Happy Halloween From Clarence the Purple Traffic Wizard

Streetfilms’ Clarence Eckerson took to the streets in costume to check on the progress of DOT’s new 9th Avenue physically separated bike lane. The pleasant surprises continue as new signs, markings and cyclist-oriented traffic signals have recently appeared. Although driver behavior continues to improve, there are still a few problems to highlight, as well.

If you enjoyed this Clarence Special (or, at least, were not frightened by it) check out the others in the series: Clarence: The Traffic Calming Sasquatch & Clarence: The Traffic Calming Maniac. Happy Halloween!

  • Great coverage! Keep it up!!!

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    mmmm…PURPLE is GOOD!

  • momos

    Great video as always Clarence!

    I’m thrilled to see those bike signals up. But why are mounted so high on the pole? They should be at standing eye level. The signals on the Hudson River Greenway have the same problem… they’re mounted at the same height for car traffic signals.

  • Hilary

    I think the BIKE-GO signal should be a color other than green, which is apt to be read as GO by motorists. Isn’t the pedestrian go signal white?
    I don’t think the height is a problem here on a street (as opposed to a greenway) because it should be seen (and most importantly, understodd) by cars.

    Is the noisy surface used on highway shoulders to alert cars that they’ve veered out of the lane be used on bike lanes? It’s very effective for “waking up” a motorist that he’s in the wrong place.

  • momos

    Hilary, that’s a great point about color. A white BIKE-GO signal would be much better.

    My concern is that cars from far off will see a green light at the same location/height traffic lights usually are and assume they can hit the gas through the intersection. Drivers way too often look at lights instead of what’s on the road.

    A different color is good solution.

  • Jonathan

    Momos, I like both your ideas: having a lower, smaller light, and having a different color.

    The traffic control signals part of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law (Section 1111), however, says “only the colors green, yellow and red shall be used” to apply to drivers of vehicles and pedestrians.

    I don’t know if highway-style rumble strips would work at low city speeds; I think they are engineered to sound loudest at highway speeds.

  • ln

    Everytime I pass the 9th st bike lane, (im usually travelling E-W down there) I take one of the orange cones the DOT left all over and put it smack dab in the middle of the bike lane. Maybe that’ll keep those cars out. I suggest you do the same.

    Or if you are a purple wizard, just wave you wand and the bollards magically appear!

  • Sam

    Looking great! I wish the Brisbane City Council would put money in to things like this. Unfortunately, we’re spending billions of dollars on cross city tunnels.

  • Antoine!

    That cute couple is hysterical, “Purple is your color…”

  • Ken

    Clarence, next time dress up as Superman and vaporize that truck!

  • @alex

    The bike signals are still going up – on Sunday I was in the city and saw crews taking down the now-redundant cross-pieces for car traffic signals and putting up the new bike lights on those poles at 17th Street.

    On Saturday, however, I saw something I’d really never seen before – a Segway cruising down the nice wide 9th Avenue bicycle track!

    Given that he would have been just as illegal in the regular traffic lanes or (god forbid) on the sidewalk, I guess I’d rather have him in the bike track, which is certainly wide enough for both a Segway and a bicyclist passing him, and it’s certainly better than all the parked / standing trucks etc. that I’ve seen in photos (none this weekend, although I saw some left-turners who didn’t quite get the left turn bay, and were sitting in the bike lane waiting for the light).

    Still, it goes to show that if you build it, they will come (even if it wasn’t intended for them). Does anybody want to suggest bollards? I doubt they would deter a Segway rider… Perhaps special EMF-pulse devices to knock out the electric motor or gyro or ride-by-wire computer controls? (No, I’m not seriously suggesting that.)


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