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Author Topic: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals  (Read 2298 times)

SkyPesos

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Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« on: December 05, 2021, 07:58:03 PM »

I've been looking at roads in various European countries recently, and something I noticed among most of them is that traffic signals are placed in the near side of the intersection (in front of the intersection road), opposed to the far side you see in North America. I see notable disadvantages of both, with near sides possibly hard to look at if you're the first car in the line, and far side signals could be hard to look at if the perpendicular road is wide. Though I have seen places (like this example in Utrecht) where the crosswalk and bike crossing between the stop line and perpendicular road are wide enough that near sided signals look like that they can be viewed comfortably by the first car in line. Something nice about far side signals is that drivers on a road waiting at a red light can see the perpendicular road's traffic signal, and when it'll turn red.

I think the best approach is to have signals in both the near side and far side, with pole mounted ones in the near side, and the overhead one (and some more pole mounted ones) in the far side, like what Illinois does. But if you have to choose one or the other, which one would be better overall?
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2021, 08:08:44 PM »

Wisconsin also does the near side and far side.  I prefer it that way.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2021, 08:16:43 PM »

I'm gonna have to say I prefer signals on the far side, as signals on the near side will be very hard to see by the first car in line, which makes them prime candidate for being honked at.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2021, 08:17:06 PM »

The only advantage of near side signals is that it's easier to see why the rule of yielding to cars already in the intersection exists. I.e. once you're in the intersection you have right-of-way to clear the intersection (you shouldn't stop within the intersection if the light turns red, and with near-side signals you wouldn't be able to see it turn red if already in the intersection), and for drivers waiting at a red light, when it turns green they must first allow drivers in the intersection to clear the intersection.

Far side signals are better in general, and I've even heard Europeans comment that they wish their traffic signals were mounted like American signals are.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2021, 12:36:25 PM »

It's worth noting that some countries that use near-side signals include a small signal about 5 ft off the ground that is angled at the first car in the queue.
Here's an example from France: https://goo.gl/maps/LnnMc6tbxyxTBfFP8

Some countries also will primarily use near-side signals, but commonly place one signal on the far side of the intersection. This is common in much of Europe, and significantly helps with visibility for the first car.
Here's an example from Spain: https://goo.gl/maps/Qqn8Kxay2KxnbUkd6

I think the ideal setup is a mix of both - far side signals can be blocked by large vehicles, near side is less visible from the stop line.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2021, 02:06:38 PM »

The best practice is a hybrid of both like NJ.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2021, 02:32:18 PM »

I'm gonna have to say I prefer signals on the far side, as signals on the near side will be very hard to see by the first car in line, which makes them prime candidate for being honked at.

That's the point I was getting at in the post I linked above yours. That post includes a picture in which you can see how the blue tint band at the top of my windshield made it a pain to see the traffic light (I held the camera at eye level at the spot where my head was without bending down).

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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2021, 10:49:23 PM »

An example of near-side traffic signals that also incorporate railroad crossing signals.  The train track runs diagonally through the intersection.  Far-side signals wouldn't be the best choice here.

https://goo.gl/maps/g1453DENiDBYTkUA6
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2021, 10:29:12 AM »

An example of near-side traffic signals that also incorporate railroad crossing signals.  The train track runs diagonally through the intersection.  Far-side signals wouldn't be the best choice here.

https://goo.gl/maps/g1453DENiDBYTkUA6

Nearsided signals work here because of the setbacks that are required for RR crossings.  The distance between the stop line and the signal head is probably equivalent to the width of a narrow street.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2021, 07:07:09 PM »

An example of near-side traffic signals that also incorporate railroad crossing signals.  The train track runs diagonally through the intersection.  Far-side signals wouldn't be the best choice here.

https://goo.gl/maps/g1453DENiDBYTkUA6


This is a different topic, but for an intersection with a railroad crossing like that, they should probably consider providing right turn lanes for those turns that don't cross the tracks, so that traffic can continue even when straight traffic is stopped by the train.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2021, 11:00:53 AM »

The far side is much better, especially for older drivers. The only time a near side signal would be acceptable for an intersection is if the street/arterial meets a divided highway.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2021, 11:26:37 AM »

It's worth noting that near side signals work better when you have the stop bar far enough back from the intersection and DRIVERS ACTUALLY STOP AT THE STOP BAR.  In my experience, this is more of a problem in America than in Europe.

Related to the near-side vs far-side debate, and arguably intermixed with it, is overhead vs side-mounted.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2021, 12:44:48 PM »

An example of near-side traffic signals that also incorporate railroad crossing signals.  The train track runs diagonally through the intersection.  Far-side signals wouldn't be the best choice here.

https://goo.gl/maps/g1453DENiDBYTkUA6

similar thing near fort collins: https://goo.gl/maps/giVxHDaKHCCH2Vdt7

fun fact: the light here will never give you a green arrow, in any direction. it's always flashing yellow.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2021, 12:49:43 PM »

It's worth noting that near side signals work better when you have the stop bar far enough back from the intersection and DRIVERS ACTUALLY STOP AT THE STOP BAR.  In my experience, this is more of a problem in America than in Europe.
Yea, I mentioned this in the op, with an example in the Netherlands. Since a lot of intersections there have both a crosswalk and wide bike lane crossing the road, I figured that those two factors, as well as drivers stopping behind the stop line, may make an overhead near side signal easier to see as the first car in line.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2021, 12:56:41 PM »

All-or-nothing has never made sense to me. I've long preferred a combination of near-side and far-side signals, much like SkyPesos, with post-mounted signals.


