If you are attempting to cross Lindell at Euclid and you see that the pedestrian signal is showing a solid red hand, chances are you can still safely cross the road. That is because the pedestrian countdown timer lies, reaching zero a full 15 seconds before the traffic light turns yellow.
Because the countdown timers at this intersection are so far out of sync with the traffic lights, I now completely ignore the pedestrian signals. I have seen other people ignoring the pedestrian signals and have even told people who stopped that they can safely proceed. What’s the purpose of having countdown timers if they are wildly inaccurate and ignored by the pedestrians they are meant to inform and protect?
The pedestrian countdown timers at this intersection are hardly the only ones I’ve seen that mislead pedestrians trying to cross the road. Long ago, I reported an issue with the countdown timers crossing DeBaliviere at Lindell in front of the Missouri History Museum; the intersection of Skinker and Forest Park has been a long standing issue; and countdown timers throughout downtown Clayton shortchange pedestrians by 6 seconds before the traffic lights turn yellow.
After reporting the problem with the countdown timers on Euclid at Lindell to the St. Louis CSB last month, the Traffic and Lighting division “supposedly” adjusted the timing of the signals. Supposedly is in quotes because, as of today, the pedestrian countdown timers still lie by the same 15 seconds as they did before.
While I would not take a position one way or another on whether it’s good policy, my guess is that this is done where there are high volumes of vehicles waiting to turn left or right across that crosswalk. For example, in the photo shown, when the light turns green for north/south Euclid and the pedestrian light becomes “walk”, pedestrians are able to proceed, as well as cars going straight. However, say there is a line of southbound vehicles on Euclid, many of which are waiting to turn left onto eastbound Lindell. If, hypothetically, there was a heavy stream of pedestrians in the crosswalk shown, most of them would be stuck and not get to turn during this signal cycle. If you end the pedestrian phase early, you are still giving pedestrians first priority by having them go first, then reserving the end of the phase for turning vehicles.
Certainly, this is probably a major issue at Skinker/Forest Park Parkway, especially in trying to balance the need to accomodate pedestrians and right-turning vehicles.
Again, I’m not saying whether this is sound policy or not, but sometimes this does help make the traffic flow pencil out.
I would tolerate this policy if the signal timing favored cars during the hours of greatest conflict. However, the timing is in effect 24 hours a day and makes no sense for at least 20 of those hours.
Skinker/Forest Park is quirky because only the timers crossing Skinker are out of sync with the traffic lights. The timers crossing Forest Park operate as you would expect.
Seeing as I’m intimately familiar with traffic signal timing (as well as what the city/county/state do with theirs) and the like, I’ll comment. They’re not necessarily ‘out of sync’.. The pedestrian clear time is an independant time compared to the green/yellow/red time. Case in point, you can watch some places actually have their ‘don’t walk’ still flashing THROUGH yellow and still have 1 flash left as the light turns red, while others time their ‘ped clear’ during the latter part of the green cycle, but stop flashing at yellow. I know that intersection you’re referring to. I also note there’s a phantom vehicle signal that doesn’t even point at a street, it’s pointing at the sidewalk. As a friend of mine that works for county traffic has told me.. “The city does what they want.”, That being the case, it -could- be mistimed, or it could be purposeful, as I’ve seen many strange things that the city does with their lights when i lived in the city. (i.e. their lagging single green arrows, that no one else does) Just my $.02.
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