It’s time to stop making drivers stop for stoplights

Published: Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012 4:59 a.m. CDT

Dear Sir:

Let’s stop stoplight stops:  change red lights to flashing red or a yield to allow left turns or avoid full stops.

An article in the February 2009 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine (p. 20) pointed out that removing traffic lights can speed up urban travel.  In Northern Europe, the absence of traffic regulation forces drivers to be more responsible for their actions, and improved traffic flow and safety resulted.

The 1954 edition of HIGHWAY ENGINEERING, (Hewes et al, Wiley and Sons, New York) p. 272, recommends stoplights if rural traffic exceeds 500 per hour during the peak eight-hour period, from all directions, and 750/hour in urban areas, in the absence of some other reason for a stoplight.  Left turns can be reduced or prohibited by providing for them at an adjacent unsignalized location (p. 276).

Are most Morris stoplights even needed?

We have all been frustrated at being required to make full stops at stop signs where visibility is such that the driver need not stop or even slow, and to stop at red lights even though the intersection is clear. The Lisbon-Route 6 jog is an example of these frustrations.

Morning motorists proceeding south on Lisbon must wait up to almost two minutes for a 1/4-minute green, as must Lisbon traffic heading north, holding up Route 6 traffic east and west, and Lisbon left turns. The opportunity does exist for left turns when Route 6 traffic thins.

If signs directed left turning motorists to Black Street or Union Street as well, backups on Lisbon would be reduced. A left-turn lane on Route 6 to Black, in addition to those for Lisbon south and north, would help. There would then be no need of a red light for Route 6 motorists and two unsignaled left-turn opportunities for north and south--traveling Lisbon Road drivers.

This cannot have escaped the notice of traffic professionals in the Morris City bureaucracy. Hence it is necessary to pressure the city council and mayor to allow adoption of a more enlightenend traffic approach than planting stoplights and stop signs haphazardly in response to resident complaints, or however else such decisions have been made.

While on the subject of trafffic control, why aren’t Route 47 stoplights timed heading over Route 80?

The mix of two-way and four-way stop signs in dangerous — only the ridiculous 25 mph speed limit has saved me on occasion: label the signs so one need not search each street for a sign on edge.

Why only stop signs — is there any yield sign in town?

Leland, Ill., with a 20-mph speed limit and no apparently surviving business downtown might be a portent of the future of downtown Morris as shoppers defect to Interstate 80 area destinations.

Truly yours,

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