Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are coming

June 23, 2016
Also known as a HAWK Beacon, it is a device installed at crosswalks when a regular traffic signal is not appropriate but something more than flashing lights is needed.  Caltrans made a video for people who want to know more.   Go to
to see what might be installed in a city near you in the near future.    

Mother Nature vs traffic signal pole

March 14, 2016
The Town of Moraga had a very rare occurrence of a sink hole opening up in the same location as a traffic signal pole.   My guess is that the soil around the traffic signal pole gradually washed away until there wasn't enough left to hold up the signal pole any more.   For those that don't know, the foundation for the traffic signal pole is about 9 feet deep and 2 feet around.  For the full story see
Continue reading...

Experimental Pedestrian Safety Device for Signalized Intersections

December 15, 2015
The City of Redding is testing a new type of pedestrian signal head with a yellow outline in an attempt to reduce pedestrian conflicts with right turning vehicles.   See for more information.    Please send a response post if you have direct experience with the trial or trials of other devices with a similar goal.   
Continue reading...

New median barrier on Golden Gate Bridge

January 27, 2015
For those who have not seen it yet, here is a photo of the new median barrier that was installed on the Golden Gate bridge a month ago.  
Continue reading...

New Bicycle Safety Law

October 3, 2014
The Three Feet for Safety act became law in California on September 14, 2014.  It requires drivers to stay at least three feet away from a bicyclist who is moving in the same direction when the driver is overtaking and passing the bicyclist.  The text of the act is now part of the Vehicle Code and can be seen at

The law imposes a $35 fine for drivers who pass too close if the bicyclist is not injured, and $220 if the bicyclist is injured, unles...
Continue reading...

Creative Pedestrian Signal

September 26, 2014
There are signalized pedestrian crossings in many large cities.  Getting pedestrians to take full advantage of the signals and stay safe is often a challenge.  Here is how one US city is being creative:

And here is an alternative from Germany:

Continue reading...

GPS Clocks

September 12, 2014
Question:  How do I tell if a traffic signal controller is equipped with a GPS or satellite clock?
Answer:  The first clue is shown in the photo below.  There should be an antenna on the top of the cabinet, often referred to as a puck because of its shape.  

Inside the cabinet the unit is typically mounted in the back, near the top of the rack, as shown in the photo.  In this case it is a McCain clock unit.  

The black cable connects to the antennae.  The grey cable connects to the controller un...
Continue reading...

Terminal strips

September 4, 2014

Terminal compartments are part of a traffic signal installation that allows circuits to be connected without using splices in pull boxes.  The picture below shows what is inside.  There are two pictures of the same terminal strip, taken from either side.  In the first picture you will see the posts numbered from 1-12.  The posts go all the way through.  In the second picture you can see single wires attached to 6 of the posts.  You can attach up to 3 wires per side, or 6 wires total. 



Continue reading...

Protected Permissive Left Turns

July 16, 2014
Mid-sized and smaller cities have frequently chosen to provide protected left turn phasing on main street approaches of signalized intersections, citing a belief that it provided safer operations.  Recently however, this traditional belief has been challenged for a variety of reasons.  An option that combines protected phasing with permitted phasing emerged and is starting to see deployment.  Also, federal research identified a new approach in the signal display, using a flashing yellow arrow...
Continue reading...

Traffic Adaptive Systems in the US

July 2, 2014
Traffic adaptive systems are computer systems that coordinate traffic signals by continually monitoring traffic volumes and making updates to the coordination plan every few seconds.  The concept is intended to provide ideal traffic signal operations through a corridor with multiple traffic signals.  A dozen years ago there were very few adaptive systems deployed in the US, and these were mostly in large cities with very high volumes of traffic.  Now a large number of systems have been deploy...
Continue reading...
blog comments powered by Disqus

About Us

Steve Fitzsimons If you would like to ask a question about driving rules, traffic signals or street lights, send your questions to: or call 650-314-8313. Steve Fitzsimons is a professional Civil Engineer and Traffic Engineer in California. He is a principal at W-Trans. Find out more about W-Trans at **** If you need a traffic signal design or review, W-Trans is available for hire. If you are an electrical contractor, W-Trans is available for hire to prepare timing plans or traffic control plans.
Make a Free Website with Yola.