Atherton: New El Camino stoplight is on

Bicyclists and pedestrians can turn on El Camino stoplight at Almendral Ave.

Atherton's pedestrian-activated stoplight on El Camino Real at Almendral Avenue has been turned on.

A ceremony was held at the nearby Menlo Park Fire Protection District's Station 3 at 32 Almendral Ave. Speakers included Atherton Mayor Elizabeth Lewis, Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the fire district, and Caltrans Deputy District Director Sean Nozzari.

The new stoplight is the first of three that will be installed on El Camino Real. The lights, which stay dark until activated by pedestrians or bicyclists, were requested by the town after a series of serious accidents and fatalities along the busy state highway that cuts through the town.

The Almendral light was paid for by the town of Atherton and the Menlo Park fire district, which will be able to control it to allow its vehicles to more easily travel from the fire station on Almendral.

Caltrans agreed in 2012 to pay for and install two more pedestrian-activated stoplights on El Camino at Isabella and Alejandra avenues, but Caltrans says those lights won't be installed until 2017.

The light at Almendral will be owned and maintained by Caltrans once installed.

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Like this comment
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 18, 2016 at 2:33 am

I am not familiar with exactly how this new signal works. Hence my questions.

1. Is this a traditional traffic signal with green, yellow, and red lights?

2. If this is not a standard green-yellow-red traffic signal, is there any warning before motorists are required to stop? How is this done?

3. How are motorist supposed to tell the difference between a dark signal -- one that is OFF -- and a burned-out signal bulb? Note: I believe the California Vehicle Code requires all motorists to make at least a boulevard stop at all signals where the traffic light is out, and not to proceed until the intersection is clear.

Thanks for any answers to these very important questions.


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Aug 18, 2016 at 7:05 am

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Louise68 -
Attached to this story is a photo of the light and a chart that shows the signal sequence. The three lights are in an inverted triangle, with two red lights on the top and a yellow light on the bottom. When the light is activated the yellow light will go on, followed by the two red lights. At the end of the cycle the reds will blink, meaning the motorist can proceed after stopping if no one is in the intersection.
Pedestrians and bicyclists will see walk/don't walk lights and a countdown of seconds left in the cycle.

Like this comment
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2016 at 5:17 pm

Thanks, Barbara.

But -- what on earth is wrong with a regular traffic signal? And please don't say that is "too expensive". Certainly the wealthiest Zip Code on the US can affordto pay for a proper traffic signal! There is no good reason to re-invent the wheel, and trying to get motorists used to a traffic signal that is quite different fro every other traffic signal is a very bad idea.

And the whole thing is the result of a man who darted out into traffic and got killed. A tragic mistake, and one that no traffic signal could ever prevent. No one should ever act impulsively around motor vehicles -- or even bicyclists or any moving object.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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