Lessons Learned: New Stop Sign Rollout

Monday, April 28, 2014

After over a decade of requesting traffic calming measures and being flatly ignored by The City of Jersey City Department of Traffic & Engineering, the Harsimus Cove Association (HCA) was thrilled by Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne's plan and process for the installation of stop signs and speed humps in downtown Jersey City. First & Erie, an intersection infamous for motor vehicle collisions, near misses, blaring horns, and a sense of dread when crossing as a pedestrian, received a northbound stop sign on November 22 of last year making the intersection an "all-way" stop.

And so goes the adage, "Persistence pays off."

Or was this to become a situation of, "Be careful what you wish for?"

We immediately observed confusion and frustration over the new stop sign. Most drivers on Erie blew right through it, while eastbound motorists and pedestrians didn't know whether to trust the northbound motorists to stop. There was nothing to indicate there was a new stop sign there other than the stop sign itself. No flags. No roadway paint. Nothing.

We asked Mayor Fulop immediately when the roadway paint would be applied and he replied, "Soon, weather permitting." Some weeks passed. We then inquired with Candice Osborne and she said she was told that painting couldn't happen during when the pavement was wet or if it was too cold. A sense of concern was growing within the HCA as it became apparent that we wouldn't get the roadway paint until spring. We would have gladly waited until spring for the stop sign in order to get it installed correctly, completely, with roadway paint. Why the painting and sign installation wasn't scheduled to occur simultaneously is the ultimate question.

Now here we are, approximately five months after the stop sign went in and we are finally starting to see the job completed at the intersection where a tragic car-on-pedestrian accident happened just last month.

We will note that "2-WAY" signs were added under the new stop sign on Erie during the winter, and to one of the two eastbound signs on First—but why not both?

A December 9 article on NJ.com, "New stop signs in Downtown Jersey City aren't helping, residents say", largely panned the stop signs as a bad idea. What should have been a slam dunk win for the City was now a liability.

From then until now we've had numerous conversations as a board and with our membership on how the new stop sign should have been installed to reduce the amount of time from installation to when motorists recognize and obey the new sign. We have some suggestions that we feel will improve stop sign rollouts in the future.

Temporary Flags on Stop Signs

In order to draw the attention to the new stop sign to motorists, flags mounted to the top of the sign should be used for the period of time deemed adequate for calibrating the behavior of motorists.


Roadway Painted Within Days of Sign Installation

Every stop sign should be accompanied by the proper roadway paint. There are many examples of stop signs that only have the "stop stripe" and do not include "S-T-O-P" along with the the stop stripe. We feel that including the word is essential for instructing the motorist to stop and increases the safety of the intersection.  

Add "2-WAY" or "ALL WAY" Signs Under Stop Sign

Every stop sign should have a sign underneath it to indicate if all inflows are required to stop. There has been some debate about whether the sign should say “2-WAY” or “ALL WAY.”  While the intersection of two one-way streets is a 2-WAY stop, it’s also an ALL WAY stop.

Stop Signs on Both Sides of One-Way Streets

It is not infrequent for a stop sign to be obstructed by an illegally parked vehicle. For this reason, and to generally increase the visibility of a stop sign, stop signs should be installed on both the left and right sides of a one-way street.

Enforcement

While we understand that additional police resources are required for the enforcement of new traffic regulations, the HCA believes that such an expense is essential for the initial rollout of a stop sign to its ensure prompt adoption by motorists.

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