It's flashing yellow, can I turn?

New signal tests driver's comprehension, patience

The city of Pleasanton has changed the traffic light at Hopyard Road and Parkside Drive to a four-phase signal that motorists may have to figure out as they drive, based on the explanation given.

This new type of signal includes a "flashing yellow arrow,' which is designed to improve pedestrian safety.

According to Traffic Engineer Mike Tassano, the new signal has the usual three lighted turning arrows in red, yellow and green, plus a new flashing yellow arrow.

"The new style four-section signal functions in a similar fashion as the three section signal, but instead of the circular green indication, a flashing yellow arrow provides a direct message to drivers to cautiously enter the intersection when making a left turn," Tassano said.

In a press release explaining the new signal, Tassano said:

With this new style head, the red left turn arrow can be illuminated to restrict left turn movements while pedestrians are crossing. This option is not available with the standard three-section permissive left turn signals. The signal will allow left turns to enter the intersection when pedestrians are not present under the "flashing yellow arrow" which is the same as the "left turn yield on green ball" operation that currently exists at this location.

"The signal will also have the ability to display a solid green arrow that will provide a protected left turn to improve the efficiency of the signal during the times of the day when this intersection experiences heavy left turn traffic volumes."

It might be clearer after driving over to the intersection and trying it out.


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Posted by Rose
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Dec 23, 2013 at 8:46 am

This sounds far too complicated to me. It may confuse drivers, making the intersection less safe, rather than more safe.

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Posted by curious george
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 23, 2013 at 9:07 am

curious george is a registered user.


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Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2013 at 9:28 am

Amazing!! Traffic engineering in this town is totally screwed up. When there's an issue make up another rule to prevent it instead of resolving the real problem. Make the pedestrian WAIT for the crossing light (put in a walk/don't walk). For drivers it will now be quicker to turn right on Parkside, u turn and cross Hopyard.

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Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 23, 2013 at 10:09 am

There's a more complete explanation of this flashing yellow arrow signal at the Pleasanton city website: Web Link

My first impression was that this is a bad idea because arrow signals have always been "absolute" indicators: A green arrow means that you absolutely have the right-of-way to make the turn, and a red arrow means that you should absolutely not turn even after stopping. This new flashing arrow is different because it is not an "absolute" indicator: It says that you do NOT have the right-of-way to make the turn but you may do so if you first yield to oncoming traffic.

The flashing yellow is essentially the same as the current circular green light at intersections for those wishing to make a left turn. A circular green light means that you can make a left turn if you first yield to oncoming traffic. Apparently, a lot of people forget that you're supposed to yield to oncoming traffic when making a left with a circular green light, because there are a lot of signs at intersections reminding drivers that a green means that they need to first yield before making a left. So for those wishing to make a left, perhaps a flashing yellow light is a better indicator of their responsibility to yield than a steady green circular light. I assume that this new signal type has already been successfully used in other communities and that we're not the first.

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Posted by Mike T.
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 23, 2013 at 10:23 am

Mike T. is a registered user.

The rule boils down to this:

When the flashing yellow arrow is on, the left turn vehicles must yield to oncoming traffic.

A more detailed explanation can be found on the City's traffic web site (thaks Sam for posting the link). There are also several youtube videos that describe the operation: This one was created by the City of Santa Rosa

Web Link

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Valley Trails
on Dec 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

The article says Hopyard and Parkside, which is also Hopyard and N. Valley Trails. I live in Valley Trails and have noticed that the turn signal for Pakside is always much quicker that the one for N Valley Trails. Will this do anything to shorten my wait time, or is this just for the perple who live next to the sports park?

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm

As clear as Mud!

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Posted by Eloise
a resident of Parkside
on Dec 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

I live in Parkside and even before they put in the new one it was left turn yield. Yesterday as I was waiting for the light there was a couple waiting to cross. The flashing yellow came, these people weren't 15' to the center divider when the light changed to red. I was the only car in the intersection and there was no way a car could make it through before red if there is a pedestrian. So there I was in the middle of the street on a red light waiting for them to get far enough so I could move.
Obliviously they need to do some adjusting.

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Posted by right
a resident of Parkside
on Dec 24, 2013 at 8:57 am

Give it time. Most of the issues that lead to the necessity to try to control driver and pedestrian behavior are a result of people either being in too much of a hurry, being oblivious to their surroundings, or more commonly, not using their turn indicators to signal their intent.
I can't tell you how many times I've faced off with drivers coming from Valley trails who don't signal that they are turning left. It leaves drivers from Parkside (which is the majority of the traffic crossing Hopyard) to guess if they are going straight across Hopyard or actually turning left. This uneducated driving habit also endangers the pedestrians who are in the crosswalks, not knowing whether the cars are going to cut in front of them of go onto Parkside.
It's too bad the city is having to spend a lot of time and money to perform technical workarounds to accommodate drivers who still can't figure out what that stalk is on the left side of their steering column.

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Posted by MidiMagic
a resident of another community
on Dec 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

This is not something created locally. It is the new federal standard. It now exists in all but 4 states in the US. It became part of the US DOT Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices 4 years ago.

