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.
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.
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?
Undoubtedly, there is an outdated traffic manual which states that a 4-way stop isn’t warranted at this location because it will slow cars down on Avenue 51.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.
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?
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.