Tag Archives: crosswalk

Tricky crosswalk question at Manette Bridge

The in basket: Katherine Adams describes a conflict she had with a driver while she was on foot trying to cross the south end of the Manette Bridge.

It’s one of those locations where the crosswalk is in two segments, one shorter than the other, with an island between them. At this location, the short segment crosses a right turn lane and the longer one crosses the other two lanes, which must turn left.

“Today,” Katherine said on June 26, “as I stepped out on the north side of the crosswalk to the island, a car did not see me. The car was turning right off the Manette Bridge. I pulled back.

“The driver said to watch what I was doing, they had the right away with the light. I know they have a yield sign after the crosswalk and I don’t know of a light that refers to the right-turn lane. Possibly a crosswalk sign before the crosswalk for the right turn lane would be helpful. The driver was upset and so was I.”

The out basket: I had to study this spot for a few minutes before concluding that the driver was in the wrong.

The two green lights are arrow lights pointing left. There is no signal for right turners, so the Yield sign on the sidewalk controls the right turn.

As with any crosswalk without a signal controlling traffic, a driver is beholden to stop for a pedestrian in the crosswalk or poised to enter it. Had the driver hit Ms. Adams, he would have been at fault.

One could argue that the red “don’t walk” hand icon that displays across the intersection when the lights are green for left turns onto Washington Avenue means Ms. Adams should not have stepped out. But the button that allows those walking south to ask for a ‘Walk’ sign is on the island. One has to cross in the short stub of the crosswalk to reach it. So that signal doesn’t control the stub crosswalk any more than the green left turn arrows control the right turn.

I ran this past Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police and Gunnar Fridriksson of the city public works engineers and both agreed with me.

 

Bay Shore Drive curve bad place for a crosswalk

The in basket: Gary Garbini of the Golden Tides senior residential complex on Bay Shore Drive in Silverdale raises a concern that I first heard from another resident of that facility years ago.

“We need a way to slow traffic down in front of our place,” he said. “They are all seniors here and they cross in walkers and wheelchairs. Someone is going to get killed out in front of here. It’s kind of a blind corner.”

They cross to reach a small viewpoint “and watch the seagulls and ducks,” he said. He wondered about a crosswalk or speed humps.

The out basket: County Traffic Engineer Jeff Shea says, “We met with the manager of the apartments and Lt. Gese of the sheriff’s department to discuss this issue several years ago.

“One of the challenges there is limited sight distance.  A crosswalk there would have to be placed in what amounts to a hidden curve, decreasing its effectiveness. That is never a safe proposition, regardless of traffic conditions.

“Our compromise, which I agree is a little ‘out of the box’,'” he said,  “was to construct curb ramps and install a marked crosswalk at the stop sign at Bay Street and Washington Avenue. While this may not be as convenient for the residents, it is by far a much better place to cross the road.

“We do not plan any further modification there,” he said. “The Average Daily Traffic would make this road ineligible for the speed hump program.  Our program restricts roads to less than 3,000 vehicles per day.  Shore Drive had 3,258 vehicles per day recorded in 2012.

 

 

Darkness shrouds new Warren Avenue barriers

The in basket: Dale Gilchrist tells me that he was driving on Warren Avenue in Bremerton one night recently when he nearly hit a pedestrian crossing Warren through the median barrier the city built there between Burwell and Sixth streets.

The walker was dressed in dark clothes and there is very little street lighting there, Dale said. It’s very dark.

I made it a point to go there while it was dark, and I saw what Dale meant. There may be only one street light along that stretch of Warren. I asked the city street engineers if more are planned.

A few weeks earlier, I came to wonder when a driver must stop for a pedestrian crossing at those barriers, day or night.

Where there is no barrier, a driver must stop when a pedestrian is within one lane of his own. So on a three-lane street with a center turn lane, the driver must stop when a pedestrian enters the turn lane. If the walker is proceeding away from the driver’s lane, the car must not proceed until the person has stepped out of the turn lane.

I asked Bremerton police Lt. Pete Fisher if the barrier was equivalent to a center turn lane for purposes of deciding when a driver must stop

The out basket: Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers says a recent city traffic study showed little nighttime accident history on Warren at that point.

“The accidents were primarily daytime – very few nighttime accidents,” he said. “I think there were four total for the report period in our traffic study – all vehicle accidents.

“So street lighting was not part of the design effort with the latest improvement. That being said, one issue we have been trying to get resources for is to look at overall street lighting levels citywide to prioritize where we need to be making adjustments. It is on our to-do list, just as we have time to get to it.”

As for my question to Pete Fisher, he said the center island should be treated as a curb, requiring a driver to stop when a pedestrian is standing there, waiting to enter the crosswalk.

Blinking Port Orchard crosswalk gets a new life

The in basket: Pedestrian traffic can be fairly heavy in downtown Port Orchard on Farmer’s Market Saturdays, as it was on June 23, when my wife and I were among those walking around.

I was surprised to see that not only were all the flashing lights that call attention to the crosswalk on Bay Street at Frederick Street lighting, but they were noticeably brighter. You could see them flashing in the daylight from a block away.

