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Strobe lights may confuse, but they're doing their job

By LORRIE LYKINS
Published July 1, 2007


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Seeing flashing lights and not always quite sure what to do?

Reader Helen Stevener wrote: "Early the other evening, as I approached 60th Street on First Avenue S in St. Petersburg, there were very bright strobe lights flashing and three people standing on the southeast corner to cross.

I stopped my car and waited but the family also waited and started across after the strobe lights stopped flashing, waving thanks to me for stopping.

Luckily other cars heading east were several blocks back or this could have been a disaster. ... Evidently the strobes are confusing to some people. It's a scary situation."

We checked with Mike Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation, and asked about the strobes popping up around town.

Frederick said that the "Enhancer" crosswalk light systems have been installed at 18 high traffic locations around the city as part of the CityTrails Program to address pedestrian safety.

Ten of the strobe locations are at school crosswalks.

"These new LED rectangular rapid flashing beacons are being evaluated, " Frederick said.

"We have been collecting data for just over a year now and are averaging over 82 percent motorist yielding compliance when the button is pushed to activate the crosswalk lights, " Frederick said.

"While the new lights may be confusing to some motorists, state Statute 316.130 should not be, as every motorist is required to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, whether there are lights flashing or not.

"We've simply added the new lighting system to help attract motorists' attention to the pedestrians, as many motorists are either distracted or unaware of the law."

Frederick said that so far, response to the new crosswalks has been "miraculous."

But while pedestrians seem to be satisfied with the added safety feature, the strobe lights will take some getting used to for drivers, Frederick said.

For this reason, police have stepped up monitoring of city crosswalks for the past year.

DOWNTOWN

Take the Looper trolley to Fourth of July fun

If you're anticipating some Independence Day reveling, make parking plans now that don't involve blocking residential driveways or alleyways downtown.

Here's one option: the Looper Downtown Trolley will provide nine hours of free shuttle service for Fourth of July festivities throughout the day.

There will be parking available at city-owned and private lots, but if you're planning to head downtown, get there early to avoid the expected heavy traffic before the fireworks start about 9 p.m.

The city has designated the South Core garage as the primary city-owned parking facility for the Fourth with a shuttle stop at the corner of First Avenue and First Street S to transport passengers to the Pier, North Straub Park and Vinoy Park in five- to 10-minute loops.

For more information and to view a route map online, go to www.loopertrolley.com.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please share your traffic concerns, comments and questions with Dr. Delay via e-mail at docdelay@yahoo.com.

[Last modified June 30, 2007, 23:40:13]


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