Do Stop Signs Matter Anymore?
I live in what’s known as the Elmcrest area of Liverpool, NY, or Clay if you prefer. Elmcrest is the very first street every car turns on that’s looking to get into the rest of the neighborhood.
At the first 3-way conversion there are 3 stop signs, which means traffic is supposed to stop at each of them. In reality, most traffic only stops at one, which happens to be the street I live on. The majority of people who are going straight on Elmcrest, whether entering or leaving the complex, don’t even think about stopping… and this is in a residential area, where the people living close to those signs used to have kids, although they’ve now grown up and moved on.
This has irked me for 15 years, since I didn’t pay much attention to the driving patterns of other people when I first moved to the area. I’m lucky to have never been hit, due more to the fact that I practice safe driving habits (I don’t tend to trust other drivers) than the grace of other cars stopping when they realize they should. I know it irks the guy whose house the sign sits in front of, but as he said, unless the police and town deem it necessary to try to take measures to penalize the people who drive through without even pretending to stop there’s literally nothing that can be done.
I know this to be true because once, at a Liverpool Chamber event where there were a lot of local politicians, I took a moment to talk to them about that and another thing I wish the town of Clay would do for our particular area. I was told that we’d have to get together a petition of the people in the area to address both concerns and that it had to be at least 75% of the population before they would even begin to look into it. I asked 75% of what area; they said they couldn’t be specific because they didn’t know my area that well.
That’s a fine “how-do-you-do” moment (does anyone say that anymore?) isn’t it? Can you imagine trying to get an impossible number of people to sign within an unknowable area? I bet where these people live they’ve made sure to get everything they want without a stupid petition! I also bet they didn’t get a stupid petition together when they decided to put a new stoplight on Soule Road where it meets up with 481… because no one lives there!
Now, it’s possible that this bothers me more because I live in the neighborhood, but I’ve noticed it’s not the only place it happens in the area. In the Bayberry area there’s a stop sign when you come in via Buckley Road and have to turn right and then stop at another sign before turning left to get back on Bayberry itself. I’ve seen a lot of people drive right through that sign as if it doesn’t exist over the years. I assume many people feel it’s a useless sign and thus ignore it but I’m thinking that if it’s in a residential area then at least think about slowing down before pushing forward.
In general I think there are places that have way too many stop signs or stop messages painted on the road. For instance, in grocery store plazas (such as Wegmans on Route 57 or Price Chopper on Route 31) there are lots of places where people are supposed to stop before they proceed, yet the traffic patterns don’t warrant them because no one is ever there (unless there’s a major snowstorm coming or it’s the day before Christmas). Even I don’t stop at all those spots, and I consider myself a serial “stopper” overall.
These are just some of the things I encounter, and I’m betting that people across the area and across the country see similar types of things in their neighborhoods. Other than throwing down a man-made speed bump or some spikes, I don’t know what to do except keep playing it safe and wait for the big accident to occur to finally get the attention of an elected official. It seems that it takes a bit of blood-letting to get anything positive done.
Gruesome, isn’t it?