Proposed High Tech High Stop Sign – Letter to the Editor

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To the Editor:

Proposed High Tech High Stop Sign

It was disappointing to attend the most recent CCPG meeting and witness them lend support to the creation of a 4-way stop sign intersection at Mt Acadia and Mt Blanca in order to slow traffic near High Tech High. Although I support changes to the street to provide for student safety, I think more options could and should have been discussed.

I got no sense that members of the Transportation Subcommittee visited the site or gave a full report of their findings to the general body and the public.

In full disclosure I do not like stop signs, and there are a lot of reasons why their proliferation should be examined.

CCPG knows that traffic calming is a hot-button issue and can consume considerable meeting time. If someone wants traffic calming? Give ’em a stop signs and let’s move on. If there isn’t a nearby intersection? Put up a Vee-Calm.

Mt Acadia Blvd looking north towards Mt Alifan Dr. in Clairemont

The City loves these solutions – they are inexpensive, easy to implement, get one more complaint off their enormous to-do list quickly, and the community is satisfied (or so it would seem). My major complaint with this solution – these devices fail to do their job as study after study tells us. People then give up complaining, after all, what else can be done? One member of the Planning Group responded to my request for something more effective, by stating, “if we don’t do this, the City won’t do anything.” The Planning Group shouldn’t make decisions based on the probability of follow through by the City.

For those of you not familiar with the downside of a stop sign solution, I found this excerpt on a web page posted by the city of Lewisville, TX and it sums up the problem with using a stop sign solution in a case like this.

 

  1. Overuse of stop signs reduces their effectiveness because drivers tend to speed up between stop sign controlled intersections rather than slow down. In fact, studies have shown that at residential speeds, drivers accelerate to their original speed prior to the stop sign in less than 200 feet (that is less than 3 house lots from the intersection). Driver acceleration and deceleration only adds to noise levels that can turn a quiet neighborhood into a race track.
  2. Stop compliance is poor at unwarranted multi-way stop signs. Studies have determined that drivers see little reason to stop and yield the right-of-way when there is no traffic on the minor street. Unwarranted stop signs foster disrespect and disregard of the law.
  3. Studies have found that pedestrian safety, particularly small children, is decreased at unwarranted multi-way stop sign locations. Pedestrians expect vehicles to stop at the stop signs, but many vehicles “run” the unnecessary stop sign.
  4. The cost of installing stop signs is relatively low, but enforcement costs are not. In addition, enforcement cannot be provided “24/7” and at best, can only have limited effectiveness.

These observations have been reported time after time, so it’s difficult to refute the evidence. There are better ways to make that intersection safer and make the area more welcoming to foot and bicycle traffic. I would urge the City to examine one of the following solutions instead.

Roundabouts. These force the driver to slow in order to navigate a change in direction – countless studies have proven their effectiveness.

Bulbouts – basically a curb extension jutting out at the intersection making the traffic lane narrower.

Chokers – bulbouts on both sides of the road.

Besides being a great visual marker, these changes force the driver to slow in order to navigate safely through the intersection. Bulbouts and chokers have the added benefit of making a marked intersection safer for pedestrians, as they shorten the distance one has to walk in the actual traffic lane to cross.

Over one-half hour was spent discussing the aesthetics of a proposed cell tower at this meeting. While I applaud the CCPG for showing civic pride by insisting that our cell towers fit into the community, it saddens me that discussions surrounding more complex issues involving the safe and pleasant navigation of our community get so little attention.

It takes community involvement and pressure from groups like CCPG as well as residents, but effective options exist and ultimately make the area around the traffic calming much more pleasant to be near – I hope that the Clairemont Community Planning Group would understand this is part of their mission.

Joel Smith

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