Tag Archives: flashing light

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.

 

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.

School zone speed flashers coming to Sedgwick

 

The in basket: A man who asks anonymity lest he “jeopardize a case I have pending on this subject” wonders how he can learn how many school zone speeding tickets have been written to drivers caught in front of Sedgwick Junior High on Sedgwick Road in South Kitsap. 

He saw a sheriff’s deputy and state trooper stopping drivers for speeding there on Feb. 23. 

He also said he can’t believe that that school zone doesn’t have the flashing lights to warn drivers when the 20 mph speed limit is in effect, such as those he sees at other schools. “Flashing lights are definitely the answer to this situation,” he said. “I’m concerned that the lack of good signage and ability to see children within this more-than-quarter-mile span of highway is causing more citations than necessary, as well as endangering the lives of the kids since the speed limit during off-school hours is 45 mph. 

“I suspect the number will be increasing due to budget shortfalls and the inability of drivers to see children before reaching the crosswalk,” he said.

The out basket: School officials are hopeful that flashing lights to alert drivers to the speed limit reduction will be in place this fall. 

Sedgwick Principal Jay Villars said they don’t have a lot of kids who walk to school, but due to the ferry traffic that races past, he contacted state Sen. Derek Kilmer about getting the flashing lights. Sedgwick is a rare school located on a state highway, so getting the lights there was a more involved process and involved different money sources than the others.

Kilmer evidently stepped in and Villars and school district Director of Facilities Tom O’Brien both expect money to be made available for the lights this summer, allowing their installation by November or December. 

I wasn’t very hopeful about getting the number of tickets written there, as I’ve never had any luck pinning down such statistics in the past. But Deputy Scott Wilson of the county sheriffs office had some figures.

From  Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2008, Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies wrote 52 traffic tickets for violation of RCW 46.61.440, speeding in a school zone, at various locations on Sedgwick Road in the vicinity of John Sedgwick Junior High School, he said.  

Figures for this year aren’t available yet, he said.

He and Trooper Krista Hedstrom the local State Patrol said they are unaware of any  emphasis patrols in that location. 

As I expected, both officers took the opportunity to address the common belief that budgetary needs drive speed enforcement. 

Scott said, “As you know, we’ve been down this road before, several times. However, we also realize that there is a percentage of the population who strongly believe this no matter what we do or say.  It is an inaccurate statement and belief.

“Counties and municipalities receive approximately 36 cents of every dollar that a driver is fined as a result of a traffic infraction. The other 64 cents goes to Olympia.  “This money does not go into a fund for the sheriff’s office, rather it goes into the county’s general fund. Monies received from traffic infractions account for about 1 to 2 percent of the county’s general fund.  Sheriff’s deputies are not going to increase county revenue by writing additional tickets.  

“Despite some opinions to the contrary, it’s not about the money.  It is about saving lives,” he said.

Added Krista, “For someone to think that this money will solve the current budget problems is inaccurate and untrue.  Our goal while issuing tickets is saving lives and changing driver behavior, not making money.”