Tag Archives: Sylvan

Caught behind a bus at camera-enforced intersection

The in basket: Mary Watson writes, “In September, I was headed north on Wheaton Way and was attempting to turn left onto Sylvan Way. There were two buses ahead of me. I could not see the turn light so I took my cue to go from the bus ahead of me.

“I could not see the light until the bus was halfway into its turn and I was well past the white line of the crosswalk. I saw that the light was red and rather than reverse and go backwards, I quickly followed the bus through the light and drove home.

“A few weeks later, I got a ticket in the mail for $124 dollars for running a red light and was caught by the red light camera posted there. Because I did indeed go through a red light but not intentionally, I decided to admit it and go to a mitigation hearing.

“(At) the hearing, Commissioner Shane Seaman, after hearing my explanation, fined me $85 dollars. He even said ‘Oh, yeah, I have been behind those buses.’ I told him clearly that I could not see the light until it was too late and I was glad for the light delay so that I was not in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic.

“I don’t know what else I could have done. Was I supposed to stop and reverse once I saw it was a red light?
I have heard from a friend who told me that she knows of several people who have had this happen to them. The commissioner did not offer any suggestions and I was disappointed that he still fined me $85 dollars. Others who had committed similar offenses were fined $70 and $75 dollars.

“I am curious as to two things…why did I get fined more? And what else was I supposed to do? I honestly did not RUN the red light with intent. I had to take my cue from the bus until I could see the light and by the time I saw it – it was too late. So in the interest of safety I just proceeded through the intersection as quickly as I could.”

The out basket: This dilemma is not unique to red light camera intersections. Any time a driver is following a large vehicle that obscures the view beyond it, he or she can find that a traffic signal has turned red while the large vehicle was transiting the intersection.

I asked Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police what he would advise and his two-sentence response is essentially what I would recommend: “The best advice is to follow at a distance that allows you to see the light. Just assuming it’s green because a truck or bus is going through could result in a collision.”

It means leaving a larger gap than normal between you and the vehicle ahead.

A driver can get away with following at a normal distance at most signals, as the one-second delay on signal changes that Mary mentions will keep cross traffic from starting up quickly enough to risk a collision. And an officer would rarely be there to see it.

But enforcement at red light camera intersections is constant. If you know you’re coming to one and are behind a large vehicle, allow the extra distance.

When I watched several of these red light camera mitigation hearings a few years ago, the presiding official would reliably reduce the $124 fine for those appearing, but never nullified it completely. The reductions varied, and the official didn’t explain why, nor could I.


Concerning all-way stops and rolling right turns

The in basket: Alison Loris says in an e-mail, “I have noticed that many drivers do not bother to come to a stop at a four-way-stop sign or traffic light if they are making a right turn, not even a “California stop.”  The intersection of Perry and Sylvan in East Bremerton is just about the worst I’ve seen, but it happens elsewhere too.  Some drivers don’t even appear to glance at the other cars at the intersection.  Surely this is illegal as well as dangerous! The practice of ignoring the four-way stop is irritating to drivers who do wait their turn.”

The out basket: Yes, it’s illegal, but a common practice, and hardly new. Drivers have been doing it as long as I can remember.

The red light cameras being deployed in Bremerton and elsewhere serve their supposed function almost exclusively in the deterrence of that infraction. Most camera-based citations are for rolling right turns.

And they are dangerous, to pedestrians who are trying to cross at the intersection.

It also is quite understandable at Perry and Sylvan, for drivers turning from westbound Sylvan onto northbound Perry. It’s an uphill grade and getting restarted  from a full stop on Sylvan regularly involves some spinning of the tires in the sand on the road. Keeping up one’s momentum in that turn is an attractive tactic.

Who’s filling up National Avenue post office parking?

The in basket: Kathy Dulaney said on Jan. 6, “This morning there were 22 cars in the parking lot in front of the post

office (on National Avenue in Bremerton) and no customers inside.  The other day I counted 22 cars and four customers in the parking lot.  Is that a designated Park and Ride?”

“I have been there when I couldn’t even find a spot to park and there were very few

customers inside,” Kathy said.

The out basket: What Kathy sees is the result of the Dec. 1 consolidation of mail carrier activities, shifting all the carriers from the Sylvan Way Post Office in East Bremerton to the National Avenue site, says Postmaster Sandra Sadak.

She has had to let some of the relocated carriers use the front lot, she said. 

Still, there should always be 22 public spots plus two disabled spaces available, she said. About 15 carrier cars use the front lot. 

When the weather improves, she added, the back lot of that post office will be reconfigured to hold more of the carriers’ cars. She isn’t sure if that can completely eliminate the need for some carrier parking in front. 

She’s seen no sign that anyone is turning the front lot into an impromptu park and ride, she said. It’s certainly not a designated one.