By: Danielle Dawson
Photography: City of Little Rock
The City of Irvine has installed a new traffic control system on Alton Parkway as a way to better warn drivers of the high levels of pedestrian foot traffic in the area.
Pedestrian hybrid beacons (PHBs) are traffic control devices designed as an alternative to traditional crosswalks, particularly in mid-block locations with high levels of pedestrians.
PHBs operate similarly to traditional traffic lights and crosswalks—pedestrians push a button which activates a flashing yellow light and a steady yellow light that signals oncoming traffic to slow down. The light then turns to a solid red, indicating to vehicles that they need to stop for the crossing pedestrian. After a certain period of time, the pedestrian walk signal begins counting down and changes the drivers’ light to flashing red. This means that vehicles can proceed if there are no pedestrians.
As of Jan. 19, the only active PHB in place is on Alton Parkway, west of Redhill.
According to the Deputy Director of Transportation for the City of Irvine Jaimee Bourgeois, this PHB was installed at the request of Edwards Lifesciences, which is a business with corporate headquarters and living facilities respectively to the north and south of the street.
With facilities on both sides, the business regularly experiences significant numbers of pedestrians crossing the street each day—prompting the request for a mid-block crosswalk. Bourgeois said that a study conducted determined that the installation of a PHB would be the best means of creating a crosswalk because it provides an additional level of protection for pedestrians while maintaining traffic efficiency.
“[PHBs] provide the same level of protection as a traffic signal for pedestrians. [For vehicles, PHBs] provide for more efficiency than a traditional signal because of the [light] sequencing,” Bourgeois said.
“By putting a light there it doesn’t escalate to the point of needing a traffic signal, but it needed to be elevated to having more than a pedestrian crosswalk there,” Irvine spokesperson Melissa Haley told the OC Register.
The city has no further plans to implement any additional devices, but Bourgeois said the implementation of this device could be considered in the future depending on its effect on Alton Parkway.
“We will monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of the [PHB as a] traffic control device … it’s something that we can add to our toolbox as an enhancement for existing or future crosswalks,” Bourgeois said.
Other areas throughout Orange County have also introduced PHBs, including Laguna Beach and Fountain Valley.
For more information on PHBs, visit the City of Irvine website.