Obey intersection rules for easier traveling

Published: Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.

Many Lane Ranger questions from readers are directed to Phil Mann, the city of Gainesville’s traffic operations manager.

The city operates traffic signals throughout Gainesville and much of Alachua County and runs the SmartTraffic program on the Internet that allows drivers to get real-time road condition information.

Mann wrote a series of traffic-related tips for readers that will be run in installments. The first installment deals with traffic signals.

* Traffic signals along the major corridors are timed to drive at the posted speed limit. Traveling the speed limit should improve your commute and minimize your stops. Traveling faster than the speed limit means that you will probably arrive at the next traffic signal before a green light returns to the main road. Keep in mind that, with the urban areas activity center locations, the city’s corridors have congestion in both directions and, during certain times of the day, the progression will favor the more heavily traveled direction at the expense of the other direction.

* Stop at the appropriate place at the intersection. The most common complaint the city gets about traffic signals is that they don’t cycle fast enough or you have to wait until somebody pulls up on the other side before the signal will change. The most common problem is that you didn’t stop at the right place. Each signalized intersection has a series of pavement markings – typically two parallel lines across the entire road for the cross walk. Just before that, a white bar that goes across your lane. The white bar is where the vehicle detector is located. If you pull past the white line or stop too far before it, the traffic signal detector doesn’t know you are there and then the signal doesn’t change until someone does stop at the correct place.

* Pedestrian signals are timed for pedestrians to cross the street. You must press the pedestrian button to activate the “WALK” light – much like the vehicle must stop at the right place to activate the green light. Once the button is pushed, the pedestrian phase will activate at its appropriate time in the signal cycle. “WALK” time is the time to get you started across the street. The flashing “DON’T WALK” time is the time to finish crossing the street. The flashing “DON’T WALK” time varies from intersection to intersection based on the distance of the crosswalk and is accompanied by a countdown number counting down the remaining time left to finish crossing the street.

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