(blink) pedestrian crossing (blink)

crosswalk new scotland ave warning lights button

We encountered a new-to-us type of crosswalk today* and thought it was interesting because of the way it signals to drivers rather than pedestrians.

The crosswalk is near one of the new bus shelters on New Scotland Ave in Albany, just up the street from Albany Med. (It's across from the state Department of Health lab building.) The signal button doesn't trigger a traffic light or one of those walk/don't walk signs. Instead, it activates blinking lights to notify drivers that a pedestrian's crossing. (There's a photo of the crosswalk after the jump.)

And, in our experience today, it worked! Oncoming traffic actually stopped. That might not sound like much, but we'd guess the chances of traffic stopping at a similar crosswalk without the lights -- even when there's a(n often battered) sign in the middle of the street telling drivers to stop for pedestrians -- are, at best, 50-50.**

So, an early +1 for these signals. And if they don't work, maybe a giant, blinking "Stop for pedestrians -- no, really, actually stop" sign should be next.

* What, you don't get excited about that?

** Our technique for those crosswalks: Wait for a gap in traffic, then stride purposefully into the crosswalk while giving the I-see-you stare, with a hand up, to oncoming traffic. You gotta act like you own that crosswalk.

crosswalk new scotland ave warning lights

Comments

"You gotta act like you own that crosswalk." Because you do.

They are called rectangular flashing beacons! I hope we see more of them.

They also just installed one on Helderberg Avenue in Rotterdam by Mohonasen.

Good. Albany is not the most pedestrian friendly town.

Does it sparkle across the entire street like the one in Williamstown, MA connecting the campus of Williams college? Those crosswalks are awesome. Based on the photos, this one may be subpar.

Neat, I guess, but outside of maybe two (tops) intersections in the entire city, there's no way in hell I'm going to push a button to cross the street.

Used them in St. Petersburgh, Florida recently. They are very effective. Drivers have no excuse for not seeing them.

Officially they are a "Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon" = RRFB.

An official FHWA-sponsored experimental implementation and evaluation conducted in St. Petersburg, Florida found that RRFBs at pedestrian crosswalks are dramatically more effective at increasing driver yielding rates to pedestrians than traditional overhead beacons.

http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/intersection/conventional/unsignalized/tech_sum/fhwasa09009/

It is often said that drivers don't stop for pedestrians who are trying to cross the street because they don't see them there or they don't realize they're actually waiting to cross. These beacons should go a long way toward solving that part of the equation.

Four of them were installed a few years ago on Fuller Road at Washington Ave.

These are not new. They've been in Canadian cities for decades. Canada actually cares about people.

I'd Like to see them at Madison & Willet, I feel like I'm taking my life in my own hands every time I cross there!

I was almost hit twice while walking my dog on Friday evening. There were signs at both of the intersections about crosswalks & pedestrians.

First was crossing Washington Park Road just inside Hudson/Willett. A Prius stopped to let myself and another pedestrian cross at the crosswalk, but the car behind wasn't having it and pulled around, nearly hitting us.

Just a little bit later, I was crossing Swan by El Mariachi & the Plaza with my dog, 2 friends, and their dog. A car parked at the state building backed out and brashly cut the 5 of us off, despite being almost across (apparently just over a car-width). It's not like we were on the side that goes down to Hudson/garage and they were going up Swan. I'd understand that.

I walk a lot and drive a lot. So I get that sometimes it's more sensible if there's not a lot of traffic, for the pedestrian to wait - the car will be gone in a second. But if there's signage (crosswalk, yield or arrow sign), if it's a busier spot, or you know, they're already at the corner or in the crosswalk, it's definitely time to yield.

I think most (maybe that's generous) understand this. More flashy signs might improve it compliance, but there will always be impatient assholes who continue disobeying them, as they don't face consequences for behavior as described above.

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