By Mike Spack, PE, PTOE
I’ve had two calls this fall from private citizens wanting me to help them convince their city engineers to install stop signs in their neighborhoods. Here is the basic messages I conveyed when I responded to the request.
All way stop signs only work when there is heavy enough traffic at the intersection so people need to stop (the rules are below from the MN Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices). Otherwise your neighbors get conditioned that there is no crossing traffic and they disregard the stop signs because there isn’t a reason to stop. This phenomenon is well documented (the same way people drive 65 mph on most highways unless a police officer is present, then everyone reduces their speed to 55 mph).
I personally studied this in Maple Grove, Minnesota when I was on the staff there. We found about 20% of people didn’t even touch the brakes for the stop sign. This is very dangerous for everyone who goes through the intersection.
The only way to control speeds is with traffic calming measures, such as a speed hump.
I can do a full study on the intersection and come up with a recommended solution, if there is a problem (as defined by high traffic volumes, high speeds, or high numbers of crashes). The city engineer will probably collect the traffic volumes and come back saying you do or do not meet the criteria below. (See image below)
Over the years, my colleagues and I have received similar requests from citizens for a wide variety of concerns including excessive speeds, parking requests, cut through traffic, and more. We all agree that dealing with citizen requests could be challenging – making sure to provide useful information without the use of a lot of jargon, responding in a timely manner, and keeping track of correspondence. Through the course of our work, we spoke with other traffic professionals who also experienced similar challenges. Ultimately, we decided to work with 30 senior traffic engineers from are the world, to compile our combined best practices into one useful guide. If you are interested in what we created, check out The Engineer’s Guide to Citizen Traffic Requests.
I am working on a Traffic Corner Tuesday webinar topic for 2018 around how to handle citizen requests. I am interested in what resources other engineers use when working with the public. What interesting challenges have you experienced and how have you handled them? I would love to hear about your best practices of working with citizen requests that we may be able to incorporate into our public webinar. Send me an email with your best practices. I would love to hear from you. Mspack@mikeontraffic.com.