Four Way Stop

Making two intersections all-way stops in the Old Town section of Pinehurst would do little to improve pedestrian safety, according to a village study.

The study was conducted in response to a request from a number of residents of that area regarding the Woods/McIntyre and Fields/Everette roads intersections. It was to be presented to the Village Council during its meeting Tuesday afternoon.

There is “no clear evidence that pedestrian or bicycle traffic is high at either of these intersections,” the report concludes.

In the larger picture, the discussion Tuesday was expected to address the need for Pinehurst to have a clear policy or process in place to handle future requests.

Village Manager Jeff Sanborn, writing in a memo to council members, said the village “should examine the topic of pedestrian safety holistically.”

Village officials consulted the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the national standard, as well as other online resources. They advised against using stop signs to control speeds.

“Stop signs only reduce speeds in the immediate vicinity of the signs and tend to exacerbate speeding farther away,” the presentation says.

It continues that stop signs — especially where conditions do not warrant — tend to cause motorists to ignore or roll though them. In fact, they could actually cause more accidents, make drivers become “more aggressive” and speed up to make up for “perceived lost time.”

Tuesday’s presentation included data the village gathered from the last 21 years on speeds and accidents involving pedestrians. Across the village, there were 22 accidents involving pedestrians, 11 of which were on village-maintained streets. Two of those resulted in serious injury, while three were classified as minor and 14 as “possible” injury. The data showed that four of those accidents were at intersections, but none on neighborhood streets.

Based on that data, the village averages 0.08 pedestrian accidents per 1,000 residents compared with 0.32 statewide, the study says.

Southern Pines had six accidents involving pedestrians in 2018, while Aberdeen had four, according to the presentation.

The highest concentration of accidents in the village is in the hospital area and near the intersection of N.C. 211 and Gun Club Road, the study says. Accidents involving bicyclists being struck are “almost exclusively on state roads.”

Of the ones on neighborhood streets but not at an intersection, three were in Village Acres — two involving pedestrians and one involving a bike — one in Pinewild and one in Spring Lake Hills, both involving pedestrians.

The presentation included data from 125 speed surveys, with many roads being checked multiple times. It found that “main residential arteries are the biggest problem,” while Old Town roads, which includes this general area, “have consistently been found to be relatively acceptable.”

The worst areas most recently measured include Monticello (2017), Lake Hills (2016) and Juniper Creek (2016), all at speeds of 33 mph or greater.

Four years ago, following an outcry from residents in the Monticello Drive neighborhood about speeding and through-traffic, the council voted to install four-way stops at two intersections on the heavily traveled road: Surry Circle North/Surry Circle South and Bridle Path Circle/Appaloosa Place. Later studies done by the village found that the amount of traffic and speeds decreased slightly.

A number of years ago, the village also made the intersection of Dundee and Kelly roads a four-way stop. Dundee is considered a main residential artery.

Options for addressing “demonstrated” pedestrian safety problems that provide positive results to reduce pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes include roundabouts (75 percent), traffic signals at intersections (50 percent), pedestrian crossings (67 percent) and installing sidewalks (50 percent), according to the presentation Tuesday.

To a lesser extent, “traffic calming” methods such as narrowing streets, adding curves and installing speed humps could result in up to a 25 percent reduction in accidents.

Several non-engineered solutions include “enhanced/focused traffic enforcement” and devices such as speed trailers placed on streets that show motorists how fast they are going.

Sanborn told the council that both of these strategies have led to improved safety on village streets.

The village’s data showed that Fields Road averaged 676 daily trips both ways and an average speed of 24 mph. Woods averaged 633 trips a day with an average speed of 22.5 mph.

“Compared to these averages, both Fields and Woods have very light traffic and noticeably lower speeds,” the report says. “Compared to true problem areas in the village, Fields and Woods data is very low and under control.”

The report says neither of these intersections meet the national standard thresholds for all-way stops. One of those standards is at least five accidents in 12 months. Woods/McIntyre has seen three accidents in five years, while Fields/Everette has recorded one accident in five years.

When the village gets requests to review traffic safety conditions, it conducts traffic surveys and gathers other relevant information and “applies sound engineering principals.”

In the case of stop sign requests, the village has not always required that the national standard thresholds be met, “but that they at least be close enough to justify emplacement based on other factors and criteria,” according to the presentation. The village also works with the Police Department to focus on enforcement actions in areas with confirmed speeding problems.

Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or dsinclair@thepilot.com.

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(1) comment

4 way stops certainly help in #6.

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