In the US, states like California and Wisconsin are well known for their combination of near-side and far-side signals, as well as certain Illinois districts (Chicago).

In Europe, I think Denmark is probably most well known for their near-side and far-side signals, unlike most of Europe where near-side-only is most common.


It should be noted that stop-line (aka near-side) signals are required when the distance to the signal is 180 feet or greater. Some places used 150 feet (Federal Way, WA).

The 2009 MUTCD was going to include a provision that would have required near-side signals for all roads with a posted limit of 40mph or greater, but was dropped at some point. This intersection in Vancouver, WA was designed in advanced of this provision.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2021, 11:02:41 PM »

Old Cheney Road at 56th Street in Lincoln, NE - which has a railroad running diagonally across the intersection - has mainly near side signals for eastbound and westbound.

Highway 2 at 14th Street in Lincoln, NE also has mainly near side heads for eastbound and westbound.

Randall Road at Hopps Road near Elgin, IL has somewhat near side heads for northbound and southbound.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2021, 11:13:09 AM »

Here in Russia most intersections have both nearside and farside traffic signals (in my city atleast) , though only the nearside signals are required.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2021, 09:08:00 PM »

In Europe, I think Denmark is probably most well known for their near-side and far-side signals, unlike most of Europe where near-side-only is most common.

Presumably you mean continental Europe. I would've assumed more Americans would be familiar with British signals which are also usually a mix - the most basic set up being a nearside signal onside (left) at the stop bar and a farside signal on the offside (right) corner. Scandinavian countries area similar to the UK, as are Australia & New Zealand.

Some continental countries use farside side signals in specific circumstances. Luxembourg is generally nearside only but they often put left turn signals on the far left corner, for instance.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2021, 09:11:49 PM by Mr Kite »
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #20 on: December 13, 2021, 04:36:12 PM »

My take here is pretty simple: Far-side signals are good for cars right at the front of the line, and near-side signals are good for cars that are farther back in line. Since you should be prepared to accommodate cars that are at the front of the line AND those at the back of the line, you should have both a near-side signal and a far-side signal.

Semis/tractor trailers are very good at blocking vehicles' view of the far-side signals.  I believe that's why Illinois has a requirement that a near-right signal be placed at all signalized approaches that are truck routes.  You'll often see the near-right signal omitted in downtowns of Illinois towns that don't anticipate truck traffic.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #21 on: December 17, 2021, 08:52:34 AM »

Two examples of near-side signals I can think of are both near each other in Cambridge, ON:
1) Due to a low railway overpass, Water at Samuelson has both a near and far pair of lights (street view link)
2) The right turn signals for NB Dundas St at Hespeler/Water St are on the near side since it separates them from the thru-only signals on the far side (street view link)

Personally I'm fine with just far-side signals (unless there's sightline issues). I find it rare that they aren't sufficient, so I don't feel like the extra cost of universal far and near-side signals would be worth it.
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Re: Near side vs far side placed traffic signals
« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2021, 01:57:03 PM »

In the L.A. area, the far most common practice is far-side signals being the primary signals, with some near side supplemental signals in many of the wider intersections.

When crossing a street with a particularly wide median (often streets that used to have streetcars in the median), the signals would be placed in the median.  These are far-sided in the sense that they are way ahead of the stop line, but in no way are they placed at the far end of the intersection.  Rather these are placed in the middle of the intersection, due to the far side being way too far to adequately see the signal.  Growing up, I remember these median signals being the only signals for streets crossing the wide median streets of Burton Way, San Vicente, Huntington Dr, and Hawthorne Blvd, but now many of these intersections have supplemental signals in the normal locations for near side and far side.

Here is an interesting one at Pico/San Vicente.  Since the wide median is only to the west, the singal facing this point of view is actually a near side signal.  It seems like a far side, becasue the crosswalk and stop line are so far ahead of the intersection.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0484575,-118.3398203,3a,37.5y,107.17h,85.55t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s9X4qcK4LFdElAkAOAUyyaQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Artesia Blvd EB at Hawthorne.  Supplemental near side signals, but no supplemental far side signals.  Primary signals in Hawthorne's median.  Coming the other way, there are far sided left turn signals, but in this direction there aren't since left turns are prohibited.

https://www.google.com/maps/@33.87273,-118.3529815,3a,37.5y,96.51h,86.18t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sGdUA3uRDSF7HsgNl5VAnzQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Here again at Foothill/Euclid in Upland, CA, you see the primary signals in the median with supplemental near side signals, but no supplemental far side signals.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.1070808,-117.6508516,3a,75y,267.39h,90.27t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBMws5kavf3oSqG-VAMJASQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Barrington at San Vicente.  Primary median signals with supplemental far side signals.

https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0535463,-118.4654891,3a,75y,339.22h,93.83t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1smkywMjJfE7R_ri3Vzouw9g!2e0!7i16384!8i8192
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