Tag Archives: crosswalk

What is Highway 303 work accomplishing?

The in basket: Ray Smith writes, “For the last month or so there has been construction on sidewalks at the corners of many of the intersections of Highway 303 (in and near . It appears that the construction is to make for easy access for the handicapped.

“At a number of the sites it appears that there is really no change to the sidewalk, Are the changes that subtle or does the concrete need to be ripped up for access to wiring that controls the crosswalk signal or for some other reason.”

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic region of state highways, says,

“To answer (these) questions, it helps to know that ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines for accessibility are strict. If an existing ramp does not meet standards, which address items such as the slopes of the ramps, locations of junction boxes and locations of pedestrian push buttons and displays, WSDOT must bring those ramps up to standard when we have a construction project that goes through those crosswalks.

“In this case, we have a paving project that will take place next year. To realize cost savings with economies of scale, we decided to bring all the ramps up to standard this year in a separate project prior to the paver. We also included a few ramps on SR 3 and SR 310 (Kitsap Way) that will be affected by a paver later this year.

“Here are two more advantages to doing the ramp work separately: 1) (It) simplifies the two upcoming paving projects, which we expect will mean more efficient paving at a lower cost; and 2) because the ramp work alone is a smaller construction project than a combined ramp/paving project would be, it provides a chance for smaller contracting firms to bid on the ramp project as a prime contractor,” she said.

The project  is online at  http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr3/bremertonadaimprove/ Click on the ‘when and where’ link in the status box, and you’ll see the progress to date, Claudia said.

City pedestrian improvements this year all on the west side

The in basket: Around the middle of last year, an e-mailer advocated some pedestrian improvements at the Bremerton intersection of Sheridan and Pine roads. There is a lot of foot traffic there and its shortcomings for those on foot include no sidewalk on either side of Pine uphill from the intersection.

I happened to be there a lot last year, on my way to and from my late mother’s assisted living facility and can attest to the large amount of foot traffic on Pine near Sheridan.

The city of Bremerton has a lot of pedestrian improvements to be paid for with state and regional council grants scheduled this year, so I asked if Pine and Sheridan might be included.

The out basket: No, says the city of Bremerton engineering staff.

The work to be done with grants involves 11 intersections, but all are on the west side of town.

They are:

– Kitsap Way’s intersections with Harlow Drive near Kitsap Lake and at 11th Street. The wide Harlow Drive crossing will get a pedestrian refuge island half-way across.

– Eleventh Street’s intersections with High Avenue and the portion of Montgomery Avenue that remains open to auto traffic

– Highway 304 at First Street and Callow Avenue.

– Sixth Street’s intersections with High Avenue and  Callow Avenue.

– Burwell Street’s intersections with Chester, Montgomery, High and Warren avenues.

The work includes curb cuts for disabled access and countdown pedestrian signals with audible push buttons where there are existing signals, and pedestrian-activated rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFBs) on the street edges and the countdown lights where there aren’t.

Two of the intersections, Sixth and High and Burwell and Chester will get new pedestrian-activated signals that will stop vehicle traffic. They are to be coordinated with existing signals on either side of the crossings to avoid forcing drivers to stop at a red light more than once while passing through, city staff says.

Sidewalk improvements will be included in some of the work.

Is jaywalking still illegal?

The in basket: Melissa Carter Tangen asks a question I’m surprised hasn’t been asked before during the 19 years of the Road Warrior column. Is there still such a thing as jaywalking?

“The other day I was driving along Kitsap Mall Boulevard,” Melissa said, “and a man was standing at the corner of Poplars Road, with the intent to cross towards the mall. This is not a crosswalk and there are no signs alerting drivers that pedestrians may be crossing.

“A deputy was ahead of me in the left lane, I was in the lane closest to the curb, and he had stopped in middle of the road to apparently allow the pedestrian to cross.  This was unknown to me at the time.

“I slowed down, looked around to see if there was anything in middle of the road that was preventing the deputy from driving and saw nothing so I continued slowly forward.  The deputy then caught up with me, lights flashing, and warned me that pedestrians always have the right of way (agreed), and if there is any intent to cross the road, no matter where they are, that the drivers must stop.

“Obviously I understand if there is a person in the road crossing, I am going to stop.  However if they are standing on the curb planning to cross when the traffic is gone and they are not near a crosswalk, am I really supposed to just stop in middle of the road so they can perform, in all intents and purposes, a ‘jaywalk’?

“I could not find this rule anywhere in researching online, and in my opinion this is very dangerous because the drivers are not expecting to have to stop in middle of a stretch of road for a pedestrian who does not wish to walk to a crosswalk.  Can you enlighten me as to whether this is the law or just a common courtesy that may be done for a pedestrian?”

