BROADWAY — City officials will recommend installing stop signs along Broadway at various intersections due to public safety concerns as well as make modifications to existing traffic control devices.
However, the installation of stop signs has raised some concerns amongst cyclists who say installing stop signs will impede commuting on a major bikeway.
In the fall of 2012, various city departments began receiving a number of inquiries from people who lived along Broadway about accidents, said Sam Morrissey, city traffic engineer.
In response, between 2012 and April of this year, city officials collected information on all the traffic volume speeds, accidents and records and concerns in the area, he said.
They found that from November 2007 to June 2013, there were 28 total accidents at the six intersections, he said. Of those 28, 17 of those accidents were the type that could be corrected by all-way stop signs, Morrissey said.
In April, he said mailers were sent out to residents who lived on Broadway between Princeton and Franklin streets telling them stop signs would be installed at four of the six intersections that didn’t have stop signs to make sure people were aware of what was going on.
Due to a rising concern from local bicycle advocates, Morrissey said city officials will revise their recommendation to decrease the number of stop signs.
City officials will collect more data on cut-through traffic, increased speeding and adverse impacts to bicyclists on Broadway. The full recommendation will be sent in a revised notice in a month or two to get input from residents at all homes one block in each direction from the initial mailing area, he said.
Some of the other modifications recommended include making sure there are uniform crosswalk markings and changing some existing sign locations to make sure they are more visible, he said.
For some bicycling advocates, concerns are varied.
Gary Kavanagh, a bike advocate who is also part of the Bicycle Advisory Committee for the Metro Expo Line, said he can see where Morrissey is coming from because there have been quite a few collisions at those intersections.
“It’s a neighborhood kind of street, but it gets quite a bit of through traffic,” he said. “For a lot of people who ride bikes or [are] commuting, one of the challenges can be the streets we are trying to discourage drivers from going fast on are also kind of the through route for bicycling.”
He said bicyclists are frustrated because if they’re trying to abide by the letter of the law, stopping at every single stop sign can cause a loss of momentum and getting back up to speed, depending on how far the distance is, can be a physical and significant effort.
In place of stop signs, he said some solutions can be installing small neighborhood roundabouts to regulate an intersection or speed tables, which are a little different than a normal speed bump, or raised intersections which effectively raise the entire intersection and function as speed bump forcing all parties to slow down. In Idaho, Kavanagh said, there is a law that allows a bicyclist to treat stop signs as if they were yield signs.
He said he understands Morrissey is doing his best to manage everyone’s concerns.
“For most of the bicycling community, we put a high value on traffic safety and I know that for some of those intersections where…a lot people are crossing, a lot of times drivers are not yielding or stopping for pedestrians and that can be pretty hazardous,” he said.
Cynthia Rose, director of Santa Monica Spoke, a local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, (LACBC), said “safety is paramount.” The 30-year resident said her main mode of transportation is bicycling, and she travels on the Broadway corridor.
“We would never advocate something just to protect the rights of bicyclists if it wasn’t safe for all road users,” she said. “We feel strongly that there are other traffic mitigations that can be installed that will improve the safety.”
She said Broadway is one of the major east-west bikeways and a connection for many bicycling commuters who enter the city from West L.A.
“This is a drastic first step that will seriously degrade the quality and usefulness of our major bikeway,” she said.
A boon has been the trimming of the planting in the median that has improved commuters’ line of sight, she said.
Residents in the area were also concerned about safety.
Gregg Heacock, former president of the Santa Monica Mid City Neighbors, who lives on Yale Street between Colorado Avenue and Broadway, said residents were concerned about many issues, including being able to walk across the street.