45 degrees from forward, where a motorist would be most likely to be. The other said it had the better one because the flashers pivoted so they could be faced and locked in the optimum direction for each location.
Only a couple weeks later, I noticed that Kitsap County had acquired a pair of them, positioned at each end of a crosswalk on Jackson Avenue at South Kitsap Community Park, near where a young student was hit and killed last year.
I asked Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works if they had any others.
The out basket: Yes, Doug said, they have them in pairs on Newberry Hill Road at Klahowya school, Ridgetop Boulevard and Levin Road at the Clear Creek Trail crossing in Silverdale, Central Valley and Foster roads, and at the other entrance to SK Community Park on Lund Avenue. One is being readied for Bucklin Hill Road at Olson Road, he said.
LED lights and solar power were all the rage at the convention, and Kitsap’s are LED and a mix of hard-wired and solar. Theirs flash straight ahead in three of the four directions and came from Cascade Signals. It was also at the conference, but its booth isn’t one I stopped at.
I asked if solar or hard-wired are preferable, and County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea said, “The hard-wired flashers tend to be cheaper if the power source is readily available. Also, they are fairly maintenance free and require very little electricity due to the infrequent use and the LED technology.
“Solar powered are more expensive to purchase because of the solar panel and battery. They also tend to have a little more maintenance issues because of the panel and battery.
“Also, for the solar applications we don’t have a hard wire between the two devices on each side of the road, so we have to connect them with a radio so they will flash at the same time.
“Needless to say, the solar flashers have to be in a good location to get good sun exposure,” Jeff said.