Friday, July 29

Endangered Species

North Texas Endangered Species - a Residential Yield Sign
For the Record, Motorists Behave Just as They Would if it'd Been a Stop Sign
Earlier, I wrote about the Idaho Stop Sign law and wondered why nobody ever seemed to think of not only implementing it for cyclists, but for motorists as well. John Romeo Alpha didn't think that was a good idea, because I think he doesn't believe in the "Land Rover Rule" corollary as applied to the John Forester dictum, namely "Motorists fare best when they act, and are treated, as the drivers of other vehicles."

One solution to stop sign mayhem is the replacement of most stop signs with what is an endangered species, namely the Yield Sign at locations other than freeway onramps. I made a detour on my way home from work to take a photo of the only such sign I know of that is in North Texas. I LOVE THAT SIGN!!!!!!!!!!!

A second solution would be to adopt my "equal opportunity Idaho stop" law.

However, I decided to reread the Texas Statutes about stop and yield signs. As it turns out, there is an easy solution. The law, as it currently stands, follows:

Sec. 545.153. VEHICLE ENTERING STOP OR YIELD INTERSECTION. (a) Preferential right-of-way at an intersection may be indicated by a stop sign or yield sign as authorized in Section 544.003.
(b) Unless directed to proceed by a police officer or official traffic-control device, an operator approaching an intersection on a roadway controlled by a stop sign, after stopping as required by Section 544.010, shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that has entered the intersection from another highway or that is approaching so closely as to be an immediate hazard to the operator's movement in or across the intersection.
(c) An operator approaching an intersection on a roadway controlled by a yield sign shall:
(1) slow to a speed that is reasonable under the existing conditions; and
(2) yield the right-of-way to a vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another highway so closely as to be an immediate hazard to the operator's movement in or across the intersection.
(d) If an operator is required by Subsection (c) to yield and is involved in a collision with a vehicle in an intersection after the operator drove past a yield sign without stopping, the collision is prima facie evidence that the operator failed to yield the right-of-way.

Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

OK, cutting through all the legalese, here're what the rules are. I'll bet they are pretty similar where you live since most places base their traffic laws on a common, uniform model code. You have to STOP at a stop sign. Otherwise, the rules are the same as for a yield sign, except that the law goes a bit further to note that if you DON'T stop at a yield sign and collide, it is YOUR FAULT. In reality, that is the same as the Idaho stop.
BUT, if you look at the little item in (b) that I put in red bold, we could make stop signs all over the place conform to the REAL world, without having to add a single new law or replace a single stop sign.

One example is shown below:
Just stick these puppies underneath about 99% of all the stop signs that currently plague ALL traffic in a hopeless attempt to slow motorists down generally. Those same motorists will still slow WAY down whenever they see a stop sign with one of the ones with a modification advisory below it. If needed, you could even tell everyone they better not be going over 1mph when the they treat it as a yield sign. But such refinements bear the risk of sign variety, know in the nuclear weapons trade as "proliferation."

Of course, it isn't very inspired, and probably doesn't conform to the traffic device rules, but I don't claim to be a traffic engineer. If you were determined to pander to people on bikes, you could make the sign "Cyclists treat as yield." If you were an animal lover, you could make it "Dog Carts Need Not Stop." I'll bet each of you could come up with a dozen variants. For example, PaddyAnne might want one saying "Bikes With COOL Bells Treat as Yield." John Romeo Alpha might want "Stop if you Don't Get Up and Go Ride." In Austin, they might want signs saying "Treat as Yield if You are a Longhorn." Still, personally, all humor aside, I think such stop sign supplements, to be generally understood, ought to be simple and nondiscriminatory. What's more, sign proliferation is NOT a good thing. Traffic works as well as it does because the rules are simple and few. THAT, more than anything else, is the problem with much new bike stuff such as bike boxes and green paint - it confuses people. KISS is an honored principle.

I can think of hundreds of places these little gems could go. And, while they might remain endangered, the few remaining Yield signs around could take comfort that many other signs were with them in the spirit of Texas 545.153(c).

Pre-emptive war was not a "Bush" thing. From 1972, Randy Newman sings an anthem of why you don't want the nuclear thing to get out of control. To video from Dr Strangelove, inspired by Los Alamos Bikes.
Listen to it at another level and it could be a cyclist anthem though I would never want to drop the big one on my motorists.


Khal said...

Yield and prima facie is good

Khal said...

Actually, we need a new start on this sign non proliferation problem. We need to decrease the total number of stop signs and go to a verifiable situation where all of us are bound by the smallest number of Yield signs that can be agreed upon.

Steve A said...

Now, as a "small government" kind of guy, I really LIKE Khal's inspiration of removing stop signs and replacing them with - NOTHING! Before you know it, he'll come out of the closet and admit to being a righty with strong libertarian tendencies.

John Romeo Alpha said...

Under current conditions and laws where I live, I conclude that cyclists should make a complete stop at stop signs. If we're just spittballing about what could be, I'm in agreement with Khal's suggestions.

Steve A said...

Under current conditions and laws in 49 of the states, cyclists and motorists should make a complete stop at stop signs. In the 50th state, cyclists are given special dispensation. I think we're talking about what COULD be.

Why should stop signs only get yanked by vigilantes when they are on bike paths?

Chandra said...

The sign makes sense to me, and will likely make sense to the rest of the "logical thinkers".

However, I do feel that I should say this: In training a dog, one of the rules of thumb, is to keep the command, a short one. For instance, you may want to stick to, "Shaggy, come", instead of "Shaggy would you please come here, can't you see I am calling you?".

There will be a learning curve with the sign, IMHO.

Peace :)

Steve A said...

I think Chandra suggests deleting the "Treat as" in the graphic. A tiny bit of confusion in the motorist's mind creates a delay, which is what the objective of the sign was in the first place. I TOTALLY agree with Chandra that lots of words lead to missing the message. Better than "Shaggy, Stay" is "Stay."

Chandra's admonition rules out "Chandra says you better be careful at this intersection and let others go first. OTOH, if there's nobody else around, don't bother to make a FULL stop, just slow down to make sure you're not going to T bone somebody and then be on your way."

Chandra said...

Now-a-days, I get two positive responses to, "Shaggy come", one from him and the other from his buddy, Chaka LOL!

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