I had kind of figured that that crosswalk was being allowed to go dark as the lights burned out. In January 2009,  shortly after the state repaved downtown Port Orchard, Jim Michelinie of Port Orchard described it thusly. “I drive through that intersection at least twice a day, usually in the dark this time of year. The signals are triggered when a pedestrian approaches the crosswalk and flashing lights imbedded in the pavement warn drivers.

“Unfortunately, since the paving project was mostly completed, the signals have become schizophrenic. The lights flash when no pedestrians are present or even near. At other times I’m surprised by pedestrians in the crosswalk when there are no warning lights. Am I the only one who’s noticed the problem?”

I asked City Public Works Director Mark Dorsey if the lighted crosswalk  had gotten a new life.

The out basket: Yes, Mark said, the city had Kitsap County, which maintains Port Orchard’s street electronics under an interlocal agreement, replace the original signals with LED lamps, hence the increased brightness.

It was done a couple of months ago, he said, and the money came from a reserve fund associated with that agreement.

I suspect a lot of pedestrians don’t know what triggers the blinking lights. Many may not even have known they are blinking because they shine outward and not into the crosswalk.   When a person passes between the  pair of white pylons that bracket the ends of the crosswalk, it starts the lights blinking long enough for the person to cross.

If a person enters the crosswalk but walks outside the pylons, he or she doesn’t get the added protection of the blinking lights. Conversely, anything or anyone passing through the pylons but not crossing the street sets off the lights.

Pedestrians and unmarked crosswalks

The in basket: Most drivers know they can be ticketed for not stopping to allow a pedestrian waiting to cross the street at a crosswalk. And I learned years ago that pedestrians have the right of way at any intersection, even where no crosswalk is painted on the pavement. Such areas are called unmarked crosswalks.

But I’d never learned if the compunction to stop for a pedestrian poised to step out onto the road or street at an intersection extends to unmarked crosswalks.

So I asked Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police.

The out basket: The answer is that the rules for yielding to pedestrians are the same at marked and unmarked crosswalks, so a driver who sees a pedestrian on the curb, sidewalk or shoulder about to cross can be cited for not stopping.

Pete sent along a copy of the law on this, which reads in part: “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. For purposes of this section, ‘half of the

roadway’ means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of

travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.”

Like a distressing number of our state’s traffic laws, this one leaves room for confusion by addressing only “lanes,” and saying nothing about pedestrians on the shoulder. Pete says it does include the shoulder or sidewalk.

As a personal observation, when I’m a pedestrian, I try not to seem too intent on crossing a street until I have a good space between cars. I can see behind the driver in the approaching vehicle and often would much rather wait for a break in traffic that I can see coming than force the closest driver to stop for me. It makes for a more leisurely and, I think, safer crossing. But the law doesn’t recognize that reality.

 

 

New Silverdale eateries create pedestrian worries

The in basket: Cathy Briggs, one of my classmates at the AARP senior driving safety course I took in

April, said she has seen a dangerous situation on Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale where Hop Jacks restaurant and Taco Time recently opened.

The parking lot for Hop Jacks fills up and people have been parking on the other side of Bucklin Hill Road and scurrying across it to the new restaurant – some with little kids, she said. One other person in the class said he’d seen it too. There is no crosswalk there. Both thought it has car-pedestrian accident written all over it.

I asked Kitsap County Public Works and Community Development if they see it as a problem.

The out basket: A Community Development employee said the Sandpiper restaurant previously on that site had 59 parking spaces and the county code calls for only 53. “There are 65 off-street parking spaces on the commercial site (now), exceeding the minimum requirements,” the person said.

“I assume that the demand for parking will relax once the novelty of the new restaurant wears off,” the person continued. “The parking standards for restaurants are an estimate for parking demand and have been tested over time.  Sometimes the standard requires too much parking while there is not enough for popular establishments.”

Putting a crosswalk there might make the situation worse, as it conveys a sense of protection that may not really exist. County public works officials advocate using one or the two closest existing crosswalks, both at a traffic signal, which actually does provide protection, though I’ll be surprised if many people will be willing to walk that far.

“There are safer places to cross near there,” said Transportation Engineer Jeff Shea. “Pedestrians should use the marked crosswalks at Silverdale Way/Bucklin Hill or at the signal on Bucklin Hill Road at the entrance to the shopping center.”

 

New OC crosswalk and accesses bring concern

The in basket: Phil Olwell of Bremerton thinks one of the signs recently posted on Broadway Avenue in Bremerton along the expanded Olympic College parking lot between Broadway and Warren Avenue mis-characterizes its crosswalk.

“I think that first sign northbound shouldn’t say ‘raised crosswalk,’ it should say ‘depression in the road,’ ” Phil said.

Another reader who didn’t leave a name called the Sun’s assignment desk to suggest the new parking lot will worsen things for drivers on Warren.

“He said it seems like there are more entrances and exits, and that brings the potential for more congestion in that area,” assignment editor Kim Rubenstein said in passing it along to me.

