A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Tough choice: Stop or roll through?

Written October 30th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

This is one of the stop signs added on Front Avenue N.E. to slow traffic.

Like other residential districts of Albany before it, the Willamette Neighborhood now has sprouted a crop of new stop signs to slow down traffic. This may work, or it may not.

Front Street, part of my favorite bike route through town, is where I noticed the change last week. The city put up two stop signs there, at Chicago and Columbus Street. I thought this was odd, because Front carries traffic to and from Simpson Park and the Talking Water Gardens. Why stop through traffic when there’s almost no traffic from the cross streets, especially the one block of Chicago that is a dead end?

What happened was that people living near East First and Second Avenues had been concerned about traffic.  On Aug. 6 the Albany Traffic Safety Commission heard from the residents. “A common theme was that the lack of stop signs on 1st and 2nd Avenues contributed to increased traffic volume and speed along those roads,” according to the minutes.

In response, the city staff had come up with a “pattern of alternating stop controls” similar to what exists in other neighborhoods. And after hearing from the residents, the three members of the traffic commission present voted to adopt that pattern, putting stop signs on First Avenue at Oak and Cleveland streets, on Second at Sherman and Pine, and on Front at Chicago and Columbus.

Here’s why this might backfire. Google led me to the Cornell Local Roads Program of Cornell University, which explains why stop signs are not recommended for speed control: “The placement of one or more stop signs to slow traffic will often have the opposite effect. Drivers will go faster between the signs to make up for ‘lost’ time. In addition to speeding, the drivers will need to accelerate and decelerate at each sign. A constant vehicle speed is generally safer for both vehicles and the other users along a highway.”

Ron Irish, the city’s traffic engineer, agrees that according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, stop signs are not supposed to be used for speed control. But he points out that the manual also allows stop signs to be considered from a neighborhood point of view. “That’s where the concept of a pattern of alternating stop signs comes from.”

“Whether an individual thinks it’s a good idea or a bad idea probably depends on whether they live on the street, pass through the neighborhood in the no-stop-sign direction, or use the stop-every-block direction.”

Or, whether they have consider whether they should stop and then have to crank the pedals extra hard to get going again or, ever so carefully, just roll through? (hh)

The stop sign on Front at Chicago N.E., a dead-end street.

11 responses to “Tough choice: Stop or roll through?”

  1. Terry says:

    With all due respect. Any driver just rolling through needs ticketed period.
    The biggest problem in neighborhoods is people perception of speed when not behind the wheel is usually incorrect.
    Not to say there aren’t some speeders but when the traffic studies are done they nearly never indicate an actual addressable issue.
    Rather than just saying no when it’s the proper response. The city offers all kinds of Mickey Mouse “solutions” to placate the residents who insist there is an issue even when they are presented with data proving otherwise.

  2. HowlingCicada says:

    “”” … stop signs are not supposed to be used for speed control. But he points out that the manual also allows stop signs to be considered from a neighborhood point of view. “That’s where the concept of a pattern of alternating stop signs comes from.” “””

    I wonder if alternating stop signs were installed in much of the square-grid parts of Corvallis (same in Albany?) to establish “traffic streets” and discourage driving elsewhere, because side streets are usually as wide as the main thoroughfares. Too wide in my opinion, but that’s a different issue.

    Makes for clumsy bike riding, but I can speed through a good diagonal route zig-zagging through side streets without encountering stop signs. Probably more dangerous than disobeying the “full stop” law.

  3. James Engel says:

    While putting up signs shouldn’t we dump the “Dead End” signs? They are so last century and demeaning to those living on the street as losers. It should be the P.C. correct term “No Outlet” to put us up to date!

    • centrist says:

      Had to look up the distinction
      A “dead end” has no cross streets and ends abruptly.
      A “no outlet” leads to cross streets, but no separate exit.
      No PC, just clarity

    • HowlingCicada says:

      Come on, James, “dead end” is the highest distinction for a residential street. It means almost no motorized traffic, thereby increasing property values. To improve things even more, add a walk/bike path to an adjoining dead end. Now you have a street where “losers” can’t afford to live, hence nobody to be demeaned.

  4. J. Jacobson says:

    This situation is not unlike the con job Walmart pulled on the City Planners. Walmart/Supercentres promised that overnight camping would be policed and forbidden in the massive parking lot. Walmart even went thru the motions of putting up “No overnight parking” signs to prove their sincerity. The City Moms and Pops fell for the con because they were too busy drooling over the property valuations. Now, on most mornings, the Walmart parking lot is akin to a full service KOA, with the added benefit of more than a few homeless folks living in their cars all parked right next to the No Overnight Parking. Of course, the Mayor has determined that homelessness is a lifestyle choice, so perhaps Walmart can be excused in those cases.

    • Avid Reader 1 says:

      Yes, the mayor thinks homeless people are completely at fault for their homelessness and want it that way. I don’t like to hear references to her “priviliged life” thinking, but don’t mind that, please keep reminding voters.,

  5. Linda LaRosseau says:

    Hasso Hering is, by his own words, a malefactor. Read his own damning text from today’s canard. Pondering lawlessness, Hering’s lamentation deflects: “Or, if they have consider whether they should stop and then have to crank the pedals extra hard to get going again? Or, ever so carefully, just roll through?”

    Fans of President Trump’s mangled wizardry understand the Hering stratagem. To deflect and distract from his own corrupt intent, Hering points a finger at “they.” They are the fall guys Hering exposes: “…they have…” and “…whether they should stop…”

    Finally, in his last sentence, the cat’s out of the bag. Like Trump, he can’t help himself. Hering casually implies a Moving Violation when he pens, “…just roll through.”

    Like President Trump, Hasso Hering understands the sway he holds over Albany. For decades he’s manipulated locals with Trumpian ease. And like Trump, Hering is fully prepared to use his Bully Pulpit to advance his cause.

    Mr. Hering – words have consequences. Your ginning-up unlikely stories citing unreliable sources will eventually backfire. We congratulate you on your cunning even as we note your fictional propensities.

    • James Engel says:

      Wow Linda….what a “segway” using a musing on a stop sign into bashing Trump. You Liberal Socialist Democrats just can’t let go that YOU lost the election. Be patient & bid your time as the pendulum will swing back. Bless your heart…..

      We should be thankful that we have a person of H.H. thinking that brings items to a forum for discussion & comment. Wouldn’t happen in N. Korea!!!

  6. CAL says:

    The Willamette River East Neighborhood group, WREN, was formed to make our neighborhood better. We are not working toward gentrification or PC rules and regulations. We are simply trying to make our neighborhood a safer place to live. To do this we get involved in issues such as the drag racing on First Ave. We work with City government, social service agencies, and other Non-Profit groups. Sometimes our ideas are ignored or blown out of proportion by others, but sometimes our ideas work out well. It’s how things get done! My response to the nay-sayers is “Get involved”. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and criticize.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      “My response to the nay-sayers is “Get involved”. Don’t just sit on the sidelines and criticize.”

      Spot on – But that is an American tradition and so much easier to do! :-)


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