Thursday, December 3, 2009

TRAFFIC: Crosswalk signals and corresponding traffic lights

Question/Comment: A resident noted that most traffic signals in Somerville require pedestrians to push a button and wait for the traffic signal to stop vehicles in all directions for a cross signal to come on, but s/he has observed that many pedestrians just cross when there is a break in traffic or when parallel traffic has a green light. In Boston and Cambridge, most traffic signals have pedestrian signal phases that come up automatically when parallel traffic has a green light. S/he would like to know if it would it be possible to reprogram the signals in Somerville to operate in this manner.

City Update 12/9/09: Somerville's walk signals are all pedestrian activated and most allow for walking from all approaches.  They normally function on a red, yellow, green cycle, and when the pedestrian button is pushed the walk signal is activated at the end of this cycle.  The majority of pedestrian cycles are 90 seconds, but cycles are longer at major intersections and in squares.  In the opinion of the City's Traffic Engineer, signals that allow walking from all approaches are safer for pedestrians.  Walk signals that are concurrent with green lights leave pedestrians vulnerable to turning traffic.

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