A New Year and Two New Stop Signs
Why were these stop signs put on Ellsworth Ave. at Graham St.? There is absolutely no need for them and the make it much more difficult for cyclists. What should I do to avoid this? Should I risk my life on 5th Ave., or deal with heavy traffic and poorly timed traffic lights without left turn signals on Centre Ave. The stressful trip from East Liberty to Oakland just got even more stressful because you don’t want to stop unless absolutely necessary. I have never once seen a car turn off of Graham St. at this intersection. Stops signs, especially all-way stop signs should never be installed frivolously just to slow down traffic as they make cyclists have to stop even when 99.999…% of the time there is absolutely no reason to stop other than the stop sign. They also agitate motorists so mid-block speeds increase and they become more aggressive when it comes to cyclists and pedestrians.
That stop sign may be much more needed for pedestrian crossing when Negley ave bridge over the busway is under construction. This might be an alternative route for pedestrians due to the ped bridge over the busway, which is the shortest path to giant eagle from Shadyside if Negley was closed.
Though, I’m wondering if they will maintain ped access at all during construction or not.
^^slowing down traffic ABSOLUTELY helps cyclists. Enforcing said stop signs (for all users) helps even more.
I view this as a positive change.
zach pointed out a while back the data that frequent stopsigns don’t actually slow down traffic. I googled it and found data supporting his view. The thinking is that too frequent stop signs cause cars to speed up between stop signs to make up for frequent stopsigns.
this is a goldilock problem.
I also can’t find the studies by a google search. I think Zach knows them.
I also don’t know if the stopsigns on ellsworth are too frequent or just right.
heres a decent blog post. I can’t find any link to actual studies, but I also didn’t do a very thorough serach.
and a blog post with bikers involved.
For the record I just spent a week in Playa del Carmen with a car, and there’s a noticeable lack of stopsigns in the street grid. However, there are a crapton of really BIG speed humps and other traffic calming devices. I don’t remember the details but when coming to a 4 way intersection you know that one street has no speed calming whereas the other street has them, so if you’re on the street without the calming you slow down, look, and go. If you have the calming, then you’re going to be going very slowly anyway. It worked really, really well. However, the speedbumps are high. VERY high. Like crush your teeth high. Like totally destroy your car high. Like you need to be going less than 10 mph high, even in a big SUV. The grid there is also one way streets, with the 2 way avenues always devided by a central median with trees.
The system worked remarkably well, and there are all types of creatures (including dogs and cats) crossing streets down there, and every imaginable vehicle being used on the streets.
Scroll down to the Topes section-
Speed limits should be enforced. Also, why don’t motorists prefer to take streets with less cyclists like Baum Blvd. or 5th Ave.? Even on these streets, motorists should expect to see the occasional cyclist, but they can easily be passed using the left passing lane. legally passing a cyclist on Ellsworth Ave. requires crossing the center line and can risk collision with oncoming traffic.
Yeah, everything would be better with enforcement. I’ve used the car more this year then I have in a long time. Even in a car I feel for my life sometimes, with cars running red lights & even passing me (in a car) in no-passing zones, all because I’m driving AT the speed limit. Everybody is in such a hurry, and some are just angry! Until there is political will nothing will change.
My guess is that it’s a whole system problem. First, there’s more than enough policing that needs to be done, so when looking at, say, preventing or responding to major crimes vs traffic enforcement, the former wins.
Second I am also guessing that when most traffic tickets hit the magistrate the points or fines disappear. So there may be the “what’s the point?” Feeling by the police re enforcement.
Third, only state without local radar. Vascar is terrible. If it wasn’t, everyone would be using it.
I think the radar thing is a red herring to some extent. When I was learning to drive back in the early 80’s, the Pgh police routinely had Vascar speed traps all over the city. I remember seeing them on 2nd avenue in Hazelwood, Bigelow Blvd in Polish Hill, Washington Blvd. in E. Liberty, 5th ave in Shadyside and many other roads posted at 25-35 MPH but where speeds are much higher. I don’t have proof, but I think they even painted ‘false’ white lines on some streets because drivers would see the two lines and think it might be a speed trap. (Vascar works by timing your vehicle as it passed two lines in the street about twenty feet apart)
This all went away about five years after they started using it. To my knowledge laws didn’t change, it’s effectiveness didn’t change, but I remember the police union complaining about officers having to go to traffic court and thus missing out on getting overtime pay… Not to mention that traffic citations don’t count toward an officer’s points towards promotion… So it’s a political thing.
Yes, Radar would be a good thing for local cops. But in time they won’t use that either if traffic safety isn’t a priority. Besides, they don’t need Radar to enforce cars running red-lights, the four-foot rule, etc., but you hardly ever see them pulling cars over for that
A ruler is needed to enforce the four-foot rule. All that is needed to bust speeders is a camera and some computer software.
The anti-stop sign rhetoric is misplaced for two reasons.
