Tag Archives: pedestrian

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.”

Do bicycles on shoulder forfeit right of way?

The in basket: I just came across a misfiled, year-old e-mail from Bill Christensen, sent about the time a man on a bicycle was killed when a car turned in front of him on Holly Road at Wildcat Lake Road.

“After reading all the comments on the death…,” Bill wrote, “I conclude there is some confusion as to the rights of riders and automobile drivers. I believe that anyone on the shoulder of the road is considered to be off the road, thereby relinquishing their right of way as a vehicle in a lane of travel.

“If this is the case, the rider that was killed was at fault in as much as he didn’t stop at the cross road and walk across/ride across as if it were a crosswalk.

“My question is this: Is a person walking or riding on the shoulder considered to be on the road or off the road and what are the obligations for crossing cross streets for the rider and the turn requirements for drivers?”

The out basket: The law that confers to bicyclists the same rights and duties as motorists deviates from that standard to allow bicyclists to ride on the shoulder, which cars aren’t allowed to do.

So the fact a bike rider is on the shoulder doesn’t change the rules and the rider, if going straight, has the right of way over a turning vehicle.

Pedestrians have the right of way at any unsignalized intersection, whether there is a crosswalk or not, provided the pedestrian doesn’t move so abruptly a driver has no realistic chance of getting stopped in time. The signals confer right of way at intersections with stop lights.

Regulating skate boards on public roads

The in basket: An Olalla woman who wants to go by only H.B. writes to ask about the legal status of the many teenagers she has seen long-boarding on the public roads.

“Usually the teenagers are riding down the center of the lane (with or without helmets) and weaving to pick up speed.  Of particular concern to me is the fact that they are also riding down very steep hills, such as the one on Forsman Road.

She worries about one of them wiping out and falling into the path of her car, she said.

“I have no problem sharing the roads with bicycles and pedestrians (who have the ability to brake and stop), but this use seems particularly risky, especially considering the poor girl in Silverdale who recently had the brain injury due to a longboarding accident.  “Is this legal?” H.B asked. “If not, is there enforcement?”

The out basket: Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the Kitsap County sheriff, says skateboarders are regarded as pedestrians and must comply with laws governing pedestrians.

That includes riding toward oncoming traffic, not in the same direction, and staying as close as manageable to the left side of their lane.

“Skateboarding on roadways has been a safety concern with cops for more than 40 years, going back to the 1963 record release of ‘Sidewalk Surfin’ ‘ by Jan & Dean.  With each generation the clarion call of the skateboard thrill beckons for many.”

He called H. B.’s concerns “not only valid, but validated many times over with critical and fatal injuries sustained by those using skateboards on roadways.

“Fortunately there are now skate parks established and in use in various areas around the county.  Unfortunately, many skateboarders still want the added thrill of the open road.

He quoted the state law’s definition of a pedestrian as “any person who is afoot or who is using a wheelchair, a power wheelchair, or a means of conveyance propelled by human power other than a bicycle.

“To break it down into its most basic components,” Scott said:

“Where sidewalks are provided it is unlawful for a pedestrian (skateboarder) to move along and upon a roadway.

“Where sidewalks are not provided a pedestrian (skateboarder) moving along and upon a roadway shall, when practicable, move only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic approaching from the opposite direction.

“Those on skateboards must yield to pedestrians on foot.

“A violation of these (rules) could result in the issuance of a notice of infraction to the offender.

“(State law) and county code does not address the issue of safety helmets for those using skateboards.  However, I think that we all realize the necessity of this valuable piece of safety equipment,” Scott concluded.

Bond Road right turners might get a green arrow light

 

The in basket: Val Tangen of Hansville thinks right turn traffic from Bond Road to northbound Highway 3 in Poulsbo could be made to clear more quickly. 

“As you come to the light on Bond Road and want to turn right and go up the hill to (Highway) 3, there is a right turn lane,” she noted. 

“Why can’t there be a right-turn arrow when the traffic going towards Poulsbo/Bainbridge is making left turns on their arrow?”

Each car now must come to a stop before proceeding with that turn though no conflicting traffic can be coming.

The out basket: It might be done, says Don Anders of the Olympic Region signal shop for state highways here.

But there is a crosswalk there from one side of Highway 305 to the other. Pedestrians can be endangered by a right turn arrow if drivers make the turn carelessly, emboldened by the green arrow. 

Chances are there are very few pedestrians who cross there, as there is no development on the north side of Bond Road on either side of the highway. The crosswalk on the south side of that intersection would be more useful to most people on foot. That may be a deciding factor.

They’ve been approved to spend the money if the pedestrian issue can be resolved, Don said.

Burwell-Pacific signal questioned during construction

 

The in basket: Nancy Thayer, Lindsey Skelly, Michael Burton and Barney Bernhard have all contacted me in March about the traffic signal at Burwell Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. 

Nancy asks, “Since the road work is going to go on for some time and Pacific is closed to traffic, why is the light at Burwell operating per usual rather than an alternate means?  It seems ridiculous for traffic on Burwell to have to sit and wait at a red light for nonexistent cross traffic.”

Lindsey makes the same point, adding that Burwell traffic is also heavier than normal because drivers that normally access the ferry on Pacific now must use Burwell.

Michael was upset that the pedestrian signal for those wanting to cross Burwell on the west side of Pacific isn’t working. “Since the signal is set to green all the time for Burwell (understandable), there is no way to stop traffic in order to cross safely,” he said. “I actually dashed across between vehicles and pressed the button for the people waiting on the other side, because, otherwise, they would have had to wait until someone at one of the other three corners activated the light.” 

Barney wondered why westbound Burwell drivers who stop for a red light and want to turn left don’t do it when traffic allows. He is aware that left turns on red are permissible if onto a one-way street, and the turning driver comes to a full stop first and yields to any traffic or pedestrians with a green or walk light.

One recent morning, he said, he was stuck behind six cars wanting to turn left toward the ferry terminal, who sat through the red light before turning. 

The out basket: Obviously, there is some confusion about what that light was doing during the closure of Pacific for construction. I see that it occasionally is reopened with a sandwich board stop sign at Burwell while it awaits final paving, but here is what has been happening.

Michael’s point hints at the answer to Nancy and Lindsey’s question. Pedestrians still can activate a red light to cross Burwell on the east side. Eduardo Aban, the city’s project engineer for the Pacific work, said the traffic detection equipment that ordinarily detects cars coming south on Pacific and changes the Burwell light to red for that reason is turned off. 

But Michael is correct that the pedestrian signals on the west side of the intersection aren’t working, because of the construction.

Eduardo said they will bag the pedestrian signals for that crosswalk until they are operating again, and pedestrians will have to walk east across Pacific, then across Burwell on the east side. That will be enough for many of them, and they can just proceed straight. If they just have to get to the other corner on the west side of Burwell, they’ll have to make a third crossing to get there. 

That might seem an annoying inconvenience, but it’s not unheard of. Some intersections outside the city require that kind of three-corner crossing to minimize  vehicle delays by eliminating one pedestrian movement. That’s how it is on Mile Hill Drive at Jackson Avenue and at Woods Road over where I live in South Kitsap. 

I had to tell Barney that it’s rare for a driver to know of the law allowing red turns against a red light onto a one-way street, so it’s not surprising that most won’t do it. All it takes is the lead car wanting to turn left to hold up even those behind  who know the turn can be made legally after stopping and when no conflicting traffic is coming.

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.