Can we trust that when traffic stops at a signal, it's time for pedestrians to cross?
At intersections with traffic signals, some people who are blind assume that when traffic stops on the street they are crossing, it's because that street has a red light and it's time for pedestrians to cross it.
Modern signals have complex traffic patterns that make this assumption no longer reliable.
These videos illustrate one of many examples where it can be dangerously misleading to assume that it's time to cross whenever you hear stopped traffic on the street you want to cross.
This crossing is in Corpus Cristi where North Shoreline Boulevard is divided by a very large median into two 3-lane streets that travel north and south along the edge of Corpus Cristi Bay (the water is to the east).
What may not be readily apparent to pedestrians is that the vehicles traveling north on North Shoreline Boulevard in the lane closest to the water do not normally have to stop when other traffic on that street stops for a red light.
The only time traffic in that lane has to stop is when a pedestrian pushes the button and gets a WALK signal.
Description of action shown on first video:
We are looking down at the intersection from above, and see the traffic on the intersecting street start traveling east towards the water, crossing and turning left to go north on North Shoreline Boulevard.
At the same time, 3 cars approach the intersection on North Shoreline Blvd coming from the south and heading north, and stop in the two lanes nearest to the median.
Everything looks like the signal is red for traffic on North Shoreline Boulevard and green for traffic and pedestrians travling along the intersecting street.
But then a car on North Shoreline Boulevard approaches from the south and heading north in the lane closest to the water (furthest from the divider).
It passes all the stopped cars and keeps going through the intersection.
Description of action shown on second video:
This video is taken from the median, looking at the crosswalk across the three north-bound lanes of North Shoreline Boulevard and the water beyond it.
A car approaches from our right in the farthest lane and passes through the intersection, going off to our left.
The next car approaching from the right is in the nearest lane and stops at our crosswalk, as if its light has turned red.
But then another car from the right in the farthest lane passes the stopped car and keeps going through the intersection, while a car from the intersecting street on our left crosses the intersection beside us and turns left.
Description of action shown on third video:
This last video, also taken from the median looking at the crosswalk and the water beyond it, shows a north-bound truck stopped in the nearest lane of North Shoreline Boulevard while several cars, also northbound on North Shoreline Boulevard, pass the waiting truck and proceed through the intersection.