Sunday night a hit-and-run driver knocked down a pedestrian-activated flashing signal on the east side of Batavia Avenue at McKee Street in Batavia.
That mishap has complicated discussions about what to do about the crosswalk because federal regulation prohibits repairing or replacing that signal.
The Federal Highway Administration Dec. 21 withdrew its interim approval of rapid rectangular flashing beacons because the devices are patented. Federal rules prohibit the government endorsing or appearing to endorse a product, company or individual, according to a bulletin on the ruling. And the FHA wants uniformity in traffic control devices it approves.
If it approved one patented device, it would also have to approve competing devices with unique designs.
A lack of consistency would confuse drivers, according to the FHA.
This means Batavia can't repair or replace the signal, City Administrator Laura Newman told aldermen Monday. The matching signal on the west side of the street must now be turned off, she said.
It also complicates a discussion Batavia aldermen are scheduled to have Tuesday about making the designated pedestrian crossings safer and how to go about doing so.
Batavia installed the RRFBs at three intersections on Batavia Avenue (Route 31) and five intersections on Washington Avenue/River Street (Route 25) in 2015. Pedestrians push a button and when the yellow light starts to flash, cars are supposed to be aware that a pedestrian may be crossing, and be prepared to stop.
In October, the council put $500,000 in this year's budget for a proposal to put the Route 31 beacons on overhead arms, and to add another beacon 200 feet in advance of the intersections, to improve drivers' abilities to see the beacons.
One option now could be putting up a diamond-shaped road sign outlined in LED lights that flash (albeit slower than the RRFBs) when pedestrians are crossing.
In-roadway pedestrian-activated LED light systems are also available; Berwyn has installed them at several crossings along Roosevelt Road.
It could also push the state of Illinois to allow a pedestrian-activated red signal.