The out basket: I suppose Phil has a point about the first of the crosswalks one encounters heading north from 13th Street. It actually is kind of a raised crosswalk on its leading edge and a dip in the road on its trailing edge. as it provides a flat place for pedestrians to walk on what otherwise would be a slope.

But I don’t think the sign does any harm. “Raised crosswalk” would get drivers to slow down, which is the goal and would minimize the bump from the depression.

There is one more driveway into and out of the new parking lot, but curbing installed on Warren Avenue’s centerline prevents left turns into and out of it. It seems to me one or more of the pre-existing accesses also got that curbing, making them all right-in-right-out-only accesses, which should minimize congestion of an accidental nature.

Next year when the city extends the right turn lane from Warren to westbound 11th Street, there should be significant easing of the backups on Warren, which certainly are getting worse almost weekly.

Making a pedestrian signal button work

The in basket: “Settle something for me,” asks Sharell Lee. “We’ve all seen pedestrians banging away on

the WALK signal buttons trying to make them change faster. That’s a waste of time, isn’t it?  No matter how many times you push the button, the WALK signal goes according to preset timing. Am I right?”

The out basket: Yes and no. A pedestrian wastes his time pressing the button more than once, but that first press is often necessary to get the signal to allow time for the walker to cross.

Signal programmers use the pedestrian signals to tell them that the corridor’s signals are in coordination, during hours that they are coordinated. During those times, the pedestrian crossing lights will come on for a preset time whether someone has pushed the button or not.

At other times, the signals need someone to push the button to get a pedestrian crossing light.

“Much like an elevator, pushing the button repeatedly does not bring the signal change faster,” says Del Gann, head of Kitsap County’s signal shop.

I think those who push the pedestrian signal button several times do so more out of concern that not every push registers with the signal controller, rather than to make the light change faster.

The county has been addressing that worry by installing buttons that beep and flash when pushed, so the pedestrian knows the signal got the message. Del tells me “About 25 percent of (our) pedestrian push buttons are the style with a audible confirmation. When intersections are upgraded, the new audible confirmation buttons are installed.”

Mickelberry X-walk at Costco proposed

The in basket: Don Hein writes,”Since Goodwill moved in across from Costco, there’s more foot traffic across that road, but there’s no painted crosswalk.  The situation likely will become more acute with the arrival of Trader Joe.

“Is there a plan to paint a crosswalk there?” he asks. “Erect a sign?  Flashing light?”

The out basket: Kitsap County considers this a mid-block location (no cross street there) and crosswalks in such places have fallen into disfavor. Bremerton removed most if not all of its mid-block crosswalks years ago.

And whatever increased foot traffic occurs at the Costco-Goodwill site, it doesn’t rise to the level that would warrant a crosswalk, says county Traffic Engineer sJeff Shea.

“Crosswalks are generally used at areas where heavy pedestrian traffic crosses traffic lanes,” he said. “As it is, there is not a lot of pedestrian traffic that crosses there, and there is no current plan to add a crosswalk.

“Placing a crosswalk mid-block also presents unique challenges.  By definition mid-block crosswalks are not near intersections where motorists expect to encounter pedestrians.  In this particular location, there are three lanes of traffic to cross. The turn lane in the middle adds an extra degree of difficulty because vehicles waiting to turn can block a motorist from seeing pedestrians.

“Assuming that enough pedestrians begin crossing here to warrant a crosswalk, more than just paint is needed to provide a safer crossing,” he said. “Additional enhancements are required for an effective pedestrian crosswalk here. Those can include more street lighting, in-street pedestrian activated lights, crosswalk signals, or other devices that would clearly convey the crossing to motorists.”

Jeff didn’t get into it, but there also has been a growing recognition that crosswalks can increase risky pedestrian behavior when someone on foot comes to believe that vehicles will always stop and grows less watchful while crossing.

One block down Burwell needs help too, says pedestrian

 

 

The in basket: Dennis Van Ieperen, one of those who crosses Burwell Street many days on his way to work at Naval Base Bremerton said the next intersection east of State Street, where a traffic signal has just been installed for pedestrian safety, needs some revisions.

A Navy person was hit and badly hurt there this winter, he noted. It’s the Chester Avenue intersection.

Visibility of pedestrians is reduced there by a tree and shrubbery that fill what is called a bulb-out, a widening of the sidewalk that lessens the distance to cross the street, he said. Worsening the situation is the position of the street light right above the tree and the fact the pedestrian warning sign on that side of Burwell is farther back from the street edge that its counterpart for westbound traffic.

“You are supposed to detect a pedestrian in the dark behind the bushes and that tree,” he said. “Why is it still there?”.

The out basket: Colen Corey, the acting public works operations manager for the city of Bremerton, replies, “I agree that there is some

vegetation there, however there are 3 signs there indicating a crosswalk

that can be seen from a reasonable distance.

“We at public works are very sensitive to the controversial nature of cutting or removing vegetation from the right of way, but we always strive to do the prudent thing. Currently,

some slight pruning of the shrubbery will be performed to enhance

visibility, but there are no plans to add to or reposition existing

signs at this time.”

Colen included the accompanying photo to support his position.