The out basket: Actually, the pedestrian Melissa describes was in a crosswalk, an unmarked one, which are considered to exist at any intersection of public roads that doesn’t have the painted variety.

Jaywalking does exist but, like California stops, the law doesn’t use the term. It says that a pedestrian cannot legally cross in the middle of a block with traffic signals at adjacent intersections. Kitsap Mall Boulevard’s intersections with Silverdale Way and Northwest Plaza Road aren’t adjacent, because Poplars lies between them and has no traffic signals. Plaza and Randall Way, the next street to the north, have no intervening intersections, so would be considered to be adjacent and crossing at mid-block there would be illegal.

Entrances to business parking areas are not legally intersections.

It’s a $56 fine.

Adjacent intersections with signals are uncommon in Kitsap County, and therefore, so is jaywalking

Frankly, it’s a tough call on whether to stop for a pedestrian waiting at the edge of a four- or five-lane street at an unmarked crosswalk, legally required or not. Drivers may not be able to see the walker because some car will always be stopped first, and may shield the pedestrian from the view of those in the other lane. If you don’t properly interpret why the other car is stopped, it seems a situation where the pedestrian is in greater danger, not less.

But the law says what it says, and Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s department, puts it this way.

“We recognize that the location where Poplars Avenue joins Kitsap Mall Boulevard is not the most optimum in that the intersection is on a curve.  This intersection does not contain a marked crosswalk that crosses the five lanes of Kitsap Mall Boulevard.

” A pedestrian who wishes to cross Kitsap Mall Boulevard, at this intersection, is required to wait until approaching traffic is clear and it is safe to proceed across the roadway, per RCW 46.61.240(1).”

If you want to read an RCW, they are online at http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/

“If a pedestrian has stepped off of the curb and is walking across a marked or unmarked crosswalk,” Scott said, “approaching traffic must stop and yield to the pedestrian when the pedestrian is within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling.  Essentially, if the pedestrian is crossing in front of them, drivers need to wait until the pedestrian has reached the centerline or center turn lane before proceeding. If the pedestrian is crossing from the opposite side, drivers must stop and yield once the pedestrian arrives at the roadway centerline or center turn lane.  RCW 46.61.235(1).

“Whenever a vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk, or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.  RCW 46.61.235(4). This is the statute that applies to the situation presented by Ms.Tangen.

“Without speaking with the deputy mentioned in Ms. Tangen’s e-mail,” Scott continued, “I don’t have the total story as to why the deputy stopped to permit the pedestrian to cross at that intersection.  The law doesn’t require a driver to stop for a pedestrian waiting on the sidewalk at an unmarked intersection to cross the street. It’s the pedestrian’s responsibility to yield to approaching traffic and proceed across the intersection when it’s safe to do so.

“Jaywalking: yes, in those instances where a pedestrian would be crossing the roadway between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation.  This is more applicable to urban settings than to most situations in unincorporated Kitsap County, as there may be significant distance between adjacent intersections with traffic control signals.

“Pedestrian safety recommendation: Take the extra time and steps to walk to the nearest signal-controlled intersection. It doesn’t take that much time.  It’s inherently much safer than attempting to cross five lanes of traffic where drivers are not expecting a pedestrian to cross and visibility of the pedestrian (by drivers) may be hampered.  Go with the signal… it’s in your favor!”

Stream of departing shipyard pedestrians make drivers sweat

The in basket: Elissa Torgeson of Bremerton writes, “We really need a crosswalk light

Steady pedestrian traffic out of the Bremerton shipyard keeps ferry traffic from proceeding
Steady pedestrian traffic out of the Bremerton shipyard keeps ferry traffic from proceeding

at the corner of 1st and Pacific (at the shipyard gate) for when the workers are leaving. It is pretty much impossible to get a car through there as the workers won’t stop at all and it’s basically a constant stream of pedestrian traffic.

“I am getting dropped off at 4pm for the 4:20pm ferry to Seattle and it’s a real problem,” she said.

The out basket: I watched this spot from 3:40 to 4:20 one Thursday this month and the situation she describes certainly raised the anxiety level for drivers trying to get to the ferry around 4 p.m. But while it’s always risky to use one day’s observation to generalize about a traffic situation, what I saw didn’t justify paying for a pedestrian light, by which I assume Elissa means a walk-don’t walk light with the requisite overhead signal heads to stop cars during the walk cycle.

It would have the advantage of letting drivers know they WILL get an opportunity to get to the toll booths before the ferry leaves. I saw one driver pull out of line and around the car stopped at the crosswalk in frustration when the line of vehicles extended back to Burwell. Some drivers seemed to be applying crosswalk law that says you have to have a lane of travel between you and the pedestrian before you can proceed, a practical impossibility at that hour.

Nonetheless, the flow of pedestrians had all but stopped by 4:15. no cars were backed up at either the crosswalk or the toll booths then and the only drivers uncertain of getting on the boat were the  late arrivals you see at any ferry departure.

