Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yield Sign Go Sign Stop Sign Whaaa Sign?

John Greenfield's "Vote with your Feet" has a very interesting article up about the Lakefront Path's signage through Uptown:

I've gotta say, I was confused by these signs when riding up there this weekend - who's supposed to do what? I recognize that the rules of the road make it pretty clear how road and trail users should interact with this intersection but if all of the users of the road were clear on the rules of the road, we'd never have accidents.

Road users (cyclists, peds, and drivers alike) speed, roll through stop signs, blow red lights, illegally pass with a double yellow line, merge across double white lines, etc etc. People are pretty selfish, and that's evident in how they operate a vehicle. When confronted with the LFP/Montrose intersection, I can see cyclists not yielding to stopped cars, and I can see cars thinking that path users will be stopping because the driver can see the back of the Yield sign. (See pictures at linked story, above)

Once Chicago's back in full swing this summer, these intersections are CRAZY. You've got mulitple cars lined up in every direction, waiting for path traffic to clear while path users approaching the intersection see that traffic's stopped, speeding up to get through the intersection while cars are still waiting for the path's crosswalk to clear.

The best solution here is an overpass/underpass situation, but those are rather expensive, certainly more costly than a sheet metal Stop or Yield sign. Everyone using these intersections should approach them with greater caution now than before - if drivers are under the impression that path users will be stopping, that places path users at an even greater risk of injury while negotiating these crossings.

Be smart, be safe. Everyone should treat it like a 4-way stop. If there's a car approaching the path, trail users should assume they're invisible to the driver, that the driver is going to roll the sign. Drivers should be mindful that trail users are going to treat the yield signs similarly invisible and blast across without blinking an eye.

It'll be interesting to see what kind of court cases come out of this signage situation. Having argued both sides of the argument from an insurance adjuster's perspective, this intersection is kind of a nightmare when it comes to liability determination. I just hope that cyclists with a legitimate claim don't find themselves holding the short end of the stick because of an overly defensive insurance company.

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