Stops for cyclists on 24th Street - Ruth Longoria

The new three-way-stop at the curve around S.E. 24th Street onto 78th Avenue S.E. is giving some neighbors pause, but it doesn't appear to be causing any bicyclists to put their foot to the ground in a proper/legal Island stop.

Neighbors west of the new community center are wondering what's up since the city erected three new stop signs -- two for cars and one for bicyclists -- this month on S.E. 24th Street behind the wooden fenced area of the Park & Ride. Response to the signs has been mixed, with some residents upset enough to ask their neighbors to contact city councilmembers.

``Let the city know that our neighborhood is not pleased with the unnecessary solution to putting stop signs on a road and you want them removed,'' a flier recently stuffed in many mailboxes along that stretch of the road reads. Many neighbors just don't think the signs are necessary.

``I have no idea why the city put the signs up,'' said Mark Smith, 40. Smith said he doesn't drive that route anymore, since the signs (and subsequent stops) make for a slower commute. ``I don't know if that was (the city's) reasoning, to cut down on traffic, but I guess it's working.''

The signs received a mixed review from longtime 78th Avenue residents Bennett and Jan Anderson.

``My husband and I really don't agree on this,'' Jan Anderson said. ``I think it is a good idea to have a stop sign to warn people to slow down.'' But, her husband thinks the signs really don't serve a lot of purpose.

``You have to slow down anyway to go around the curve,'' Bennett Anderson said. And, the sign for bicyclists isn't likely to help a lot either, he added. ``We have a lot of bicyclists, but they never slow down for the stop signs.''

He said he enjoys seeing bicyclists riding down 24th Street to 78th Avenue and then down 22nd Street. ``We get a lot of bicyclists, they don't hurt anything, but they don't slow down either.''

The Andersons recalled close calls between bicycle and cars. ``But I really don't think the signs are going to help,'' Bennett reiterated.

City officials say Bennett's reaction is in the minority. ``Most of the neighbors agree that the signs are needed there,'' said Glenn Boettcher, city maintenance director. He also mentioned that the city has recently added some new signs for bicyclists along the Interstate 90 trail.

Maretta Holden, a resident of S.E. 24th Street, approves of the stop signs. It's long been her concern that there's not enough signage on the Island to show bicyclists where to go and when to stop.

``I've been accosted by bicyclists, not from the Island, who want to know where the `bike path' is. A lot of people come here to ride their bikes, but they don't know where the bikes are supposed to go,'' Holden said.

There's also problems with cyclists nearly running over pedestrians, she said. ``Especially over in front of the Park & Ride, bikes come roaring along, some passing and saying `On your left,' and then their partner is roaring by at the same time on your right. Sometimes they ride in packs, rapidly across the intersections, it can be awful when you're trying to cross the street because you're watching for cars, but the bicycles are an extra factor.''

Holden hopes the new stop signs means that the city is beginning to post more direction for cyclists and drivers.

``There's different kinds of paths on the Island, that need to be shared by bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as areas where cars and cyclists are together. If it's supposed to be shared there needs to be some rules of the road.''

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