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STREET SMART

Intersection Signals Are Keeping Pace With Pedestrians

March 13, 1995|SARA CATANIA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

Pedestrians in Oxnard are like Rodney Dangerfield: We don't get no respect.

Years ago, if you were in the middle of the street trying to get to the other side, cars would stop and wait.

Nowadays all the emphasis is on keeping the cars moving. Nobody gives a hoot about somebody trying to walk.

The only thing pedestrians have to rely on is the walk signal. Too often these signals don't last long enough for a pedestrian to get from one side of the street to the other.

We walk in Oxnard regularly, and have found this to be a particular problem at the intersection of Gonzales and Ventura roads.

Can anything to be done to increase the walk time and give pedestrians a break?

Charles and Eleanor Asprion, Oxnard

Dear Reader:

The city of Oxnard uses the same standards as everyone else to figure out how much walk time pedestrians should have.

A recent check at Gonzales and Ventura showed that the signals there allow plenty of time for pedestrians to get across the street, says David Denton, transportation modeler for Oxnard.

However, many pedestrians become unnecessarily anxious when the signal changes from the solid "Walk" indicator to the flashing "Don't Walk."

"What most people don't realize is when the light starts flashing it doesn't mean all of a sudden you're a target to get hit," says Denton. "As long as you've already started walking when the light starts flashing, you should have plenty of time to make it across."

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Dear Street Smart:

Although your column focuses mostly on drivers, I'd like to put in a word for people who walk.

It is getting more and more difficult to walk across a busy intersection without running out of time on the walk signal.

I see a lot of people, especially the elderly, struggling to make it across before the cars come zooming by.

I've noticed this problem crossing Moorpark Road at Gainsborough Road.

I don't think drivers would mind if you added a little more time to the walk light. It would be much safer that way.

Juanita Wilson, Thousand Oaks

Dear Reader:

Putting his best foot forward, Jeff Knowles, Thousand Oaks assistant traffic engineer, took to the streets himself and found that pedestrians do have enough time to make it across the city's streets.

The city times the walk signals based on an industry standard that calls for one second of walking time for every four feet of roadway.

According to that standard, pedestrians on Moorpark have ample time to make it across.

The road is 93 feet wide, and pedestrians there get 28 1/2 seconds of walking time.

This includes seven seconds of the white walking figure on the signal, 16 seconds of the red flashing hand, plus an additional 5 1/2 seconds of the solid red hand before the cross traffic gets a green light.

To ensure that pedestrians are not getting short shrift, Knowles recently crossed several streets with a Thousand Oaks resident who uses a wheelchair.

"I'm always concerned to see whether this standard is adequate," Knowles says. "What I've found is that it really is."

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Dear Street Smart:

A traffic signal would be a big improvement at the intersection of Santa Rosa and Upland roads in Camarillo.

This is a T-shaped intersection with a stop sign for cars going from Upland onto Santa Rosa. The problem is that busy Santa Rosa is only two lanes, and cars are going 55 m.p.h and more.

It is very difficult to safely pull out into this kind off traffic. A stop light would make it a lot easier.

Joe Giammanco, Camarillo

Dear Reader:

The good news is a signal is planned for the intersection of Upland and Santa Rosa.

The bad news is it may take awhile.

Right now, there is not enough traffic at the intersection to qualify it for a signal under state guidelines, says Tom Fox, Camarillo traffic engineer.

But the city expects the traffic volume to grow because the area is zoned for new development, and Santa Rosa is a regional road used by motorists traveling to several other cities.

"We don't have an actual date forecast," Fox says, "But we check the traffic levels regularly, so we'll know when the volume increases."

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