What Does It Take to Get a Stop Sign?

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An elderly man waits to cross Avenue 51 at Range View Avenue as several cars fail to yield to him.

In the past couple years, a number of new stop signs have appeared around Eagle Rock and Highland Park. The stop signs are warmly welcomed by nearby residents, who yearn for a degree of civility in what can sometimes feel like a lawless wild west.

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Elderly man from lead photo finally runs across the street to catch a DASH bus while woman out for a morning run crosses at the same time.

However, there is one intersection in Highland Park where the City has yet to add a stop sign and it cannot be due to a lack of requests: Avenue 51 and Range View Avenue. In addition to featuring a DASH bus stop (which bus riders must cross the street to get to/from), people can be seen crossing this intersection for a variety of reasons, sometimes putting themselves at risk in the process.

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Man with bicycle waits for cars to pass (because they will not yield) before proceeding to cross Avenue 51.

Range View Avenue is a nice street. It provides direct access to Occidental College, parallels Stratford and Meridian but is narrower than both streets and carries less traffic. Range View is a popular street for walking but since traffic speeds too much on Avenue 51, people often have to wait for a gap in traffic or sprint across the street when they reach this particular intersection. In essence the intersection creates a barrier. A 4-way stop is needed at this location to slow traffic on Avenue 51, but more importantly to make it safer and more pleasant to cross at this location.

So, why isn’t there a 4-way stop here?

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Car fails to yield to this runner who is wearing bright blue and clearly showing intent to cross.

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Once the traffic clears, the runner is able to continue his work out.

Undoubtedly, there is an outdated traffic manual which states that a 4-way stop isn’t warranted at this location because it will slow cars down on Avenue 51. Perhaps there are “not enough” pedestrians crossing at this location, “not enough” crashes have occurred, or “not enough” people are speeding on Avenue 51. It’s difficult to take such seemingly arbitrary rules seriously when seeing the intersection in person.

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An all too common sight at Avenue 51/Range View. Car fails to yield to pedestrian even though pedestrian has already started crossing street.

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Believing that cars will yield to pedestrians already in the process of crossing is just wishful thinking. Note the two pedestrians on other side of street trying to cross.

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If there were a 4-way stop at this intersection the pedestrians might have already crossed. The current design prioritizes speed of cars over pedestrian comfort.

There may be perfectly rational reasons on paper, but here is the daily reality at the intersection of Avenue 51 and Range View Avenue:

  • The intersection is home to a local bus stop. How can we expect to promote public transit if people are not comfortable crossing the street to access their nearest bus stop?
  • Cars routinely fail to yield to pedestrians at this location, often because they are going too fast for the context (a residential area that provides access to a bus stop and fosters healthy pedestrian activity). Is this failure to yield not an indicator that traffic should be slowed down?
  • A growing number of pedestrians have a desire to cross at this location. If not a 4-way stop, what can be done to improve yielding compliance?
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People cross Avenue 51/ Range View while woman waiting at DASH bus stop has to endure cars uncomfortably whizzing by.

Adding a stop sign at this intersection will not solve all the problems associated with the design of Avenue 51, which prioritizes throughput of cars above the comfort of those walking, biking, and taking transit. Making the intersection a 4-way stop will, however, send a clear message. It will likely reduce speeding, make a local transit line more accessible, and improve yielding compliance among drivers.

In the long-term, the Avenue 51 corridor needs some re-thinking to slow traffic and make it more pleasant for those walking, biking, and taking transit. In the short-term, it needs a darn 4-way stop at Range View Avenue.

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Sometimes running seems to be the only way one can safely cross Avenue 51 at Range View Avenue.

6 thoughts on “What Does It Take to Get a Stop Sign?

  1. Who has brought this to the attention of the Council Office? While this blog details a strong argument in favor the of the signage, individuals, community organizations, etc. bringing attention to the need to the council office is the most effective way to get it done. Has anyone done that?

  2. Glad to see that you have taken the time to document the need, but my question is have you contacted either LAPD traffic safety office or the Huizar’s field office? The majority of stop signs are installed after neighbors request a traffic study. LAPD has been really responsive to adding stop signs in the Oxy neighborhood. I’m sure that if altered they would support placement of one on Ave 51.

  3. My question remains,who has taken individual steps to dialogue with the Council Office and advocate for the stop signs?

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  5. Contact your Council Office and have them work with LADOT staff. That’s what we did over on Avenue 64 (with both Pasadena and LA residents/staff), and we got new all-way stops at Ave 64/Ruby and Ave 64/Nithsdale. People still blow the signs, of course…

    And that is the primary reason new stop signs aren’t installed simply based on the number of complaints or inquiries. My anecdotal research shows about 25% strict adherence to stop signs. Maybe 40% total at least slow down to a mild roll. At least 75% do slow down, and the remainder just cruise through. So adding stop signs where they don’t make logical sense due to the character of the road or the pedestrian activities, can reinforce the bad behavior (since people will say “another dumb stop sign,” and continue to run stop signs).

    Have you thought about rectangular rapid flashing beacons, like the ones on Colorado?

    On the flip side, I do notice that a lot of people aren’t comfortable exercising their right to cross at any unsignalized intersection, whether there are stop signs, crosswalks, or any markings. The CA Vehicle Code is very clear that every intersection is a legal crossing, and vehicles must yield to pedestrians in a crossing.

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