In some areas of Los Angeles and other cities, there are more bicyclists than ever. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean conditions have gotten any safer for them. Bicyclists and pedestrians have to share increasingly busy and dangerous intersections – some of which have no signage or signals.
The pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) is a relatively new tool being installed at marked crosswalks that previously had no signals. A PHB is placed overhead like other traffic signals, with a sign indicating that it’s a crosswalk that requires drivers to stop when the lights are red. Typically, there are three lights. There may be other signs as well.
How do PHBs work?
The lights remain dark until someone who needs to cross the street pushes a button or, in some cases, when a person is detected. Then they go from flashing yellow to solid yellow to red. Once those crossing get the “don’t walk” signal, the red light starts flashing, which means drivers can proceed as long as no one is in the intersection.
These lights are often installed at school crossings, near parks and playgrounds and around senior centers. Their installation, unfortunately, sometimes occurs only after someone has been injured or killed.
Tragedy prompted the first PHB in Westlake Village
A PHB is being installed at a crosswalk in Westlake Village, in northern Los Angeles County, which was the site of a deadly crash last year. A woman who was allegedly drunk is facing criminal charges in the death of two boys who were crossing the street with their family.
It can’t be known whether any kind of signal would have prevented this tragedy. However, people who live in the area have long advocated for a light at the busy crosswalk, and the city council had voted down the proposal.
The PHB installation comes after the family filed a lawsuit against the state and its department of transportation, LA County and the City of Westlake Village. They’re also suing the driver and her reported companion for the evening who was ahead of her in another car.
While PHBs have been shown to reduce the number of crashes and save lives, they can’t prevent all drivers from being reckless or negligent. Even areas that are known for being cyclist-friendly can be dangerous. If you or a loved one has been injured, it’s crucial that you explore all possible sources of liability and compensation.