Traffic signals are expensive and the city is struggling to stretch its street dollars as it is.

Since I assume Elissa’s ride is in the single lane that continues around without going to the toll booths, I would think her solution would be to get out at the crosswalk and walk from there. It’s not much farther from there to the ferry terminal than designated passenger drop-off locations.

Just to make sure the city wasn’t in the middle of something to address this, I asked. Street Engineer Tom Knuckey said only, “We’re always evaluating situations such as this and are interested in practical ideas to improve safety and efficiency.  The rush hour here definitely makes things more difficult.”

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.


Pedestrians buttons at 11th and Warren questioned

The in basket: Gary Reed writes with a question about the revamped intersection of 11th Street and Warren Avenue in Bremerton.

“Why are the “‘Push to Cross’ buttons placed so close to the curb? Seems like if a wheelchair user didn’t set the chairs brakes correctly before trying to use the buttons, they could roll out into traffic. Or, if a person had a couple of rambunctious children so close to the curb, they could easily fall into traffic.

“Why weren’t the buttons located on the light poles, away from the traffic?  I have never seen the lights change (anywhere) so fast a person couldn’t get to the curb from the light pole before the lights changed.”

The out basket: As with most things street engineers do, they must locate pedestrians signal buttons in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a federal publication.

Gunnar Fridriksson, Bremerton’s managing street engineer, sent me the relevant parts of that manual.

“The provisions in this section,” it says, “place pedestrian pushbuttons within easy reach of pedestrians who are intending to cross each crosswalk and make it obvious which pushbutton is associated with each crosswalk.

“If pedestrian pushbuttons are used, they should be capable of easy activation and conveniently located near each end of the crosswalks. Pedestrian pushbuttons should be located to meet all of the following criteria:

A.    Unobstructed and adjacent to a level all-weather surface to provide access from a wheelchair;

B.    Where there is an all-weather surface, a wheelchair accessible route from the pushbutton to the ramp;

C.    Between the edge of the crosswalk line (extended) farthest from the center of the intersection and the side of a curb ramp (if present), but not greater than 5 feet from said crosswalk line;

D.   Between 1.5 and 6 feet from the edge of the curb, shoulder, or pavement;

E.    With the face of the pushbutton parallel to the crosswalk to be used; and

F.    At a mounting height of approximately 3.5 feet, but no more than 4 feet, above the sidewalk.”

I haven’t measured the buttons’ locations relative to the curb and crosswalk, but must assume they comply with these rules, including C., whatever it means.

Ridgetop/Uhinck crosswalk being relocated in Silverdale

The in basket: Patrick Burch of Silverdale e-mailed to say, “The crosswalk on Ridgetop Boulevard at Sid Uhinck has been removed, leaving a VERY dangerous situation to cross Ridgetop.  I challenge anyone traveling southwest on Ridgetop to safely AND legally cross Ridgetop without walking all the way down to Myhre Road.

“The crosswalk made easy access to the bus stop and entrance to Clear Creek Trails. If you were to cross Ridgetop at the Waaga Way light, you are not allowed to continue southwest on Ridgetop because there is a no crossing sign.  If you were to illegally cross there, you would have to take your life in your hands and dodge cars exiting Waaga Way onto Ridgetop.

“Walking all the way down to Myhre is totally unacceptable and will not be made by many individuals. Pedestrians will be forced to play dodge ball with the cars.

“Until a new permanent crosswalk is installed after the stoplight is finally in place, the crosswalk should be restored.  Help us with this unsafe condition.”

Back last winter, while the crosswalk was still there, Ronine Riggins proposed making lane changes approaching that crosswalk illegal, lest a driver looking back to see if it were clear for a lane change might not see a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

The out basket: Jacques Dean, the county’s construction manager, says, “The crosswalk will be replaced at a location near the west side SR 303 off/on ramp.  The old crossing was removed, as were the sidewalk ramps that existed on both sides of the crossing.

“The contractor has tentatively scheduled placement of new crosswalk markings for next week, but the work is weather dependent.  The plastic markings have to be placed when the pavement is relatively dry.”

The new location should eliminate the danger Ronine saw.

Clearing up a crosswalk rule

The in basket: The proper response by a driver to a pedestrian trying to cross the street is a subject that I’ve pondered for many a year.

The fact that the law requires something of a driver that I, when a pedestrian, don’t necessarily want helped propel my curiosity.

By that I mean that quite often I prefer to wait for a car to pass before starting across, because if there are no cars behind that one, I can cross at leisure, rather than hurrying across to minimize the driver’s delay. But the law usually requires him or her to stop if I’m poised at the curb.

In time, I have come to know that any intersection is a crosswalk, whether striped as one or not, and a driver is required to stop for anyone walking across the street.

