Sunday, May 31, 2009

Crossing difficult for visually impaired pedestrians

THE PROBLEM: Few pedestrian signals allow people crossing a street to dawdle. The symbol of a walking person illuminates for just seconds before the orange, upraised hand flashes, warning others not to leave the curb.

At an intersection in Spring Valley, Elsie Luranc knows two people who have trouble moving quickly enough.

One is a woman who uses a wheelchair, and the other is a blind man. They both traverse the T intersection at Broadway, Spring Street and Campo Road almost daily, but Luranc said the timing of the signal keeps them apprehensive. With five lanes of traffic to cross, a longer interval would make the busy street feel safer, she said.

Luranc wasn't sure whom to ask about the possibility of adjusting the signal.

STATUS: Just Fix It checked and found the walk signal goes for about six seconds before flashing orange. The flashing-orange cycle lasted about 20 seconds more. Pedestrians had just a few more seconds before lights turned green in the opposite direction, allowing cross-traffic through, so total crossing time was 30 or 31 seconds.

Michael Robinson, deputy director of the county transportation division, said timing of the Spring Street signal is controlled by Caltrans because of its proximity to ramps serving state Routes 94 and 125. Signals typically give pedestrians about one second per four feet, Robinson said, and the timing at Spring sounded about right to him.

Robinson noted a delay of even a few seconds could cause backups for vehicles using the two freeways, but he has put Luranc in touch with a traffic signal program coordinator who will investigate the matter further, possibly installing a chirping signal to guide visually impaired pedestrians.

WHO'S RESPONSIBLE: Michael Robinson, who can be reached at , or (858) 874-4040 for public road issues in unincorporated portions of San Diego County.

NEED A PROBLEM SOLVED: Is there a problem that government hasn't taken care of despite your complaints? Whether it's a sidewalk obstruction or vast pothole anywhere in San Diego County, Just Fix It might be able to help.

Complaint forms are at, or call (800) 820-8714.

Jeff Ristine: (800) 820-8714;


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