DIY traffic calming

Early this month, a neatly painted four-way crosswalk appeared at the intersection of Melwood and Finland Streets.  This intersection is one of the problem spots in a section where residents have been suffering the impact of speeding and careless drivers for years.  The crosswalk, it turned out, wasn’t done by the City, but by an anonymous resident.

While there was some concern that this vigilante action could jeopardize the formal request the PHCA had made for crosswalks at this intersection, there is also sympathy for what is clearly a sense of frustration about the situation.  PHCA president Alexis Miller contacted the City to let them know that while the organization  didn’t initiate this action (and doesn’t know who did), we share the same concern that motivated it.

In response, City officials shared the following information with us:

1. It is illegal for anyone to install a traffic control device in the public right of way other than the city or its designee. For that reason, the crosswalk should be removed.

2. The crosswalks are too narrow and do not align with the handicap ramps; aligning ramps within the crosswalk is an ADA requirement.

3. The City does not have the manpower to paint crosswalks at every four-way stop intersection; they try to paint ones in school zones and locations with high pedestrian volumes.

4. Drivers not obeying stop signs is a matter for enforcement.

PHCA President Alexis Miller is still communicating with the City and has made it clear that residents are obviously very concerned about safety.  The PHCA will continue to lobby for painted crosswalks at Melwood & Finland and Dobson & Hancock because this would help pedestrians feel more safe (regardless of enforcement issues).  Crosswalks send a clear message to automobiles that pedestrians are important, and they give pedestrians a sense of security.

At least one resident fully supports the new crosswalk, illegal or not — they posted this note on the community board at the intersection:

Now we are waiting to see if the City comes to remove the handpainted crosswalk.  In the meantime, we would welcome feedback from any residents living nearby as to whether the crosswalk seems to be slowing down drivers.

(Photos by Leslie Clague for the PHCA)

10 thoughts on “DIY traffic calming

  1. I heard a rumor about an intersection of an alley and another street in the Strip where a local business owner was gifted a stop sign for his/her business that said owner installed at said intersection because there was not one there and said business owner say way too many accidents.

    Anyhow the story I got was that within a few weeks public works was there removing it. When asked why they said the sign in place was old and needed changed and they put up a brand new one in it’s place.

    With any luck DPW will show up and fix this and not simply paint over it.

    • Don,

      The City has told us that the crosswalk is illegal and should be removed, so it seems unlikely that DPW will show up to fix it. At best, the current homemade version will be left in place — after all, it’s not harming anyone.


  2. Bravo!
    This makes me so proud of Polish Hill!
    It is the perfect solution. And drivers seem much more aware that this is a real stop sign.

  3. I spend a good amount of time on my porch and at the community table near this intersection and have observed a significant increase in folks obeying the stop signs, which had in the past been either less noticeable or easier to ignore. We have children and pets as do many other homeowners in the area, the simple addition of some paint on the the road is a lovely method of attracting attention to safety and changing driving behaviors. I hope the city is too busy solving actual problems to spend resources removing this improvement to our neighborhood. And if they do bother, I hope one of us puts it on YouTube…

  4. My family and I live right on the corner of Melwood and Finland and I can say with out a doubt that these crosswalks have made a huge difference. I am very proud to live in a community whose members go above and beyond to look out for one another.

  5. Maybe the City should recognize their lack of manpower and allow for some “open-source” municipal works contributions from citizens. They could make the list of “wishful” crosswalk locations public and publish very specific plans/code requirements/instructions on how to install and maintain DIY crosswalks… and then require that DIY crosswalks be sponsored by a local, civic organization and reported to the City (via a simple web submission platform) with photos of the final product.

    Win. Win.

  6. “Open source” municipal works contributions from citizens with sponsorship from a local organization & oversight by the City is a fantastic idea! Thanks, Tim Cook! This would really solve a myriad of safety concerns in our neighborhoods (speeding on residential streets & potholes galore) and help the city get ahead on its projects. I say we petition for this idea to become a pilot program for the city. Who’s in?

  7. Agree that a compromise crowd-sourced solution here is the way to go. City can publish the rules for proper crosswalks, let people know where they may NOT be placed and otherwise let them be, the more the merrier.

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