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Ask Dr. Delay: Four-way stop slows all traffic at dangerous 30th Avenue N and 52nd Street

The recent installation of a four-way stop at 30th Avenue N and 52nd Street has residents puzzled. The all-way stop slows traffic significantly, especially during peak rush hour in the morning and afternoon.

Frustrated readers have been filling the Doc's in-box.

Reader Dale Barrow wrote: "It will certainly congest traffic at rush hour, 30th Avenue N is one of the main roads across town and 52nd Street is just a road coming out of the neighborhood."

Daniel Grdgon wrote that he is at wit's end over the apparent inability of many folks to use some common sense and share the road wisely:

"We live in the Brentwood area of 30th Avenue N. I just hope we don't see severe injuries as has happened in the past on this road because of the lack of safety. I've been on my bike and nearly run over, and I've also been in my car doing 12 miles an hour for 10 blocks following a cyclist (or group of) who think they own it. I don't care how many stop signs or island medians they put in the road to slow down traffic, it doesn't work. If the city has money for all this, they should just spend the extra money to widen the road for a proper bike lane. Instead, we have multiple obstacles put in our way as motorists, to slow down the traffic to accommodate the cyclists."

We shared some of these letters with Mike Frederick, the city's manager of neighborhood transportation, and asked him to fill us in on how the new four-way stop came to fruition.

Frederick agreed with Barrow's observation that 30th Avenue N is a heavily traveled thoroughfare, but vehicle volume was not the only consideration the city staff weighed. The bottom line is that something needed to be done to improve safety, Frederick said.

"Motorists that usually drive this route will know that it is also frequented by many cyclists. We don't have to think back too far to remember the unfortunate crash that took place involving over 30 cyclists. So, in an effort to emphasize the presence of cyclists along this major east-west route, the city has also installed a marked bicycle lane along most of 30th Avenue N. Unfortunately, there are some sections of the roadway that are not wide enough to implement the marked bicycle lane. Along these sections motorists and cyclists must by law share the roadway," Frederick said.

He pointed out that 30th Avenue N at 52nd Street is where the lane widths narrow and the bicycle lane drops. In addition, Frederick said, this is also where the roadway crests in such a way that westbound traffic cannot see in advance that the road narrows and the bike lane drops off. This is of great concern for everyone and motorists who are unfamiliar with the road are caught by surprise, which makes for a dangerous situation for cyclists. This is why westbound cyclists are now required to leave the marked bicycle lane and merge with motorists through the intersection, Frederick said.

"Compound these conditions with vehicle operating speeds in excess of 45 mph in this residential neighborhood and we determined that conditions were met for the installation of an all-way stop," Frederick wrote in an e-mail last week.

Car flags let everyone know a novice is driving

Parents of student drivers might be pleased to know that two local moms have come up with a cool idea for warning people that a novice is behind the wheel.

Bethsabé Pedersen and Lorrie Heyman designed a student driver car flag, which they describe as a defensive driving safety tool for use by new drivers, especially teens. The portable flag features black and white racing stripes and large lettering that reads "Student Driver" and can be attached to any vehicle window.

Pedersen said she and Heyman came up with the idea because of their own harrowing experiences teaching their kids to drive. Check out the flags at newstudentdriver.com.

Doc Delay is on twitter! Get news from the road at www.twitter.com/DocDelay. Please e-mail Dr. Delay at docdelay@yahoo.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions.

Ask Dr. Delay: Four-way stop slows all traffic at dangerous 30th Avenue N and 52nd Street 03/06/10 [Last modified: Saturday, March 6, 2010 3:30am]
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