For one, while stop signs do in fact tend to induce higher mid-block speeds, they also unquestionably lower speed through intersections. The overwhelming majority of vehicle-pedestrian/cyclist conflicts occur at at intersections, not mid-block, and vehicle speed is the factor most correlated with severe injury or death. Slowing speeds where crashes are most likely to occur is the point. Advocating against stop signs because speeds increase at locations less likely to result in crashes is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Two, taking residents’ call for stop signs to reduce speeding at face value misunderstands their true needs, which is better access. Speeding cars intimidate one from crossing the street leading them to believe speed is the issue when in fact the lack of equitable access is to blame. An intersection that allows vehicles to freely travel unimpeded at whatever speed the driver chooses while forcing pedestrians and cyclists to rely on their best judgement of gaps in traffic in order to cross is an obvious access issue, and in no logical way can be argued to be a safer condition than if all legs of the intersection were forced to yield the right of way.
I don’t know if there is data, but I’m wondering if frequent stop signs makes it more likely someone won’t stop at an intersection. The “Damn there are so many stopsigns and it’s impeding my progress so i’m going to roll through them.” While I agree that stop signs are great for people who need to cross the street, i’m wondering if there are more likely to be hit peds if there’s a tendency for people to get upset about the stopsigns and roll through intersections?
I know the solution is a) people not acting like people and actually following directions, b) adequate automated technology such that everyone has an automated car that 100% follows the rules of the road and can always spot peds, or c) police doing more enforcement, but it doesn’t seem that any of those options are likely anytime soon.
These stop signs in particular make it easier for people to access to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the busway at Graham. As Benzo stated, the pedestrian bridge will get used more often when the city eventually closes the Negley Ave. bridge over the busway for renovation/replacement. Not sure when that is going to happen. They’re also good for access to the bus stop at the Graham/Ellsworth corner, and for people that live north of Ellsworth to get to Walnut Street. I can’t think of any downside. If stop signs drive you crazy (either in a car or on a bike) then you should have already been avoiding Ellsworth.
If there was a bypass street through Shadyside with no stop signs, traffic would surely be faster and more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists on it. A good example of this is Mossfield in Garfield which drivers treat like a racetrack. Same with some of the roads in Schenley Park.
The “Damn there are so many stop signs and it’s impeding my progress so i’m going to roll through them.”
This is a very common concern that passively works on the assumption that driver compliance at intersections with infrequent stop signs is good, which is absolutely false. Drivers rolling through stop signs should be considered the baseline, because it’s reality, and any change in traffic control compared to that state.
While I agree that stop signs are great for people who need to cross the street, i’m wondering if there are more likely to be hit peds if there’s a tendency for people to get upset about the stopsigns and roll through intersections?
Even in this situation, the top sign has succeeded. Pedestrians have greater than an 80% chance of survival when struck at speeds of 25mph compared to about a 10% chance of survival when struck at speeds of 40mph. Simply inducing speeds that would be considered a “roll through” almost guarantees no one will lose their life, which ultimately is the goal.
Crash rates are a red herring. Crash severity is what matters. This is the essence of Vision Zero design.
I think cyclists should be exempt from all stop signs on Ellsworth Ave. except those at Neville St., Devonshire St., and Spahr St. where there seems to be a fair amount of cross traffic and/or sight lines are poor.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by zzwergel.
Also, about 15 years ago, someone could turn off of Freeport Rd. onto Western Ave. and not have to stop until they got to 2nd St. After that, there was an all-way stop sign at 3rd St. and you could continue to 5th St. without stopping.
First, all-way stop signs were installed at 1st St. and after a few years, they were installed at 4th St. A one-way stop sign was also installed on southbound Brilliant Ave. at 1st St.
- This reply was modified 6 months, 1 week ago by zzwergel.
I would like to know if “Except bikes” signs like those mounted under the “Do not enter” signs on 3rd Ave. can also be mounted under the stop signs on Ellsworth Ave.
I do not live in the city limits. What council district is Ellsworth Ave. located in? (The part with all the stop signs.)
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by zzwergel.
A project for you. Start on this link and find it.
If the point of the stop signs is to give pedestrians the right-of-way to cross Ellsworth, why should bikes be exempt from stopping? Stopping at one of these stop signs will literally add two seconds to a bike trip, while making the neighborhood safer for people on foot.
Basic physics. An object in motion wants to stay in motion. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. Essentially, more force needs to be exerted in order to get the bike moving again once it is stopped. Also today, I rolled through it going from Oakland to RIDC Park.
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by zzwergel.
^We often admonish drivers for their failure to slow down and obey the rules. How often have we all stated something like, ‘if they had only waited two seconds!’
Now you want to act as privileged as the that impatient driver by DELIBERATELY ignoring a stop sign that you feel shouldn’t be there. Sure, the likelihood of a car/bike/pedestrian coming the other way is slim, but how is this action that much different than the driver parking in the bike-lane because there are so few cyclists using the bike-lane anyhow? (this is rhetorical, I don’t want you to respond with vehicle code citations, etc.)
