Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monona City Council Preview - April 19, 2010

NOTE: Tonight's City Council meeting will be held at the Community Center (also Finance).
Revision: In my original post I stated, "The use of traffic signs is regulated by the federal MUTCD. Compliance with the manual isn't just a good idea, it's mandatory. The city is not free to install whatever signs we decide to put up." That statement is true as far as it goes.

The MUTCD, however, has parts that are mandatory (called 'standards') and parts that are called 'guidance' ("Guidance—a statement of recommended, but not mandatory, practice in typical situations, with deviations allowed if engineering judgment or engineering study indicates the deviation to be appropriate."). The statement "STOP signs should not be used for speed control" in 2b.04 is guidance and the city could deviate from the guidance if engineering judgment supported it.

[end of revision]

Original Post:
The Monona city council meets tomorrow night for the final time with alder Kathy Thomas among its members (provided she doesn't decide to run again in the future which wouldn't really shock anyone, would it?).

A full agenda is on tap. AGENDA 4-19-10

The Monona Drive sidewalk is back for another decision on its width - now it's down to 5' or 6.5'.

Resolution 10-04-1697, Reconsidering Sidewalk Width for Monona Dr. Phase 2 Construction.pdf

Another significant item is a the proposed installation of stop signs on Winnequah Road at Maywood and at Graham.

Take special notice that this is item is starred for immediate action. I find that quite curious.

Ordinance 4-10-614, Emplacing Stop Signs on Winnequah Rd.pdf

Map of Proposed Stop Signs on Winnequah Rd.pdf

The memo (above) does a nice job of summarizing the situation. Public Safety recommended speed tables, more speed limit signs, and marked crosswalks (and eventual removal of the chokers). Public Works recommended stop signs as well as more speed signs and marked crosswalks. The stop signs would be temporary. Unless approved on a permanent basis by the city council, the stop signs would be removed by October 1, 2010.

The use of traffic signs is regulated by the federal MUTCD. Compliance with the manual isn't just a good idea, it's mandatory. The city is not entirely free to install whatever signs we decide to put up. See 84.02 (4) (e) Wis. Stats. (MUTCD: 2009 Edition, dated December 2009). Chapter 2B - Regulatory Signs, Barricades, and Gates

The MUTCD explicitly states "STOP signs should not be used for speed control." The proposed stop signs do not meet any of the warrants set forth in the manual (arguably a 3-way stop at Owen/Winnequah would meet the warrants).

The staff memo from city engineer Rich Vela states their opinion quite clearly:

Both Police Chief Ostrenga and I do not favor the installation of stop signs for speed control. Stop signs are appropriately used for the control of traffic movements at intersections. The installation of unwarranted stop signs may likely lead to increased noise (vehicle braking and engine acceleration), poor compliance (both vehicular and bicycle), increased vehicle emissions, increased vehicle speeds some distance from the affected intersections, and increased number of accidents. Unwarranted multi-way stops may present potential liability problems for undocumented exceptions to accepted warrants.
That should really end the discussion of using stop signs to control speed, but it won't. Should be a lively debate.


  1. Kellie Unke - 6004 WinnequahMonday, April 19, 2010

    I invite you to come sit on my front porch and watch the crazy vehicle traffic! There are vehicles passing one another. Come watch the commercial vehicles that are traveling very much in excess of the 25 MPH speed limit (how quickly do you think they could stop as my son's Basketball rolls into the street?) Come watch the vehicles that pass the bus (which is stopped, lights flashing & stop sign out) while I'm waiting with my son to get on/off the bus! There not only is a speed issue on Winnequah.....more importantly there is a safety issue for all who use it! Bicyclists, walkers, runners & vehicles using Winnequah are all at risk. Being able to safely cross this street to use the many parks and the beach with my son & allow my son to walk or ride his bike to school is a day I look forward to. There are so many children living on Winnequah just from Bridge Rd to Schluter (where the first stop sign is)-- we need to protect them, allow them to safely cross this street and use the beautiful parks and beaches! Let me know when you would like to stop by! I'll invite all the neighborhood children over so you can see their beautiful faces....maybe that will make it a real issue for you!

  2. Just a reminder that the City Council Meeting & Finance & Personnel meetings have been moved to the Community Center tonight as the Library will be hosting a wizard rock concert.

  3. I commute via bike regularly on the stretch of Winnequah for which the stop signs are proposed. As a bike commuter, I would be opposed to these two additional stops.

    The stop at the corner of Maywood and Winnequah would seem to be a particularly poor placement for bicyclists. I can imagine that many bikers coming down the hill from Schluter would be tempted to ignore the stop sign since they have no traffic approaching from their right and would want to conserve momentum.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Kelli Unke, your comments completely misstate my post. Can we have a civil discussion of the problem without immediately pointing fingers?

    I did not say there is not a problem. I said that stop signs are inappropriate to address the speeding problem.

    Stop signs are not a panacea. When drivers don't perceive a real need to stop you will get poor compliance. Pedestrians may get a false sense of security.

    The problem for pedestrian safety is caused by putting a high number of vehicles (about 5000 per day) and a high number of bikers and a high number of pedestrians together in the road. Putting up stop signs will not do anything to address that problem.

    The chokers or bump-outs that were intended to slow traffic have not really succeeded in that object. And the way the chokers were installed has worsened the problem of mixing the pedestrians, bikers, and cars together.

    We need sidewalks to really improve pedestrian safety problem on that stretch of road. I doubt that there is the political will to put in sidewalks, but that doesn't change the facts.

    There are a number of other measures that could improve safety.

    - Add marked crosswalks (with ped flags)

    - Add two or more speed limit signs with electronic LED display of your speed.

    - a 3-way stop sign at Owen/Winnequah given they are both local collectors and sight distance is poor on Owen entering Winnequah.

    - Possibly other pavement marking that emphasizes speed limit- SLOW pavement markings

    - keep the chokers, but level the walkways and straighten the curbs at the entry and exit points - or at least straighten the curb line on entry and exit.

    - establish and publicize a Speed Watch program where residents borrow a radar gun, record plates and city sends letter to registered owner

    - mandatory safety briefing with Monona police for all city contractors (e.g. road builders, tree company, Green Valley, etc.).

    - Seek safe routes to school funding (possibly for eventual sidewalks).

  6. "Take special notice that this is item is starred for immediate action. I find that quite curious."

    At this point, why does this surprise you.

  7. "establish and publicize a Speed Watch program where residents borrow a radar gun, record plates and city sends letter to registered owner"

    Me! Pick Me! OH! Please Pick ME!
    Do I get my own squad car?

  8. Walking home from Maywood park with my kids is ridiculously unsafe at times. I'm actually surprised there aren't more accidents at that bend - bring on the stop sign!

  9. Create more dead end streets. Everyone should have one.

  10. Hi Doug-

    I have a question or a thought-both really. I take a walk near a city park and for the last few weeks have noticed a "strange" plant. It is a Reflexed Trillium or Prarie Trillium or the Bloody Butcher. This plant was really bothering me because it was so different.

    It took me a little research to figure it out. The WDNR has labeled this plant one of special concern.

    In any case, I think it would be cool to label or plaque with information certain plants and trees in our parks. I know there would be a fiscal note attached and the city is not swimming in money. If we imagine that I think this is a good idea and am willing to donate the money-what is the first step?

    I have not thought of the downside, but am sure there is one.

  11. "what is the first step?" Go to a Parks Board meeting with your idea. You might want to contact the Parks director before hand. Or contact the alders on the board in advance also.