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Author Topic: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?  (Read 876 times)

epzik8

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Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« on: November 08, 2017, 09:57:46 PM »

Did you ever see an unusually long yellow light during a traffic signal cycle? I was on Route 543 at Thomas Run/Southampton outside of Bel Air, Maryland and timed the yellow light for traffic going straight from Southampton onto Thomas Run, immediately before I, going southbound on MD-543, got the green light, as being about six seconds long. Most yellow lights I've seen last approximately three seconds. So it got me thinking if anyone else here has seen a yellow light during either a normal or non-normal cycle that they considered unusually long.
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 10:06:40 PM »

Did you ever see an unusually long yellow light during a traffic signal cycle? I was on Route 543 at Thomas Run/Southampton outside of Bel Air, Maryland and timed the yellow light for traffic going straight from Southampton onto Thomas Run, immediately before I, going southbound on MD-543, got the green light, as being about six seconds long. Most yellow lights I've seen last approximately three seconds. So it got me thinking if anyone else here has seen a yellow light during either a normal or non-normal cycle that they considered unusually long.

Most yellows you've seen aren't 3 seconds.  3 seconds is the absolute minimum, and should only be used on roadways of speeds/speed limits 30 mph or lower.  They are usually timed for 1 second per 10 mph, so a 50 mph roadway should have a 5 second yellow.  If you were on a 50 mph roadway and saw a 3 second yellow, almost guaranteed you would run the red before you had a chance to react to the light.

Most 55 mph or faster roadways should have 6 second yellows.  Some states may base it solely on the speed limit; other states will take into consideration average or 85th percentile speeds.
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Big John

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 11:11:55 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.  Not sure why they did that but to irritate the stopped traffic on the major street.
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roadguy2

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2017, 12:34:22 AM »

On some expressways in my area, the yellow lights are at least six seconds long. I remember  specifically noticing it on the new Mountain View Corridor, where the speed limit is 65. Using the 1 second=10 mph rule, those lights would have been 6.5 seconds. I remember having trouble deciding whether or not I could stop in time. They do have those flashing “Prepare to Stop” lights to help make those decisions easier.
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jakeroot

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2017, 12:58:27 AM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.
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Brandon

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 09:17:22 AM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.
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roadfro

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2017, 10:51:36 AM »

MUTCD Guidance says the yellow change interval should be between 3 and 6 seconds.

Many agencies will use the ITE (Institute of Traffic Engineers) yellow change formula, which takes into account an assumed driver reaction time, the 85th percentile speed, an assumed deceleration rate of vehicles, and the grade of approach--this usually works out to the 3-6 second range.
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kphoger

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2017, 01:29:46 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.
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jakeroot

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2017, 04:05:00 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2017, 04:34:35 PM »

Did you ever see an unusually long yellow light during a traffic signal cycle? I was on Route 543 at Thomas Run/Southampton outside of Bel Air, Maryland and timed the yellow light for traffic going straight from Southampton onto Thomas Run, immediately before I, going southbound on MD-543, got the green light, as being about six seconds long. Most yellow lights I've seen last approximately three seconds. So it got me thinking if anyone else here has seen a yellow light during either a normal or non-normal cycle that they considered unusually long.

I've noticed unusually long yellows at large intersections in metro Portland; it wouldn't surprise me if their yellow light policy has something in it to make the yellow light long enough for a bicycle doing 10-15 MPH entering just as it turns yellow to clear the intersection by the time it turns red. It actually makes yellow lights meeting the minimum requirements at large intersections seem short.
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2017, 04:36:55 PM »

Did you ever see an unusually long yellow light during a traffic signal cycle? I was on Route 543 at Thomas Run/Southampton outside of Bel Air, Maryland and timed the yellow light for traffic going straight from Southampton onto Thomas Run, immediately before I, going southbound on MD-543, got the green light, as being about six seconds long. Most yellow lights I've seen last approximately three seconds. So it got me thinking if anyone else here has seen a yellow light during either a normal or non-normal cycle that they considered unusually long.

Most yellows you've seen aren't 3 seconds.  3 seconds is the absolute minimum, and should only be used on roadways of speeds/speed limits 30 mph or lower.  They are usually timed for 1 second per 10 mph, so a 50 mph roadway should have a 5 second yellow.  If you were on a 50 mph roadway and saw a 3 second yellow, almost guaranteed you would run the red before you had a chance to react to the light.

Most 55 mph or faster roadways should have 6 second yellows.  Some states may base it solely on the speed limit; other states will take into consideration average or 85th percentile speeds.

Should be 1 second per 10 MPH plus 1.5 seconds as a minimum, so a 55 MPH road would have a 7 second yellow.
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2017, 04:40:44 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

It wouldn't surprise me if the lights at TV Highway and Murray Boulevard have a yellow light that long, since it's 6/7 lanes by 9 lanes, it's on a slight slope, and they tend to factor in bicycle clearance time.
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kphoger

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2017, 04:42:43 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2017, 04:44:50 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.
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kphoger

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2017, 04:48:09 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.

