Frequently Asked Questions

Why are traffic signals needed?

The primary function of any traffic signal is to assign the right-of-way at an intersection or crossing.  The familiar red, yellow, and green lights allow pedestrians and conflicting streams of traffic to share the same intersection by means of time separation.

Who decides which intersections need signals?

The City installs traffic signals in accordance with established State and Federal guidelines called warrants.  City traffic staff review intersections where signals or other traffic control devices may be needed using the Federal and State warrants.  Signals are expensive, therefore City staff use warrants to help allocate the scarce resources and prioritize improvements. 

How do I request a traffic control device be installed or modified?

If you would like to voice your concern or opinion of an area that you feel a traffic control device be installed or modified, please contact us at (530) 661-5820.  The Traffic Engineering Division gets over 200 requests, suggestions, and complaints each year and we investigate each one as quickly as possible.  We value your input and appreciate your patience and understanding while we are resolving problems or answering your questions for a safer Woodland.  Or, if you would like to submit your request in writing, you can use our 'Traffic Request/Suggestion Form' that is available at the Engineering counter in City Hall, or from this web site. If after reviewing the data on this web site you would like a request form mailed to you, simply call the Traffic Engineering Division at (530) 661-5820 or print the form located on this site.

How do I get additional street lights placed on my street?

If you feel there is a lack of lighting on your residential street and would like to petition for additional street lights to be place on your street, you may voice your concern to the City of Woodland by contacting the Community Development Transportation Engineering Division via our 'Traffic Request/Suggestion Form' that is available at the Engineering counter in City Hall, or from this web site.  If after reviewing the data on this web site you would like a request form mailed to you, simply call the Traffic Engineering Division at (530) 661-5820 or print the form located on this site.

How do I report an obvious malfunction with an existing traffic signal?             

If there is an obvious malfunction with an existing City traffic signal, please contact the City of Woodland Public Works Municipal Service Center at (530) 661-5962 during normal business hours.  Malfunctions include a light-bulb being out, a signal that has been knocked over, a signal that is stuck in red phase, or a signal not turning green for a particular direction.  Please be prepared to give the operator clear and concise information; this includes the location of the malfunction (the intersecting streets), the direction in which it is affecting, and a description of the existing problem.

How do I drive through a signal that has had a complete loss of power?

Power failures occasionally occur, particularly during the winter storm season.  Therefore, it is important to remember when a traffic signal is not working, due to the loss of power or any other reason, Section 21800 of the Vehicle Code requires drivers to stop and proceed when safe to do so.  In other words, treat the intersection like a four-way stop. 

How do I drive through a signal that is flashing red or yellow?

When a signal is flashing red, the driver shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection as per the California Vehicle Code.  The driver may proceed subject to the same rules when stopping at a controlled, four-way stop intersection.  When a signal is flashing yellow, a driver may proceed through the intersection or past the signal with minimized speed and maximized caution.

Why doesn't the City place temporary signs at intersections during power outages?

The City of Woodland typically will not place temporary stop signs at an intersection with inoperative traffic signals because it leaves the impression that motorists only have to stop if the stop sign is there.  On a practical side, power outages are typically of short duration and with 55+ signalized intersections in town, it would not be possible to get stop signs up and then removed in a timely manner when the power is restored.  Furthermore, if the signal returns to power and is operating with a stop sign in place, this not only causes confusion for the drivers, it also creates an inconsistent  traffic conflict.

What is the difference between a roundabout and a traffic circle?

