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Author Topic: Red arrows  (Read 15007 times)

1995hoo

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Red arrows
« on: May 09, 2011, 08:46:59 AM »

Sorry about the poor quality of the image below. I took it on the spur of the moment, using an iPhone, on Saturday when we were stopped at a red light that has annoyed me for years. If I can get a better picture sometime this week I will edit this post. This light is at the westbound end of Eisenhower Avenue at Van Dorn Street in Alexandria, Virginia. There are four lanes on Eisenhower and we were in the leftmost one at this point, a left-turn-only lane onto southbound Van Dorn. There are two right-turn-only lanes and a left-or-straight lane; the light for our lane is out of the picture to the left.

The thing that annoys me at this intersection is the combination of the traffic lights and that white sign that's visible. It may not be apparent from this image, but the two right-turn lights use red arrows. Then there is that small white sign up there. It says "Right Turn on Red from Curb Lane Only." (Those of you who drive in Virginia no doubt know that VDOT is obsessed with this issue and usually posts signs for the second lane from the right using some variant on the phrase "No Turn on Red This Lane.")

The issue at this intersection is—why have a red arrow at all if you're allowing turns on red? I like the idea of the red arrow for the second lane, from which turns on red are prohibited, and I think it would be a useful tool at other intersections, especially because out-of-state drivers aren't always aware of Virginia's prohibition on turns on red from other than the curb lane and because at large intersections the small white sign is sometimes hard to read (especially at night). But at least across the river in DC the red arrow is normally interpreted to mean that you cannot go in the direction of the arrow until you have a green light—that is, the red arrow seems like it should be a prohibition on a specific movement along the lines of "even if there is a green light, you cannot turn in this direction right now." Doesn't allowing a turn on red defeat the purpose of a red arrow?

(Virginia's statutes allowing right turns and left turns on red do not specifically speak to red arrows—they just say that "vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal" may make a right or left on red after stopping unless a sign prohibits the maneuver.)

What is the rule elsewhere around the country? Off the top of my head I can't think of any other red arrows in Virginia, but they're pretty common in DC.

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NE2

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2011, 09:17:53 AM »

The issue at this intersection is—why have a red arrow at all if you're allowing turns on red?
In general, because if you put a red ball on top, you have no way to give straight traffic a green but right-turning traffic a red (for example, if there's heavy pedestrian traffic or a parallel rail line).

Doesn't allowing a turn on red defeat the purpose of a red arrow?
No, since a red arrow logically means that traffic turning that way has a red light, and that the normal rules for red lights apply to that movement. Unfortunately the MUTCD seems to recommend the opposite - that a red arrow has its own set of rules.


See also http://knowledge.fhwa.dot.gov/cops/opspublic.nsf/discussionDisplay?Open&id=1BBE8C2ED2678129852570BC006DB229&Group=Signals&tab=DISCUSSION
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 09:19:48 AM by NE2 »
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realjd

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2011, 09:48:32 AM »

In general, because if you put a red ball on top, you have no way to give straight traffic a green but right-turning traffic a red (for example, if there's heavy pedestrian traffic or a parallel rail line).

That's why they use the light-up "No Right Turn" signs (arrow with a slash) here in Florida, or occasionally a light-up "No Turn On Red" sign although those are not as common.

Of course we live in one of the few states that allows right turns on red arrows.

I don't know if they do this on purpose, but it seems like red arrows often are a good indicator of lane use as well.
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1995hoo

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2011, 10:11:41 AM »

The issue at this intersection is—why have a red arrow at all if you're allowing turns on red?
In general, because if you put a red ball on top, you have no way to give straight traffic a green but right-turning traffic a red (for example, if there's heavy pedestrian traffic or a parallel rail line).

....

I suppose that's a common use of the red arrows in DC. I can think of one spot in particular (18th & Constitution NW) where the left lane becomes left-turn-only (though 95% of the drivers ignore it and go straight) and the next lane over is left-or-straight, with a red arrow prohibiting the left turn at times when the straight-thru traffic has a green ball. Needless to say, you put yourself in grave danger if you stop in the left-or-straight lane because you want to go left. Google Street View here: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=38.892135,-77.04212&spn=0.012376,0.033023&z=16&layer=c&cbll=38.892127,-77.041963&panoid=uGRC9WUioL-DIyxUUxu1Yw&cbp=12,119.05,,0,12.22

The particular intersection referred to in my post above doesn't fall within any of those categories, though—all four lanes get the green at the same time. The two right-turn lanes do sometimes get a green arrow when the other two lanes have a red (this because of the green-arrow phase for traffic on the other street making a left onto eastbound Eisenhower, i.e. in the picture above traffic coming from our right and making a left to head back to where we were coming from). This is why I find the use of the red arrow very puzzling there.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 10:14:00 AM by 1995hoo »
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NE2

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011, 10:50:11 AM »

I don't know if they do this on purpose, but it seems like red arrows often are a good indicator of lane use as well.
Yes, good point. If you see a red arrow over a lane as you're approaching the intersection, that's a good indication that the lane will be right turn only, and is more visible than a right lane must turn right sign.

