Signals, Signs and Lights

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ABOUT SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS

To Walk or Not To Walk?

The Engineering Division receives calls from people who say that the WALK light at signalized intersections does not give them enough time to cross the street safely. The WALK light is meant to tell pedestrians that it is okay to begin crossing the street.  The walk light is not meant to stay lit for the entire time it takes for a pedestrian to walk from one curb or an island to another.  Depending on the corresponding "green-light time" for vehicles, the WALK sign may only be lit for 4 - 7 seconds.

Once the indication switches to a flashing DONT WALK, you may continue crossing until you reach a sidewalk or a safety island. Inter-sections are designed to allow enough time during this phase to complete the crossing at a normal pace.  It also means that a pedestrian must not start crossing the roadway in the direction of the indication.  Once the indication switches to a steady DONT WALK, pedestrians who may still be in the roadway should quickly finish crossing.

Pedestrians who are in the crosswalk, even during the flashing DONT WALK phase, have the right-of-way if they began their crossing during the WALK phase.  Unfortunately, many motorists are impatient or are not familiar with the law.  Do not automatically assume that motor vehicles will yield to you.

Push buttons have been installed at some busy signalized intersections to activate the WALK light.  This reduces how much time vehicles are delayed when no pedestrians are present.  Pressing this button will not result in an immediate WALK indication, so delays should be expected.  The WALK light will come on.  For more information, please contact the Engineering Division at 755-3160.

How do I request a stop sign or other traffic control?

Traffic signals, stop signs, yield signs, and other traffic control devices are most effective when used in a systematic way and where certain minimum traffic volumes or other safety factors dictate their use.  Many factors, besides existing traffic volumes, may apply. For more information, contact the Engineering Division at 755-3160.  Traffic Engineers will discuss your specific question or request with you and may provide additional information such as specific traffic counts or studies, or advise you how to initiate a request for a change.

How do I report a traffic signal malfunction?

Please report the malfunction online by clicking here or call City Services at 755-3110 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  For after hours emergency major malfunctions, call 911.  Be prepared with the exact location of the traffic signal.

How do I report a street light malfunction?

Please report the malfunction online by clicking here or call the City Services Center at 755-3110 from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to report the problem.  Be prepared with the location of the light.  Some street lights are maintained by Alliant Utility.  If this light is under their responsibility, we will notify them.

Why can’t “walk” lights at crosswalks last long enough to cross a street?

Many citizens have expressed concern that the “walk” indication at signalized intersections does not give them enough time to cross the street safely.  The “walk” light is meant to indicate to pedestrians that it is okay to begin crossing the street.  The “walk” indication will not remain lit the entire time it takes someone to walk from one curb or island to another.  When the indication switches to a flashing “don’t walk”, pedestrians in the crosswalk should continue crossing until they reach a sidewalk or safety island.

The timing of the flashing “don’t walk” indication is designed to allow enough time for pedestrians to complete crossing at a normal pace; however, please do not begin crossing the street while “don’t walk” is flashing.  Pedestrians who are in the crosswalk during the flashing “don’t walk” phase have the right-of-way provided they began crossing during the “walk” phase.  Unfortunately, many motorists are impatient or unfamiliar with the law; thus, it is important to be alert and not assume that motor vehicles will yield to pedestrians.

In order to improve the efficiency of many signalized intersections, push buttons have been installed to activate the “walk” indication.  Pressing this button will not immediately activate the “walk” light, but eventually it will illuminate.

If you would like more information regarding pedestrian crossings, contact Engineering at 755-3160.