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Fixing wacky signal lights; giving cyclists the right of way, readers want to know
Dear Street Smarts, Q What’s up with the signal light along 7th Avenue at Soquel Avenue? I go to work at 5 a.m. each day and the light holds in the red for a very long time. Sometimes I have to run it — after stopping, of course — because it won’t change and let me go. Can you help get it fixed? Thanks, Mike A Done. The signal maintenance crew took a look at it and discovered that “it was giving a pedestrian crossing phase each time even though no one pushed the button,” said Jock Sohriakoff, county traffic engineer. “This delayed traffic on Soquel Avenue and gave green time to 7th even when there wasn’t any traffic demand.” That light has been fixed. Q My son and I cross Morrissey Boulevard at Fairmount Avenue going east when we bike to and from his school. Cars turning right, or south, from Fairmount onto Morrissey are only watching the Morrissey crosswalk, where bikers cross to get to De Laveaga School. As soon as the ‘walk’ light appears on Morrissey, cars start flying around the corner, and my son and I cannot cross. We do not have this problem at any other right-turning intersection. Thanks, Ramona. Tory Wilson, Santa Cruz A “Cars turning right are required to yield to pedestrians prior to making their turn,” said Capt. Steve Clark, of the Santa Cruz Police Department. “As I read the question, they are on bicycles, and thereby conceded their ‘pedestrian’ status. In this case, the cars turning right are required to ‘merge’ with the bicycle lane for eastbound Fairmount and then make their turn. If the bicycles are there first, then they — the bicycles — have the right of way.” His department has received similar complaints from others about this intersection, he said. Clark has alerted the traffic unit of the continuing problem so officers can beef up enforcement. Rule of the week When school buses flash their red lights, located at the top front and back of the bus, drivers in both directions must stop until the students are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing. Failure to stop draws a fine of $1,000 and the suspension of your driver’s license for one year. However, if the school bus is on the other side of a divided roadway or the road has two or more lanes in each direction, drivers don’t have to stop. Source: California Driver Handbook via www.dmv.ca.gov.
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