Flashing crosswalk light in Silverdale just to attract attention

The in basket: Jo Clark writes, “Traveling east on Bucklin Hill Road at night I was in a line of cars and saw a flashing light on each side of the road – a new pedestrian crossing at Olson Road.

“The first car (I was probably #3 or #4) stopped and a man quickly crossed the road.  As soon as he crossed, traffic began to move again, including me, but the light continued to flash even after I passed it.

“This seems to be a new traffic signal. I haven’t seen this type anywhere before.  If there is no one trying to cross but the light is still flashing, should the motorist wait till the light goes off, or only wait till the pedestrian has crossed?”

The out basket: These are a fairly new traffic device here, akin to the in-pavement flashers in a crosswalk in downtown Port Orchard, but mounted on a pole. They are designed to call attention to a crosswalk and someone crossing in it.

A driver need stop only if there is a pedestrian in or poised to enter the crosswalk, regardless of the flashing lights. The rule is the same as at any crosswalk.

The county has put them at the two entrances to South Kitsap Regional Park in South Kitsap, on Central Valley Road at Foster Road, in front of Klahowya Secondary School, where the Clear Creek Trail crosses Bucklin Hill Road and just up the hill at Olson. They don’t flash unless a pedestrian pushes a button to activate them, so it’s not surprising Jo hasn’t noticed any of them. The only time I’ve seen one flash is when I pushed the button myself to test one of those at the SK park.

“The lights, officially called Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons, are a newer device that has interim approval from the Federal Highway Administration,” says Jeff Shea, Kitsap County’s traffic engineer. “The lights are devised to give the crossing more attention from motorists. They have no legal standing. The legal requirement is predicated on the pedestrian being in the crosswalk.”

They are set to allow a walker time to travel 3.5 feet per second for the length of the crossing and about three or four seconds are added to either side of the crossing time to ensure pedestrians traffic has stopped for them, Jeff said.

So they will keep flashing well after a pedestrian crosses while running or otherwise making fast tracks.

 

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