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When Stop Signs Stop Working

9:17 AM PDT on May 27, 2010

When it comes to traffic signage, is less more?

That's the issue taken up by Ed Wagner of Tulsa
Alternative Transportation Examiner
, who was baffled by a wave of
confusing new signs in the parking lot of his place of employment.
Wagner believes the proliferation of stop signs in Tulsa has resulted in
drivers who pay them little attention, or drive faster between stops,
making conditions more hazardous for pedestrians.

The idea of doing away with signage is not new, but Wagner stops
short of advocating a Mondermanist
approach. Here's what he has in mind:

For most drivers, stop signs have become defacto yields. Weshould recognize this and simply replace them with true yield signs. Irealize it wouldn't help those kids stranded on a street corner, butthat problem could be addressed by stationing a crossing guard there.

But is it right to change the signage in order to align ourstreets with people's behavior? Or should we expect that behavior should conform to the existing signage? I'm thinking that by changing moststop signs to yields, we can give the remaining stop signs greaterimpact on driver's behavior, in effect, gaining compliance by reducingtheir numbers. Frankly though, that's a supposition which should beconfirmed via testing.

Wagner also offers this tidbit on the double standard of the
rolling stop: "There's a perceptual difference for motorists who reduce
speed from 25 mph down to 5 mph, and feel that consists of stopping. Yet
a cyclist who slows from 15 mph to that same 5 mph is seen as a

More from the Network today: Mobilizing
the Region
on the effort to use complete streets to curb childhood
obesity in Kingston, New York; Streetsblog
San Francisco
on the prospect of lifting the four-year injunction
on bike infrastructure; and Greater
Greater Washington
on a partial victory for streetcar supporters.

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