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Pedestrians and cars can cohabitate on Mission Street
Dear Street Smarts, Q: There are, I think, four places on Mission where the pedestrian is to press a button, causing lights to flash, informing the motorists to stop. The current situation is dangerous. First, the pedestrians cannot see that the lights are indeed flashing. Subsequently, the motorist that does actually see the pedestrian waiting to cross does not stop because the pedestrian does not look as if she or he is going to cross. I believe that it is rare that motorists actually see the lights flashing, much less a pedestrian trying to cross. I know that I have missed them the few times I was a motorist. Thus, the pedestrian must risk life and limb when boldly stepping into traffic. I would suggest that at the barest minimum, that there is an alert to the pedestrian that the lights are indeed flashing. Secondly, as is done on many a busy street in Seattle, flags be supplied on a rack on the post. The pedestrian will hold out a flag, carry it across to the other side and leave it in the rack on the other side. Yes, these flags will get stolen for a while, until the miscreants discover their uselessness. And if advertising were printed -- sold -- on the flags, the merchants' messages would be carried far and wide. Some other suggestions for Mission: Left turns only where there is a left turn pocket. People will quickly learn to use a nearby pocket, or, 3 right turns. Lights timed to the speed limit, 25 mph, thus taking under five, but no more than eight, minutes to traverse the two miles. Thanks for listening and passing this on to the right people. Sincerely, Gregg Ferry, Santa Cruz A: "On the issue of restricting left turns at non-signalized intersections: in the past Caltrans has offered us an opportunity to explore this option for Mission Street," said Chris Schneiter, assistant director of public works. "While we acknowledge the benefit to traffic flow, we also acknowledge reduced direct access and longer trips. The choice of restricting the left-turns to peak hours or all day is part of that discussion. So far there has not been enough public impetus and staff band width to evaluate and study the options, and go through the public process. In regard to the pedestrian flags, Seattle barely maintains the program, which began in 2008, said Jim Burr, city transportation manager. The city does not provide new flags when they are stolen, vandalized or deteriorating due to wear and tear. Nor does it start new flag crossing locations. It does, however, allow sponsors and community organizations to maintain existing flag program locations and create new locations. Even with the pedestrain flag program, the city still tells pedestrians that it is up to them to look out for their own safety while crossing streets. Saying that the flags do not guarantee safety, tips for pedestrians include: Make eye contact with approaching drivers; Wear bright clothing when out at night; Pay attention and don't cross streets while walk distracted. That means turn off headphones. And as for signal timing, that part of the question was sent to Caltrans, which has said it's about traffic volume. Simply put, there are too many cars for the road to handle.