City’s Decision on ‘Right Turn on Red’ Conflicts with Guidelines and Observations
Chris Parsley, president of the Falls Area Bicyclists, was on The Patrick Lalley Show on Tuesday to preview his appearance before the Sioux Falls City Council.
Parsley has been a critic of the city's decision to allow right turns on red at 10th and 11th streets where they intersect with Minnesota Avenue. You'll remember that I share his concern about this policy.
One of the reasons Mayor Mike Huether and his administration gave to allow red turns "When Pedestrians Are Not Present" was that pedestrian traffic is down at those intersections and this policy is working well at West 26th Street and Discovery Avenue. This is an intersection on the western edge of Sioux Falls near Memorial Middle School.
On Tuesday, Parsley and FAB President-elect Michael Christiansen fairly well deconstructed the city's logic with facts and data and federal guidelines for signage.
You can watch that here. Michael is at 7 minutes and Chris is at about 21 minutes.
Here's the text of Chris's statement:
My name is Chris Parsley. I am President of Falls Area Bicyclists. We are the non-profit bicycle advocacy organization in Sioux Falls. I am also certified by The League of American Bicyclists as a Cycling Instructor. I am here speaking on behalf of the bicycling community in Sioux Falls. I spoke to this group a month ago about the changes made to the signage at the intersection of 10th & Minnesota Ave. relating to turning right on red. I filmed drivers turning right on red for one hour. What the video shows is a recipe for disaster. A point I made was that one has to imagine that this isn’t an isolated problem for 10th and Minnesota.
A few days after that, a press release was issued with Public Works Director Mark Cotter listed as the contact person. In this release, it states that one of the “key data points used to inform the decision to make changes at the 10th/11th Street and Minnesota Avenue intersections” was “The “No Turn on Red When Pedestrians Present” signs have been effective and safe at other locations in the city, such as 26th Street and Discovery Avenue.”
I decided to take my GoPro camera to the intersection of 26th & Discovery. I filmed for one hour. I was able to capture all right turning motorists except for those that turned right from Discovery to head west on 26th St. During this hour I counted 15 children on bicycles and 19 pedestrians. 15 of those pedestrians were also children. Twenty-three motorists turned right on red. Nine of those turned right on red while pedestrians were present. Fourteen of the twenty-three did not come to a complete stop. One motorist even turned left on a red light (show photo) 39% of the right on red turning motorists did so when pedestrians were present. Is this what the city considers “effective and safe?”
The official ruling by The Federal Highway Administration, "2-635 (I) - When Pedestrians Are Present.", “does not encourage the use of "When Pedestrians Are Present" legends with No Turn on Red signs, because the meaning is vague and there is an inherent lack of clearly defined criteria for enforcement. A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that signs prohibiting right turns on red during specified hours were very effective in terms of driver compliance but signs giving drivers discretion to turn right on red based on whether pedestrians are present were not effective because the vague message makes enforcement difficult.” I looked at the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). There is not a sign with the legend "No Turn on Red When Pedestrians Are Present."
I ask you to do one or more of the following: Change the yellow pedestrian signs to signs with flashing yellow or white led’s around the edge. A quick internet search found this sign that conforms to the specifications of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) set forth in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices readily available for less than $2000. These signs are solar powered and can be wirelessly triggered to flash when the pedestrian crossing button is pressed. (show video clip of sign flashing) Take down all “when pedestrians present” signage and prohibit turning right on red at any intersection that currently has the “when pedestrians present” signs. Replace all “when pedestrians present” signs with signs prohibiting right turns on red during specified hours when higher numbers of pedestrians are expected, such as when kids are walking to and from school and when people are likely to be walking to and from work. Thank you for your time and I can be available anytime if any of you are interested in further discussion of this issue.