Oh, please. Originally uploaded by Payton Chung
What purpose does this stop sign serve? There is no cross traffic to stop for at School & Clifton in Lakeview.
This stop sign, and thousands more throughout Chicago, exist not to promote traffic flow but to make drivers obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians. Instead of creating more and useless rules (which do have consequences — like impacting the way bikes move through the city), how about honoring and enforcing the ones that we already have?
As a cyclist who respects safety and order, I resent being obligated to constantly break the law in order to stay safe. I find it unconscionable that regulations have turned cautious road users into outlaws, while rewarding dangerous behavior (like zooming between stop signs, something today’s cars do with ease). Street regulations — like laws about, say, marriage — should change to accommodate harmless and socially accepted behavior.
What is the law on this in Illinois? In some states localities can’t install traffic control devices unless warrants are met, though residential all-ways may not have them. But clearly many Chicago stop signs would never pass measured against objective criteria.
Ironically, the stop signs only make it more attractive to take side streets. When side streets get stop signs at major streets, that just makes crossing the major street easier, so residential ways like Belden become attractive through alternates.
Like so many other things in Chicago, traffic signs and even traffic flow on residential streets are matters of aldermanic prerogative. Get enough neighbors together to squeak loudly, get a stop sign, reverse the flow of traffic, get a mini roundabout. The aldermen don’t pay attention to and/or don’t have the knowledge to judge whether these things make sense or have the desired impact in practice.
Preaching to the choir man. I spent the last three years arguing with Alderman about useless stop signs. Basically, they will do anything to get over-zealous constituents to stop pestering them with “Won’t you think of the children?” type arguments. Only when the rational people speak up and let the Alderman know that they want these stupid stop signs removed will it ever happen. Getting the police to enforce the law is much harder.
The Chicago City Code adopts the Illinois Vehicle Code, which adopts the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. So technically the warrants must be met. However, in practice Lynn is right. CDOT allows Aldermen to pass ordinances to install stop signs (or no parking signs, or disabled parking signs, or residential permit signs, etc…) and then does whatever the Alderman wants regardless of national engineering standards. I contend that most of the stop signs in Chicago are technically illegal.
It’s one of those things like a comprehensive plan (or heck, stopping at stop signs!): in theory and in law, yes, Chicago must review zoning changes against a comp plan, but in practice? Whateverrr.
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