It's purpose is to eliminate a hazard called "yellow trap" that turning left on a circular green causes.

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Posted by MidiMagic
a resident of another community
on Dec 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

The meaning of th4e circular green and the flashing yellow arrow is the same if you are making the indicated turn.

The difference between circular green and flashing yellow arrow is the meaning given to drivers who are NOT making the indicated turn.

Circular green lets other traffic go. Flashing yellow arrow does not.

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Posted by Frank Lynn
a resident of Valley Trails
on Dec 24, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Is the new light confusing? Yes - at first for people who are new to the intersection. Would a standard left turn red/yellow/green signal be preferable for drivers? Absolutely. The problem is a lot of morons coming out of the sports park don't yield to oncoming cars and pedestrians crossing Hopyard. My son was almost killed multiple times as he crossed by drivers who sped up to turn left when they should have yielded. It's too bad there are people in this town (or who come to it for ball games) who don't have manners or common sense or know how to follow driving laws - but that's what we're dealing with here.

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Posted by Max
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 25, 2013 at 9:11 am

New traffic signals are per design. Another tool for fleecing cops to write more traffic tickets. Hence higher revenue for city, higher pensions for the court workers and cops.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 25, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I follow the SVC, or Simplified Vehicle Code:

Go at Green, Stop at Red, Consider your options at Yellow, and don't hit anything.


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Posted by Don
a resident of Ironwood
on Dec 26, 2013 at 9:25 am

I can't keep my opinion quiet on this one, but, I agree with the comment from Mike above on this one. But this brings up another subject to me that I witness every school day while standing on the corner of Valley Ave. & Northway Rd. by Harvest Park Middle School. Yes folks, I am the crazy crossing guard there trying to get people across the street in a safe manor. As a car approach's Valley Ave. wanting to turn right from Northway Rd. there is a STOP sign there, not a YIELD sign. Cars are not suppose to stop in the crosswalk, if they stop. 90% of the cars do not stop at all. They buzz right on through merging into Valley Ave. traffic. Might as well change that stop sign to YIELD. I have never seen the PPD pull over anyone for doing that. There must be a reason for the STOP sign but I can attest to the fact that very few STOP.

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Posted by Julia
a resident of another community
on Dec 26, 2013 at 10:09 am

Wake up folks...a flashing yellow light...I believe means the following..

"Slow down and proceed with caution"

Thanks for listening, Julia Pardini

PS...What do you think Cholo?????

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Posted by Daveg
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Daveg is a registered user.

Julia, for God Sakes, don't encourage Ms. Cholo!!!! She's out of control already with her nonsensical ramblings!!

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 26, 2013 at 5:48 pm

"Can I turn?" Have you ever considered doing a jig?

sorginak = strega = pardini

tee hee hee...

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Posted by Creekside
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 26, 2013 at 8:06 pm

In 80% of the world you can turn left on a solid green light with caution. They added the green arrow to speed things up buy avoiding the caution and give the right away to LHT to avoid backups. The true problem is people don't know how to drive. You either (get rid of there right to drive) or try and idiot proof the roads. The idiots will still be confused no matter what we do.

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Posted by Its New - It is Confusing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

It is confusing. There were no signs saying a lighting change was coming - or had occurred. That may have helped. First time I came upon it, I was totally taken aback - and confused.

But, there are a ton of people that will begin to attend events at the Sports park as the months progress. Even people attending events from out of town. I have never encountered this lighting procedure before, and I imagine that will be true for many.

So, I think we can all expect a few confused drivers and some stopping in the street, others honking at a confused driver, etc.

This will take time.......quite a bit of time, IMO

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Posted by Ben Johansen
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm

The most obvious and more sensible approach would be to create a 3 way signal intersection like at Hopyard & Valley. North and Southbound Hopyard have their set signals. Cars heading east out of Valley Trails and pedestrians in the southern crosswalk have their own signal and finally cars heading west out of Parkside and pedestrians in the northern crosswalk have their own signal. This gives the pedestrians crossing Hopyard full protection in their respective crosswalks and cars plenty of time to crossover or turnleft onto Hopyard without having to wait for pedestrians. Simple...
But then again, our traffic officials in Pleasanton do everything differently, then end up changing it later after complaints flood the city. Makes for good job security I guess. BTW, who hires these people anyway?

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm

The true issue is not have a new type of stop sign, it's to have traffic flow smoothly on Hopyard Road the main thoroughfare. Until such time that the city can afford a computer literate traffic engineer, traffic flow on Hopyard seems all screwed up. I might add, I wonder if the person who programmed the traffic lights on Santa Rita still works for the city. The traffic flow on Santa Rita is so much better.

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Posted by ptownfreckle
a resident of Valley Trails
on Dec 30, 2013 at 9:44 am

Mike's simplified from 25 Dec. above really explains it well for me. Thanks!

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Posted by Gail
a resident of Parkside
on Dec 30, 2013 at 7:36 pm

If someone is crossing from the west side of Hopyard to the sports park there is no way even one car can make it through the light. Several times I have been the only car waiting to turn left on to Hopyard and someone was crossing and the light changed before the person even got to the center divide.

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

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