Ticktock is your cue to scoot

Ten, nine, eight …

There’s nothing like a countdown to get my competitive juices flowing.

Seven, six, five …

I know I’m supposed to stop when I see those orange numbers flashing at me when I walk up to a crosswalk in downtown Everett.

Four, three, two …

Instead, I take it as a challenge – and run across the road.

One, zero …

Whew! I made it safely across the street, but just barely.

Sixteen new crosswalk “time bombs” have popped up in downtown Everett this month, flashing beacons that are supposed to make those afoot realize that they need to hustle their butts across the road or turn back. (Two city intersections have had them for a year.)

In truth, you’re not supposed to step into a crosswalk once the “don’t walk” light starts flashing, explains Dongho Chang, city of Everett traffic engineer.

In reality, the flashing light does tell people how much time they have to get across the road, which has been useful even if people launch themselves into the road after the countdown starts, he said. “This is mostly for safety,” Chang said. “When I surveyed them informally, people appreciated knowing the amount of time they had left” to cross the street.

Just remember, if the countdown has just started, even if just barely, you could get nailed with a jaywalking ticket if you step into the crosswalk, Chang said.

I reminded Chang that it just so happens that the city of Everett also is considering putting in cameras to catch red-light runners.

I asked him if the city will use them to spy on pedestrians trying to beat the clock.

“No,” Chang said.

Whew, saved again.

Question: Driving southbound in Silver Lake along the Everett-Bothell Highway (Highway 527) at 129th Street SE (near Fred Meyer) there are three lanes. The far-right lane has a right arrow indicating a right turn only.

Some cars are in the far right lane and go straight through the light and then turn west onto 132nd Street SE. Many drivers stay in the middle lane and then after the intersection get into the far right lane and turn right onto 132nd Street.

What are the rules? A sign would certainly help.

Marcia Liaw, Everett

Answer: Mike Swires, a state Department of Transportation traffic engineer, said workers took a look and found they could easily modify the roadway striping in the far-right southbound lane of Highway 527 at 129th Street SE to alleviate confusion and enhance safety for drivers. Currently, the lane is striped as a right-turn-only onto 129th Street, and drivers are not allowed to continue through the intersection in this lane.

However, as Liaw noted, some drive though the intersection.

After reviewing traffic volumes and considering driver expectations at this intersection, the state has decided to modify the right lane to allow traffic to either turn right at 129th Street or continue straight through the intersection and turn right on Highway 96 (132nd Street SE).

These changes to the roadway striping could be completed within the next six weeks. However, this work is weather sensitive, and may be rescheduled for drier conditions.

Ask about traffic

Have a question about traffic or street rules in Snohomish and Island counties? E-mail Street Smarts at stsmarts@heraldnet.com. The Street Smarts blog is at www.heraldnet.com/streetsmarts.

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