Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, December 11, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

ACHD will make changes at a pedestrian crosswalk signal on Ten Mile Road near Cherry Lane but not include in-pavement lights; no crosswalk is better than an inadequate crosswalk at Overland Road and Country Terrace Way

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: I live in Parkside Creek at Ten Mile Road and Cherry Lane. There is a crosswalk light on Ten Mile that I have a few questions about. Ten Mile has become so busy, and it is difficult to see the teenagers using that crosswalk in the mornings. I saw a teen crossing last week with their bicycle who missed getting hit by mere inches. There were two boys hit there last year. Although there are street lights above the crosswalk, I think it would be easier to see if there were also lights in the road.

Road Wizard:

This particular crosswalk has a pedestrian activated traffic signal that transitions from green, to yellow, and finally to red after the crossing button is pressed.

In-pavement yellow crosswalk lights are not used with such signals because they give drivers a mixed message. Flashing yellow lights communicate "caution" or "yield to pedestrians." That message conflicts with red lights that require drivers to stop.

ACHD, which manages all of the public crosswalk signal devices on Ada County roads, stopped installing in-pavement yellow lights years ago. Instead, above-ground flashing yellow beacons, pedestrian traffic signals like the one on Ten Mile near Cherry Lane, or the so-called HAWK signals are used.

Generally, crosswalk signals with a red light that require drivers to stop are a safer fit for higher speed, higher volume roads such as Ten Mile.

What would benefit Ten Mile is the installation of yellow retroreflective backplates on the signals. ACHD has that work scheduled and will also adjust the placement of the signal heads to help drivers take better notice of the crossing pedestrians.

Dear Road Wizard: For years, we have crossed Overland Road at the intersection with Country Terrace Way (a healthier way to get to the gym) by using a painted crosswalk that was in place until the last tar and gravel application. We still cross with great care, but wonder what are the prohibitions and/or protections for crossing at an intersection like this one. Why the decision not to repaint the crosswalk markings after the road maintenance? For the first time, a motorist turning left took great exception to our crossing with words and aggressive driving. Who is right in this situation?
Rich and Mary

Road Wizard:

The crosswalk signs and markings were removed about seven years ago and not replaced intentionally. This created a safer situation for pedestrians than keeping the crosswalk.

It sounds backwards, but consider that Overland Road has five lanes and high traffic volumes. Research shows that on that type of road, a crosswalk without some sort of pedestrian signal poses a significantly higher risk to pedestrians than no markings at all. The Country Terrace crossing did not have any enhanced features.

People may have a false sense of security when using a crosswalk in that situation. Pedestrians may take more chances during short traffic gaps than they would if there wasn't a visible crosswalk.

Installing a new pedestrian signal and crosswalk is a consideration, but the close proximity to the traffic signal at Idaho 69/Meridian Road complicates matters. Plus, there may not be enough pedestrian demand to justify it. That was the case when the crosswalk was removed.

People can cross at intersections without painted crosswalks because the crosswalk still exists in legal terms. Drivers are required by law to yield to those pedestrians

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