But as I watched people stepping into a crosswalk on the other side of a multi-lane road or street, I came to wonder if I have to stop immediately.

The law says, “The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning.”

So on a three- or four-lane street or road, is it legal to wait until the pedestrian steps into the lane closest to the one I’m in. Can I proceed even though the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, but more than a lane away from mine?

The out basket: I asked Police Chief Geoff Marti in Port Orchard, Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police and Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here, and they agree that that is the logical meaning of the law.

So when I approach that crosswalk in downtown Port Orchard with the pedestrian activated flashing lights in the crosswalk, for example, and the walker is on the opposite curb, can I proceed until he or she is stepping into the center lane, I asked Geoff.

“Yes, that would be my interpretation,:” he replied.

The same is true if the pedestrian has crossed in front of you from your side of the street. You must wait only until he or she is leaving the intervening lane before proceeding.

Pete and Russ concurred.

In real life, of course, not stopping before you legally have to may intimidate a pedestrian into not starting across, especially if there is no protective island in the middle. As a matter of consideration, it still might be best to stop when the walker enters the street, no matter now wide, but you don’t have to if there is one or more lanes between you.

Kitsap Lake crosswalk needs more than CPA is offering, says city

The in basket: Christopher Mutchler, a Kitsap Lake native who has established his accounting business there, says there is a serious need for a crosswalk across Kitsap Way in their business district.

“Growing up, there was a crosswalk between Bill’s Inn (the Garage) and the lake side of

Kitsap Way,” he said, “Some time later, the crosswalk was moved to between Fire One Protection and Novak Gutters.
“Now, no crosswalk.  When I researched locating here last December, I was informed by the city that nearly 10,000 cars pass this direction each day. Why no crosswalk now?

“I can purchase two solar powered, radio-controlled signs

from Tapco for $5,500.  I can raise the money myself and Tapco says they can be installed in a few hours.  Any reason why I could not create ‘Christopher’s Crosswalk?'”

He said he got the impression from the mayor in a July meeting with business owners at Kitsap Lake that it could be done, but he’s heard nothing since.

The out basket: The city very much appreciates the offer, says Street Engineer Gunnar Fridriksson, but must turn it down.

“My concern,” he said, “would be with the width of the roadway, pedestrians would get a false sense of security and some (driver) not paying attention would fail to notice the flashers on the side of the road. We really need a full system including a flasher and signage at the center of the roadway in the refuge island.”

And such a full system is on the drawing board. “This crossing is one of three projects the city council selected last year for us to concentrate on finding funding to complete,” Gunnar said. “We are looking at a system that has a flasher in the center along with a median island, and would be hardwire-connected instead of solar panels.”

As with plans to upgrade the crosswalk at First Street and Highway 304, discussed in a recent Road Warrior column, plans for the Kitsap Lake crosswalk are detailed in what’s called the Non-Motorized Plan.

It shows the crossing at the north side of the Harlow Drive intersection, and calls for pedestrian activated signage and a raised area half-way across for a pedestrian refuge. It appears to also involve sidewalks with more definitive breaks for driveways.

When, of course, depends on acquiring money to get it done.

First Street crosswalk hard to see

The in basket: John Jurgens writes, “Can you look into the crosswalk on the north end of the Gateway right near the Chinese restaurant (at First Street and Highway 304 in Bremerton)?

“I drive a worker-driver bus in every work day and coming from the south is a challenge in bad weather,” John said. “The road sweeps a bit to the left just before the crosswalk so we don’t have a clear view of anyone crossing to the east until we are almost at the crosswalk. This morning someone was trying to cross west and I almost did not see her.

“Is there any way the city could install some sort of crossing signal to warn drivers coming from the south that someone is waiting to cross?”

He also suggests a change to discourage left turns onto First Street at the intersection, which requires driving into oncoming northbound traffic lanes briefly.

“While it is not an issue now because the Montgomery Gate (to the shipyard) is closed, I have seen cars and even a tractor-trailer sitting in the median area southbound waiting to turn left onto First Street. If the median was just a bit longer or even squared off, it might discourage these left turns.

The out basket: There is a plan completed for addressing those issues, created in 2007 and called the Non-Motorized Plan, providing improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians.

It calls for what’s called a “half-signal” that pedestrians and bicyclists can activate to stop traffic on the arterial highway long enough for them to cross. There would be no signal for First Street traffic, which can’t cross there anyway.

Seattle has a bunch of them and has a description of them you can access by asking Google for “half-signal.”

As for the median barrier, the plan calls for two new gaps in it for bikes to cross the highway, but makes no mention of lengthening it to discourage risky left turns.

But since there is no funding for the plan’s recommended changes at present, there is time for those who would like to see it done to campaign for its being added to the project, if and when it’s done.