change the signal at J St and 13th St

The signal at J Street and 13th Street in downtown Sacramento (shown at right) does not work well for pedestrians. The signal cycle is long, even compared to other signals on J Street, so the wait for pedestrians is quite long. I have seen the signal cycle skip both pedestrian crossings and vehicle crossings a number of times, which means that the wait is doubly long. Most walkers respond to this long wait by simply crossing the street against the pedestrian signal, and I don’t blame them at all.

A second issue is that the signal is set so that the east crosswalk walk mode occurs at the same time as the left turn from 13th Street southbound to J Street eastbound, meaning there is always a conflict between pedestrians and drivers at this point, and this conflict has been created by the signal setup. Many drivers cut directly behind or in front of people walking, as they know if they wait until the crosswalk is clear, as the law requires, they won’t make the signal.

This signal should be reconfigured so that it gives priority to pedestrians, without making them wait an unreasonable period of time, and does not create unnecessary conflict between turning drivers and people walking. The east crosswalk at a minimum needs a longer leading pedestrian interval (LPI).

Even better would be to make this a pedestrian scramble intersection, with an all-direction crossing phase during which all vehicle turning movement are prohibited. The intersection can be marked with diagonal crosswalks, and additional diagonal pedestrian signal head added, however, simply changing the signal timing is sufficient as an initial step. This is a busy crosswalk intersection, with the convention center on one corner, the Sheraton Grand on another, and the parking garage for the Sheraton and others on the third corner. It is alway busy, and the people crossing here are commonly tourists, who are likely used to more advanced ‘world class’ cities where pedestrians are not second class citizens after car drivers.

Note: There are a number of busy pedestrian crossing intersection in the Sacramento central city that deserve an upgrade, but this is the one that most irritates me, whether walking or bicycling.

Author: Dan Allison

Dan Allison is a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in the Sacramento area. Dan dances and backpacks, as much as possible.