No, I mean like Mexico, where it's simply a warning that the light is about to turn yellow.  It is, in essence, a prolonged yellow phase, except that you have a better idea of how quickly the red will come, because the phase is split in half.
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2017, 04:58:54 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.

No, I mean like Mexico, where it's simply a warning that the light is about to turn yellow.  It is, in essence, a prolonged yellow phase, except that you have a better idea of how quickly the red will come, because the phase is split in half.

In that case, I'd prefer the Russian style countdown signals, but the FHWA has already said no to that.
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kphoger

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2017, 05:01:27 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.

No, I mean like Mexico, where it's simply a warning that the light is about to turn yellow.  It is, in essence, a prolonged yellow phase, except that you have a better idea of how quickly the red will come, because the phase is split in half.

In that case, I'd prefer the Russian style countdown signals, but the FHWA has already said no to that.

But which of the following would be your preference?

{a} 4-second yellow
{b} 4-second flashing green, followed by 4-second yellow
{c} 8-second yellow
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #17 on: November 09, 2017, 05:04:22 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.

No, I mean like Mexico, where it's simply a warning that the light is about to turn yellow.  It is, in essence, a prolonged yellow phase, except that you have a better idea of how quickly the red will come, because the phase is split in half.

In that case, I'd prefer the Russian style countdown signals, but the FHWA has already said no to that.

But which of the following would be your preference?

{a} 4-second yellow
{b} 4-second flashing green, followed by 4-second yellow
{c} 8-second yellow

8-second yellow.
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Big John

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #18 on: November 09, 2017, 06:00:34 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.
That is no longer the case.  It is regular yellow and all-red now.  Not sure why they did the long times.
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traffic light guy

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #19 on: November 09, 2017, 06:31:13 PM »

Philly has a lot of elongated yellows, since most of their older equipment is still operated mechanically.
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doorknob60

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #20 on: November 09, 2017, 06:37:54 PM »

Ada County is pretty simple as far as I know. All yellows on roads <= 40 MPH are 4 seconds, and >= 45 MPH are 5 seconds. I don't know if there are any exceptions. Only exceptions I could imagine are SPUIs (but I think those just have a long all red phase) and ID-16 (the only road with lights and a 65 MPH speed limit, due to it being a freeway segment with temporary endings), though I think those follow the same rule still.
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jakeroot

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2017, 08:26:07 PM »

One intersection in Green Bay had the minor street (speed limit 30) have a 10-second yellow followed by a 5-second all red during evening hours.

That is one of the most bizarre setups I've ever heard of. Is it still like this? A five second red is odd, but a ten second yellow is just...it has to be one the oddest things I've ever heard of.

It looks like a five second delayed signal.  Most around here run about two seconds (all red, all directions).  Chicago has several (city operated, of course) that have a delay of zero seconds.

There used to be one in River Forest as well, as recently as 2000, with zero all-red phase.  Chicago Avenue and Thatcher.  It appears the light has been replaced since then, though.

I'm not necessarily alarmed by long or non-existant all red phases (things that usually last about half a second around here), but I'm still trying to wrap my head around a ten second yellow. That's insane.

What are your thoughts about countries that employ a flashing green phase before the yellow phase?

If the meaning is consistent (like BC's use of them at pedestrian controlled signals), I'm fine with it.

No, I mean like Mexico, where it's simply a warning that the light is about to turn yellow.  It is, in essence, a prolonged yellow phase, except that you have a better idea of how quickly the red will come, because the phase is split in half.

In that case, I'd prefer the Russian style countdown signals, but the FHWA has already said no to that.

But which of the following would be your preference?

{a} 4-second yellow
{b} 4-second flashing green, followed by 4-second yellow
{c} 8-second yellow

{a} please. {c} isn't a good idea, because you'll have some people who will instinctively slow and stop the moment they see yellow, yet others will continue at-speed because they know the yellow is quite long. {b} is a good middle-ground, but you'd still have people who will begin to slow when they see the flashing green. I'd also rather reserve the flashing green for pedestrian crossings (BC's adaptation), regardless if flashing green is allowed in the States.

A better idea, and something I see all the time in BC, is advanced "prepare to stop when flashing" signs. This is basically an MUTCD-compliant variation of {b}, but probably safer because it tells traffic from a ways out whether or not they're likely to make it (at the sign when it starts flashing?--you're good; still a good dozen meters away?--you're out), whereas a flashing green orb basically tempts drivers to run the light, because you're not sure how quickly you're going to reach the light (so speed up or prepare to stop).
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Baloo Uriza

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2017, 08:40:56 PM »

A better idea, and something I see all the time in BC, is advanced "prepare to stop when flashing" signs. This is basically an MUTCD-compliant variation of {b}, but probably safer because it tells traffic from a ways out whether or not they're likely to make it (at the sign when it starts flashing?--you're good; still a good dozen meters away?--you're out), whereas a flashing green orb basically tempts drivers to run the light, because you're not sure how quickly you're going to reach the light (so speed up or prepare to stop).