By the way, here in Florida, in my experience they will generally allow turning right from all right turn lanes, not just the rightmost.

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2011, 12:52:16 PM »

In Delaware, red arrows mean no turn on red in all cases. I thought that that was the universal rule when it came to those and was surprised to find out that in Florida, red arrows do not prohibit turning while red, and that if they do, accompanying signs will be posted.
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Brandon

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2011, 02:07:49 PM »

In Delaware, red arrows mean no turn on red in all cases. I thought that that was the universal rule when it came to those and was surprised to find out that in Florida, red arrows do not prohibit turning while red, and that if they do, accompanying signs will be posted.

It's the same in Illinois.  They do not prohibit turning on red.  Instead, a sign must be posted stating "NO TURN ON RED", "LEFT/RIGHT TURN ON GREEN ARROW ONLY", or "RIGHT TURN ON RED FROM RIGHT LANE ONLY".
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myosh_tino

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2011, 04:15:32 PM »

In California, a red arrow mean no turn on red period.  Signs may be posted along with the red arrows but are not required.

During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I quickly found out that Oregon's laws regarding red right-turn arrows is different than California's.  I encountered a red right arrow so I waited for it to turn green when I got honked at by the person behind me.  I should have known I was doing something wrong since the cars in the lane next to me (it was a double right turn lane) were making the turn against the red arrow.
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Stephane Dumas

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2011, 04:29:06 PM »

In Quebec, there is some red arrows like this one in Montreal at the exit of 1st avenue on A-20 in Lachine sector
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=45.444468,-73.663684&spn=0.005088,0.013733&z=17&layer=c&cbll=45.444573,-73.663613&panoid=I12k6fuKepi2Q0SRfTXS8A&cbp=12,293.28,,0,0

However in Sherbrooke, they use a regular red light instead of a red arrow like this one at the corner of King Street and Belvedere Street http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=45.398736,-71.896806&spn=0.00461,0.027466&z=16&layer=c&cbll=45.398731,-71.896808&panoid=3PRhlCavg5MZZ96xI72jnQ&cbp=11,87.42,,0,0.7
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Zmapper

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2011, 04:44:23 PM »

In Colorado RTORA (right turn on red arrow) is prohibited. Normally there is a supplemental sign but I know of an instance in Sterling where there isn't. The road is leaving a shopping center and there are 3 lights; two left arrow RYG and one right arrow RYG. This is as close as Streetview gets to it: http://goo.gl/maps/IMSN

That would appear to be a great safety enhancement money maker when you consider that there are no supplemental signs.  :pan:
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US71

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2011, 05:08:01 PM »

Most Flashing Yellow Arrow signals use a Red Arrow.

Texas has a hit & miss attitude to Red Arrows: some signals have them, many don't.

Paris, TX uses a Double Red Ball for their left turn signals



As does Lumberton

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1995hoo

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2011, 05:54:29 PM »

In California, a red arrow mean no turn on red period.  Signs may be posted along with the red arrows but are not required.

During a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, I quickly found out that Oregon's laws regarding red right-turn arrows is different than California's.  I encountered a red right arrow so I waited for it to turn green when I got honked at by the person behind me.  I should have known I was doing something wrong since the cars in the lane next to me (it was a double right turn lane) were making the turn against the red arrow.

I suppose when you really get down to it, not making the turn if you have any doubt is the prudent way to proceed, especially if there's a cop around and you're concerned that he might ticket you if you turn and it's not allowed.

In other words, you're never required to turn on red if you don't want to do so, even if it bugs the crap out of the people waiting on line behind you. I can think of times when I haven't turned on red simply because I felt I couldn't see well enough to be able to determine whether the road was clear.


In Quebec, there is some red arrows like this one in Montreal at the exit of 1st avenue on A-20 in Lachine sector
http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=45.444468,-73.663684&spn=0.005088,0.013733&z=17&layer=c&cbll=45.444573,-73.663613&panoid=I12k6fuKepi2Q0SRfTXS8A&cbp=12,293.28,,0,0

....

