New Idiom in Traffic Signaling

The City of Portland is trying a new approach to “left turn yield to oncoming traffic”:

City of Portland installs new experimental Left-Turn Signal with Flashing Yellow Arrow.

The City of Portland’s Office of Transportation will be activating a new flashing yellow arrow left-turn display at NE 82nd and Tillamook on Tuesday, June 6th at 10:00 AM. Previously, drivers could only turn left on a green arrow like at many other intersections in Portland. Often drivers are annoyed when they see gaps in opposing traffic, but are not able to turn left because of a red arrow. On 82nd Avenue a new flashing yellow arrow will be displayed during the time that opposing through traffic has a green light and drivers will be permitted to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians. Left turners would still get a green arrow if they are not able turn during the flashing yellow arrow.

“This new flashing yellow indication will reduce delay and frustration for Portland drivers” said Commissioner Sam Adams. Adams continued “From a safety perspective, drivers should make sure they have enough time to turn safely during the flashing yellow arrow. If the gaps are not long enough, then they will eventually get a green arrow.”

The new signal display will consist of a combined steady green arrow / flashing yellow arrow, a steady yellow arrow and a steady red arrow. The green arrow indicates that the left-turning traffic has the right-of-way, and the flashing yellow arrow tells left-turning traffic to first yield to oncoming traffic before turning.

Other future Portland test sites will be at SW Barbur Boulevard and 30th Avenue, and at NE 39th Avenue and I-84. If the flashing yellow arrow improves motorist safety and reduces traffic delay at the test sites, then there may be other locations in Portland where this new type of traffic signal might be installed.

Discussion on some neighborhood list servs is that this could be less safe for pedestrians. Thoughts?

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