To be clear, I don’t think you need to put-a-foot-on-the-ground at every stop sign, but you do need to treat each and every one as though you will in fact stop should you need to. And you should stop if another vehicle or pedestrian is anywhere near crossing the intersection even if you think you will ultimately have the right of way by getting there first. It’s a stop sign – STOP. To do otherwise is to not only be dangerous, but to be a prick.
There was NEVER a stop sign there before and I have NEVER once seen a pedestrian trying to cross there, or a car turning off of Graham St. All this stop sign does is make getting through the traffic light at Negley Ave. on green impossible. Sure, your chances were quite low to begin with, but now you CHANCE IS ZERO. It also AGITATES all road users and makes them MORE AGGRESSIVE.
Sorry if I sound harsh, Cyclists do not have blind spots like cars do.
As I’ve gotten older (or maybe it’s the meditation? It really does work!) I’ve learned to accept red lights as enforced rest time for my middle aged body.
If the worst part of your day is hitting a red light, then your day is seemingly going quite well .
@zz – I actually used to cross the street there or at filbert daily when I lived in Shadyside and took the bus to Oakland. My bus stop was right at that intersection with the stop sign. I wasn’t the only one catching the bus there.
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Benzo.
Oh yeah. Bus stops need stop signs on Ellsworth. Trees make it hard for peds to see traffic and vice versa. Plus people are more likely to cross at bus stops. Bikes and cars can wait a bit if it means less people getting whacked by cars. There are plenty of other routes to avoid Ellsworth if you want to trade safety for speed.
Do you mean taking high-speed, traffic light filled Baum Blvd. to Morewood Ave. to take advantage of the protected left at that intersection? BTW, Why do Baum Blvd, East Liberty Blvd., Penn Ave. (Larimer and Point Breeze), 5th Ave. (Shadyside) and Freeport Rd. (Aspinwall, Waterworks, and O’Hara) have a posted speed limit of 35 MPH. despite being in densely populated areas with lots of poorly timed traffic lights? That just encourages aggressive driving which is not only dangerous in these situations, but is very fuel inefficient. The traffic lights are not going to wait for you before turning red.
A case can and should be made that every street in the city should have a 25 mph max. Ellsworth and others with a lot of pedestrian traffic, 20. And !#(&$;” *enforce it*.
Also, why is Allegheny River Blvd. posted 45 MPH for most of it’s length before dropping down to 25MPH in Verona? Freeport Rd. between Powers Run Rd. and the Harmar Twp. line is posted 55 MPH! The same stretch of Freeport Rd. has shoulders on both sides that can accommodate pedestrians and cyclists. The shoulders, especially on the river side of Allegheny River Blvd. are very narrow and do not have enough room for cyclists to dodge pedestrians and other obsticles without entering the travel lane.
What I would say is any road that is not an expressway that has a speed limit of 35 MPH or more should be dropped by 10 MPH. Any speed limit posted as 30 MPH or lower should stay as is.
I’m with you on that. But you’re talking posted limits, not ambient travel speeds. Simply getting enforcement on existing limits will be a gargantuan task. I’ve said this before, but signs mean darn near nothing. Any posted limit currently means to drive at a minimum of five over that, and probably 10-15 over that.
Maybe, we should get a group of about 30 cyclists together every few weeks at random times to show that this street that runs through a residential neighborhood that likely has children and pets in it belongs to everyone and motorists should not claim a monopoly on it. The same should be done along Penn Ave. in Point Breeze, 5th Ave. in Shadyside and Oakland, Baum Blvd., Forbes Ave., Freeport Rd., Perry Hwy., and Library Rd. All of which can be unavoidable in certain circumstances.
That’s what Flock, and before that, Critical Mass, demonstrated.
Maybe we should do this every day that the weather permits for a while. Also, It should be done farther away from the city in places like Castle Shannon, Bethel Park, Penn Hills, Churchill, East Pittsburgh, Pitcairn, Monroeville, McCandless, Ross, and Cranberry so that the suburbanites will get an understanding of this pressing issue.
FYI, There is already a crosswalk on Ellsworth Ave. at Filbert St. Why can’t pedestrians cross there or at Aiken Ave.?
@zzwergel – Probably because it’s easier to cross where there is a stop sign?
If I still lived on Ivy street and used that bus stop, I would definitely prefer to cross at the stop sign than the filbert crosswalk, especially during busy times of the day. Drivers here do not have a strong culture of being aware and alert to stop for pedestrians waiting at a crosswalk.
If that’s the case, shouldn’t the stop signs be placed at Filbert St. since there is no painted crosswalk at Graham St.?
You would think they would want to paint them at the new sign, but since the signs were put in over the winter, they probably don’t have the painting gear out now. I bet that gets painted when they start paving in the spring/summer.
- This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Benzo.
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