There are three basic principles that distinguish the modern roundabout from the traffic circle:

1.  A roundabout uses the "yield-at-entry" rule where the traffic in the roundabout has the right-of-way and the approaching vehicles wait for a gap in the traffic before entering the circle.   The opposite holds true for traffic circles, although found in many different forms.  One example is requiring the circulating vehicles to grant the right-of-way to entering vehicles.  Also, some circles use traffic signals or signs to regulate vehicle entry.
2.  Due to the larger diameters and wider roads, traffic circles were designed for higher speeds and merging manageability.  On the other hand, roundabouts involve low speeds (the East Gum and Bourn Drive roundabout is designed for speeds at 15 mph) due to the small diameters, deflected entrances, and yielded entries.
3.  Because the roundabout is a smaller circle, the deflection at entry lends to their safe operation.  The geometry of the deflection and point of yield is something unique to the roundabout.

How do I get my street surveyed for traffic calming measures?

The City will prepare a warrant analysis and survey a defined segment of road after receiving a petition signed by 20% of the area residences.  The City will supply a petition form upon request.  More information and request forms are available at City of Woodland City Hall.  Or, if you would like to submit a request in writing, you can use our 'Traffic Request/Suggestion Form' that is available at the Engineering counter in City Hall, or from this website.  If after reviewing the data on this website you would like a request form mailed to you, simply call the Traffic Engineering Division at (530) 661-5820 or print the form located on this site.

Why can't the speed limit be lowered on certain streets?

In most cases, lowering the speed limit on certain streets will not slow traffic.  The majority of motorists travel at a speed in which they feel is reasonable speed given the surroundings of the street, regardless of what the posted speed limit signs read.  The basic speed law states that no person shall drive at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent.  Therefore, the State of California has established the 85th percentile speed, or critical speed, as the sensible speed.  This is the speed at which the large majority (or 85%) of the motorists are traveling at or below.  For this reason, the state law requires speed limits to be posted at the first 5mph increment below the 85th percentile speed in order for law enforcement to use RADAR.

Where can I park when I visit downtown Woodland?

The convenient street parking and several parking lots in downtown Woodland are close to Main Street and range from all day to hourly.  Click here to see a map that shows all of the public parking lots in the downtown area.  For more information about parking in Woodland, please see the Downtown Parking Management Plans.

What is the difference between a marked crosswalk and an unmarked crosswalk?

Crosswalks are either 'marked' or 'unmarked.'  Under the California Vehicle Code, crosswalks exist at all intersections extending across the street from the corner curbs or on other parts of the street designated as pedestrian crossings by the painted lines.  If there are not any painted white or yellow lines at an intersection, the crosswalk still exists, it is just unmarked.  A crosswalk is the area of a roadway where pedestrians have the right-of-way and motorists must yield to pedestrians.  Most of us have seen the marked crosswalks that have white or yellow stripes painted on the pavement of a street marking a walkway from curb to curb.  However, an intersection does not have to be marked for there to be a crosswalk.

An information flyer on crosswalks is provided here.

Why are unmarked crosswalks often safer than marked crosswalks?

Research suggests that marked crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security.  Pedestrians often step off the curb into the crosswalk expecting drivers of vehicles approaching the crosswalk to stop.  However, drivers frequently fail to stop, which in turn causes collisions.  At all marked and unmarked crosswalks, it is the responsibility of the pedestrian to be cautious and alert prior to crossing the street.  Furthermore, the pedestrian shall remain cautious and alert until they have reached the opposing curb and stepped safely out of the roadway.

Are bushes or shrubbery allowed to obstruct the vision of the driver?

The City ordinance reads that no foliage or structural features shall extend into the cross visibility area between three and one-half feet and seven feet above the surface of the public sidewalk area or shoulder.  The intent of this restriction is to keep free a walkway without interference by or with vehicular travel.  No encroachment of any nature will be permitted or maintained which impedes, obstructs or denies such pedestrian or other lawful travel within the limits of the right-of-way or which impairs sight distance for safe pedestrian or vehicular traffic.  Furthermore, the permitted or the owner of the adjacent property shall maintain the hedges, shrubs, walls, fences or similar structures erected for landscaping purposes in a neat and orderly condition at all times.

Further Questions:

If you have viewed the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website and you feel that your questions or concerns have not been addressed, please feel free to contact us.

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