I panned around to see the rest of the intersection. It looks like that one may be similar to the DC example in my post from 10:11 this morning—I clicked back to where the red car is and then panned back to look at the lights and it appears that the light assembly with the red arrow is exclusively for left turns and that the other assembly on the far side of that street is for straight-ahead and right-turn traffic. Hard to tell from Street View whether they ever have a cycle where the red arrow is on but the other lanes still have a green. (The use of the red arrow anywhere in Montreal is potentially interesting in view of it being illegal to make a right on red anywhere on the Island of Montreal.)
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froggie

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2011, 06:45:16 PM »

One note for 1995hoo:  given the location, this signal installation would be under the city of Alexandria's purview, instead of VDOT's.  I only know of two VDOT left red arrow installations statewide (and no red right arrows)...one in Spotsylvania, the other in Fairfax Co (US 1 at Beacon Hill).  If one sees a red arrow in Virginia (in either direction), it's most likely because one is in one of the Independent Cities, who are responsible for their own non-Interstate maintenance instead of VDOT.  VDOT's standard has long been circular reds for turn signals.
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stormwatch7721

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2011, 06:49:48 PM »

South Carolina has red arrows on US 17 in the Myrtle Beach area and took the "Left Turn Signal" signs off at intersections.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2011, 06:53:46 PM by stormwatch7721 »
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Duke87

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2011, 07:12:59 PM »

Connecticut avoids this issue by just not using red arrows, ever. :rolleyes:
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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #15 on: May 09, 2011, 08:39:44 PM »

Red arrows are pretty much common here in Kentucky. It's rare to have red ball yellow arrow and green arrow since Kentucky pretty much follow national MUTCD. Also, we do have red right arrow here in Lexington but it's rare too.
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realjd

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #16 on: May 09, 2011, 08:49:45 PM »

Isn't using red arrows for left turn signals now a MUTCD requirement? I know Indiana finally legislated red arrows in preparation of the switch.
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NE2

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2011, 08:50:39 PM »

I suppose when you really get down to it, not making the turn if you have any doubt is the prudent way to proceed, especially if there's a cop around and you're concerned that he might ticket you if you turn and it's not allowed.

In other words, you're never required to turn on red if you don't want to do so, even if it bugs the crap out of the people waiting on line behind you. I can think of times when I haven't turned on red simply because I felt I couldn't see well enough to be able to determine whether the road was clear.
Something I've wondered: can you wait here for eight hours until the light turns green? http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=35.218759,-80.835364&spn=0.007284,0.020599&t=k&z=17&layer=c&cbll=35.218616,-80.835317&panoid=XtfTmHxSq9fhdRrxL_1Luw&cbp=12,280.33,,1,-6.94

Zmapper

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #18 on: May 09, 2011, 08:59:37 PM »

So why is there that time restriction is the first place?
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Revive 755

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #19 on: May 09, 2011, 09:08:03 PM »

Regarding the right turn on red arrow after stop, is there some reason a flashing red arrow cannot or is not used?

Regarding use of red arrows, they are becoming more common in Missouri as MoDOT is now using them with the flashing yellow arrow installations.  Previously they were used sporadically on other roads.

Red arrows seem to be common in Illinois excluding District 8 of IDOT, which uses a louvered red ball that is only visible from the left turn lane.
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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #20 on: May 09, 2011, 09:17:05 PM »

There is one instance in Pittsburgh at the intersection of Fort Duquesne Boulevard and Stanwix Street, but Philadelphia is the only place in Pennsylvania that uses red arrows extensively in their left turn signals.  In both cities, the use of "LEFT TURN SIGNAL" signs in conjunction with the arrows is standard procedure.

Philadelphia provided the template for what has become the standard signal installation (mast arms, 12" yellow signal heads, and black backplates) state-wide, but for some reason PennDOT left out the red arrows.  Then again they followed the beat of their own MUTCD until recently.
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NE2

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2011, 09:18:37 PM »

So why is there that time restriction is the first place?
Because it's a parking exit that doesn't need its own phase except during afternoon rush hour.

Scott5114

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2011, 09:23:54 PM »

Regarding use of red arrows, they are becoming more common in Missouri as MoDOT is now using them with the flashing yellow arrow installations.  Previously they were used sporadically on other roads.

MoDOT has done strange things with arrows before. In Springfield there are tons of intersections (mainly on BL 44) that feature green up arrows instead of balls.
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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2011, 09:58:22 PM »


MoDOT has done strange things with arrows before. In Springfield there are tons of intersections (mainly on BL 44) that feature green up arrows instead of balls.

Or at the Diverging Diamonds:

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Revive 755

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Re: Red arrows
« Reply #24 on: May 09, 2011, 10:18:13 PM »

^ The up arrows were (are?) the MoDOT standard where left turns from the opposite direction were protected only or nonexistent.
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