These used to be common on roads with a speed limit above 40 MPH in the Portland area, as well, but now they're virtually nonextant.  I liked those because even at the speed limit, if you saw the sign flashing, you knew the light was about to change and you knew you weren't going to make the light if you saw the downstream traffic light turn yellow, unless you were already past the decision point, in which point you'd still make it before the red light came on.

Even better if you were on a bike, as soon as the preclearance warning beacon came on, you knew you could just stop pedaling and coast because you weren't going to make the light from that distance anyway.

But, it seems the preclearance beacons (as well as those obstruction beacons blinked at 1 or 2 Hz and were roughly the size and shape of one of the army-helmet yellow Botts dots that were formerly regionally ubiquitous on the ends of medians and porkchops) sharply declined in numbers during the 1990s.  Likewise, while looking for one such setup I knew still existed on one of the approaches to the St John Bridge, I noticed one of my favorite intersections now no longer has a permanent green over the center and bicycle lanes, only the left lane and left turn lane had signals even capable of changing from green.  And long enough ago that the permanent green doesn't appear in any Google Maps Streetview.  I noticed something was different probably around the early 2000s, but by that point, the safer, faster route via US 26, I 405 and US 30 from Beaverton to Sauvie Island had become so congested, it was became faster to take the more dangerous Cornelius Pass Road, barring some idiot didn't shut down the whole works by crashing on the switchbacks on the pass itself again.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 08:53:44 PM by Baloo Uriza »
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UCFKnights

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #23 on: November 09, 2017, 10:46:46 PM »

A better idea, and something I see all the time in BC, is advanced "prepare to stop when flashing" signs. This is basically an MUTCD-compliant variation of {b}, but probably safer because it tells traffic from a ways out whether or not they're likely to make it (at the sign when it starts flashing?--you're good; still a good dozen meters away?--you're out), whereas a flashing green orb basically tempts drivers to run the light, because you're not sure how quickly you're going to reach the light (so speed up or prepare to stop).

These used to be common on roads with a speed limit above 40 MPH in the Portland area, as well, but now they're virtually nonextant.  I liked those because even at the speed limit, if you saw the sign flashing, you knew the light was about to change and you knew you weren't going to make the light if you saw the downstream traffic light turn yellow, unless you were already past the decision point, in which point you'd still make it before the red light came on.

Even better if you were on a bike, as soon as the preclearance warning beacon came on, you knew you could just stop pedaling and coast because you weren't going to make the light from that distance anyway.

But, it seems the preclearance beacons (as well as those obstruction beacons blinked at 1 or 2 Hz and were roughly the size and shape of one of the army-helmet yellow Botts dots that were formerly regionally ubiquitous on the ends of medians and porkchops) sharply declined in numbers during the 1990s.  Likewise, while looking for one such setup I knew still existed on one of the approaches to the St John Bridge, I noticed one of my favorite intersections now no longer has a permanent green over the center and bicycle lanes, only the left lane and left turn lane had signals even capable of changing from green.  And long enough ago that the permanent green doesn't appear in any Google Maps Streetview.  I noticed something was different probably around the early 2000s, but by that point, the safer, faster route via US 26, I 405 and US 30 from Beaverton to Sauvie Island had become so congested, it was became faster to take the more dangerous Cornelius Pass Road, barring some idiot didn't shut down the whole works by crashing on the switchbacks on the pass itself again.
One thing that one of the counties I lived in did was made the distance of the solid white line separating lanes the length of where its okay to go through the yellow signal if your going the speed limit. So if a light turns yellow and you have a dashed line next to you separating lanes, you should stop, but if you have a solid line, you can make it through the light. I wish that was in MUTCD as most areas seem to use random lengths for those lines.
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jakeroot

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Re: Ever witnessed a prolonged yellow light?
« Reply #24 on: November 10, 2017, 12:00:18 AM »

One thing that one of the counties I lived in did was made the distance of the solid white line separating lanes the length of where its okay to go through the yellow signal if your going the speed limit. So if a light turns yellow and you have a dashed line next to you separating lanes, you should stop, but if you have a solid line, you can make it through the light. I wish that was in MUTCD as most areas seem to use random lengths for those lines.

That's very cool. I'm used to seeing those lines used to indicate a ban on lane-changing near intersections and crosswalks (ubiquitous in Los Angeles, as well as Vancouver, BC), but never to indicate the safe point for yellow lights. I'd love to see that in the MUTCD.
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