Sean from Broomfield writes, "What's driving you crazy? Drivers near Flatirons mall consistently pull their car into or entirely beyond the crosswalks. Why do they do this? It not only violates the rules of the road, it is incredibly dangerous for pedestrians!"
This is a very unique problem, Sean. Most intersections are set up where vehicles stop a few feet from the cross-traffic lanes. That is where traffic engineers put the stop bar and just ahead of that is the crosswalk. However, this setup in many of the Interlocken intersections is much different. I measured about 50 feet of space between the crosswalk and the cross-traffic lanes. Contrary to your belief, this layout does not violate the rules of the road.
I spoke with Kimberly Dall, the director of Public Works for the City and County of Broomfield. She tells me that the original idea for these crosswalks was intended to provide a protected intersection for pedestrians and vehicles. The idea was to have the crosswalks laid out far ahead of the traffic light so it would allow for a vehicle to stop in front of or behind the pedestrian crossing and still have the pedestrians visible to drivers. She says for the most part, the layout has worked fine.
One Denver7 viewer told me he believes the crosswalks were designed ahead of the main intersection to accommodate the now retired Zip Shopping Shuttle. The unique looking free-to-ride shuttles with the driver in a little cab separated from the rest of the passenger cabin portion of the shuttle, transported passengers around the large complex of stores on the city roads.
The layout of the shuttle put the passenger door in a place where the passengers could jump on and off at the crosswalks allowing room for the driver portion of the shuttle to not stick out into the intersection. American City & County described the shuttle as, “a passenger-friendly, low-to-the-ground, European-born tram that calls to mind theme parks more than it does traditional transit.” They called the trams “City Roamers” adding the vehicles were the first of their kind to be used in the United States. The shuttles were retired at the end of 2009.
I watched many drivers roll past the crosswalk and stop where you think you should stop at a traffic light. Some drivers stopped on the crosswalk, blocking it while others stopped before the crosswalk.
Sergeant Todd Dahlbach with Broomfield police tells me they don’t have any recorded traffic incidents with pedestrians since the development of the roads and crosswalks around the mall. Dahlbach added that if a driver encroaches their vehicle on the crosswalk, the Broomfield Police Department would look at two different Colorado State Statutes. The first is, CRS 42-4-604(C) Failed To Stop at Place Required. Basically, this statute requires drivers to stop for a red light at the clearly marked stop bar, or if no stop bar is present, before entering the crosswalk or before entering the intersection. The second is, CRS 42-4-709 Stop When Traffic Obstructed. This statute states, “No driver shall enter...a marked crosswalk...unless there is sufficient space on the other side of the...crosswalk...to accommodate the vehicle the driver is operating without obstructing the passage of...pedestrians.”
Since the original construction of the area roads around the mall, Broomfield Public Works tells me they reviewed additional guidance and information for pedestrian crosswalks that has become available. Dall tells me the city, in alignment with the guidance derived from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, will make some changes. Typical stop bar and crosswalk layouts are provided in MUTCD; Section 3B.16-3B.18 Crosswalk Markings. Broomfield is in the process of adding stop bars, enhancing the crosswalks with striping, and adding signage to help drivers understand that vehicles are to stop prior to the crosswalk at intersections near the mall.
“We are also enhancing the crosswalk with ‘Stop Here on Red’ signs to help drivers stop prior to the crosswalk,” Dall said.
Some of those signs are already in place at various crosswalks. Dall tells me they are expecting to receive the necessary materials by July 31 and will then schedule the work once they receive everything they need to make the improvements. The total project cost for the striping and signs is anticipated to be $13,500.
UPDATE 8/11/21: Several viewers asked me if the new stopping area will affect the way the traffic lights change when they pull up to a traffic light. Kimberly Dall, director of Public Works for the City and County of Broomfield tells me, "The traffic signal detection has not been set to detect vehicles in front of the crosswalk closer to the intersection. Drivers may think that pulling up closer will cause the signal to change faster, similar to pedestrians that believe pushing the crosswalk button multiple times will cause the signal to change more quickly. Neither activity will increase the speed at which the signal will change. The main through streets around the mall are on a signal timing coordination plan to help the high volumes of traffic flow smoothly. The signal timing and coordination changes based on the time of day; when traffic volumes are lower the traffic signals will change more quickly."
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