At major intersections in Malone, where pedestrians have a "Walk/Don't Walk" signal, vehicular traffic is often allowed to proceed simultaneously with pedestrians after a 4-6 second delay. This is termed a "concurrent with green pedestrian delay" phase of the traffic signal and allows traffic moving parallel to the pedestrian to receive a green light 4-6 seconds after the pedestrian receives a walk signal, allowing vehicles to receive a green light sooner than if the pedestrian walk phase was "exclusive," meaning that no vehicles would receive a green light until the entire walk phase ended.
Malone intersections with this feature include W. Main Stret and Finney Boulevard, E. Main and Elm, E. Main and Pearl, and E. Main and Raymond Street. This gives the pedestrian time to get out into the middle of the intersection where they are more visible to turning vehicles. It also substantially reduces the wait time for vehicles.
However, there is a drawback. A motorist wanting to make a left or right turn at these intersections may have a ball green light (no arrows) while the pedestrian also has a "walk" signal. Thus, there is the potential for a conflict between the pedestrian and the turning vehicle.
It is imperative that turning motorists be aware that they MUST YIELD to pedestrians already in the crosswalk. This is actually true at ANY intersection, whether or not pedestrian crossings are controlled by walk/don't walk lights or not - TURNING VEHICLES MUST ALWAYS YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.
In some cases, pedestrians get a "walk" signal AND vehicles get a green light simultaneously. An example of this is at W. Main Street and Harrison Street in Malone. Here, the pedestrian gets a "walk" signal to cross Harrison at the same time vehicles on Main Street get a green light. This is deemed a "concurrent" pedestrian signal. Again, motorists wishing to turn from Main onto Harrison MUST yield to pedestrians crossing Harrison.
Concurrent pedestrian walk signals, and concurrent with the green pedestrian delay feature has not always been the case in Malone. Crosswalks formerly had "exclusive" pedestrian phases, meaning no traffic could move for the entire pedestrian phase. In Saranac Lake, the intersection at Main Street and River Street has an exclusive pedestrian phase, often resulting in lengthy vehicle backups waiting for a green signal.
With increased traffic, this "exclusive" pedestrian phase is no longer a desirable option. However, with any change, there is a learning curve. Now, local motorists must realize that pedestrians could be crossing in a crosswalk while they have a green light, and pedestrians with a "walk" signal must realize that motorists may have a green light at the same time.
If we are all aware of the changes and know the laws that apply under each circumstance, we may all share the roadways safely. For more articles on traffic safety, go to the Traffic Safety Board's Web site at: www.franklincony.org.
Dave Werner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.