Traffic lights downtown
Has anyone else noticed that the timing on the traffic lights downtown is now completely facacta? I used to be able to come up Strawberry Way (the alley by Wiener World) and make a right on Cherry/William Penn Way. Usually I’d have to stop at the light at 6th and William Penn but when that changed I could make it all the way to the Blvd. of the Allies without stopping. Now, it’s impossible to do that. And when you turned left out of William Penn Way onto the Boulevard, the light at Grant would turn green a few seconds later. Last night I turned left and the light at Grant turned RED a few seconds later. Ditto Smithfield Street inbound in the morning. I used to be able to hit every light green once I got rolling from where the jail trail sidewalk ends at the bridge. Now that’s also nearly impossible.
The change seems to date back to the Penguins victory parade when they had a lot of lights flashing downtown, but I feel likes its even worse since the G-20.
In addition to being annoying for cyclists, this is insane for cars. If they are stopped, they aren’t doing anything at all but spewing carbon in the air, and they are getting stopped repeatedly too. I can’t imagine how much fuel and pollution would be saved if they would just fix the timing on these lights. Or did I just have an extraordinary run of luck for the past couple years and they’ve always been bad?
311 it. City traffic light timing comes under the heading of city maintenance. Definitely not PennDOT or the County.
I did notice a month or two ago that the timing on Stanwix and the Boulevard of the Allies had changed a bit.
I’ll let the penguins know that they need to win another championship in hopes it will correct things.
This will probably happen before the city gets to it.
Traffic light timing is probably my number one pet peeve. Can’t they even figure out to time such a straightforward stretch as Liberty ave through the strip?
I was in Quebec this summer and it seemed like everything was timed impeccably, I couldn’t figure it out… someone has to lose in two-way timing but it didn’t ever seem to be me.
slow and steady…
slow, slow, and steady, and slow. But at least someone is working on it.
The re-timing of the lights along McKnight from Red Lobster to Perrymont Road a few years back cost $7 million. However, there was more to it than visiting all the control boxes and jiggling a dial. A good bit of professional engineering studies went into figuring out what would work well, and how to keep them in sync across power outages. It really does work pretty well now.
I’d bet a similar amount of work and money would be needed Downtown. If it already has been spent, it’s still going to cost some to revisit all the boxes and jiggle the dials. Something to think about the next time you hear about the city budget’s line items.
Once upon a time the city had an Ace #1 L337 haxor traffic engineer toiling on this project. And the city let him go. then they rehired him as a consultant that makes more munneh…
I left USX and had to stop at 6th street but once I was through that light I was able to ride steadily down Grant and only had to stop at the turn onto First Avenue. I don’t think I’ve ever heat all those lights before.
I would say something wasn’t right with the lights but, at leat this time, it worked to my advantage.
I see two possibilities:
1. The timing is facacta.
2. The timing has been changed to improve priority for the traffic on the major roads, but since you’re using one of the secondary roads, you’re in the group that got the screw.
And then this morning I was able to make it most of the way through on Smithfield without stopping. I suppose it’s not a huge deal one way or the other, in the long run I still get to ride up the jail trail in the afternoon, evenutally moving much faster than the traffic on the Parkway East.
Before 7:00am I can travel without stopping on grant from 2nd avenue to 11th at the bus station. After 7:00am it’s the same as it ever was…
Somehow this Yogi Berra quote seems applicable to the concept of traffic load patterns with respect to light timing:
“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”
I thought this post was going to be about lights that aren’t coordinated at any given intersection. i.e. the (two) lights hanging over the travel lanes are one color (often red) while the one on the post on the street corner attached to the light/telephone pole is another color (green) even for traffic going the same direction. I’m not sure what’s going on here, and hope I’m explaining it semi-clearly. I called 311 like 6 months ago to report it at Penn and Negley, and I think it wasn’t quite fixed as of a few days ago. It certainly creates an ambiguous situation and is perhaps dangerous, though I can’t be sure.
Hah! I think that’s supposed to be a walk signal. It indicates the condition of the advance/delayed green from the other direction that the pedestrian can’t see. I never thought that someone would try to drive through it, but I guess they might.
The intersection of Penn and Negley should get some kind of special award. It’s amazing. It’s a really wide intersection with multiple lanes going in both directions, extra turn lanes, and plenty of traffic lights and signs. Sounds great, right? Yet, somehow, it’s completely messed-up. No matter which direction you’re going, or whether you’re on a bike, in a car, or walking, it doesn’t work right.
@JZ Huh? I bike, drive or walk through Penn & Negley almost daily from all directions. It never struck me as anything but straightforward.
I am in agreement with Lyle. Pretty sure the lights on the poles are to be walk signals. For example, say you are at the South-East corner wanting to walk West on Penn, crossing Negley. If traffic going East on Penn has both a green turn signal and green light the light on the post opposite you will go green to let you walk through even though your driving brethren wanting to go the same direction (albeit on the other side of the road) have a red.
Traffic lights were not, are not and never will be used for directing pedestrians. The lights at the corners are old. The new lights hanging over the roadways are new, but tap into the old light’s power and timing control.
The left turn signals run on a timing subroutine that the older lights are not sequenced with.
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