CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: BETH

REALLY, IT'S TIME TO STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES

For those of you unfamiliar with an octagonal red street sign with the white capital letters S T O P on it here's a refresher course. The sign means STOP, halt, come to a complete standstill, not roll through, yield briefly or ignore completely.

Even my 2-year-old nephew knows what it means. And also that school buses have these signs.

The intersection where Joyner Street crosses Kincannon is now a four-way stop. The flashing red light remains, as do the stop signs on each side of Joyner, but stop signs also have been added to each side of Kincannon. There are bright yellow signs with a smaller red octagonal shape and a bold black arrow a half-block back from each side of the intersection warning of the new signs.

I spent my lunch hour the first day the signs were unveiled watching out the window to see how many people went straight through the intersection without so much as slowing down; how many stood cars on their noses trying to get stopped before they were in the middle of the intersection; how many people saw the signs there but casually rolled through the intersection rather than coming to a complete stop; and how many actually stopped. There were a few who stopped

I'm glad to see the signs. I welcome them. I'm surprised that in the time I've lived on Joyner I've yet to witness even a small fender bender at the intersection. I have heard quite a few screeching brakes from close calls. Late at night on the weekends I actually believe some cars may have become airborne while traveling at speeds not compatible with the speed limit signs in the neighborhood. Some nights it sounded like a drag strip.

A small rise on one side of the intersection and a small sloping straight shot on the other have made it a difficult intersection to maneuver at times. It's hard to see cars coming over the ridge until they are right on you.

It's a busy intersection in the morning and midafternoon, when parents are carrying and picking up kids at Joyner Elementary and a bypass of sorts at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for those wanting to avoid traffic on West Main or West Jackson streets.

I'm sure it will take people some time to get used to the new signs. Some have been traveling this particular route or lived in the neighborhood for many, many years. A straight shot through the intersection had become a natural.

The signs, covered with black plastic, were up for a week before they were unveiled Jan. 12. Some people even heeded the stop signs while they were covered, which made the intersection a scary place because you didn't know if you should really trust those who had stopped and go, while still worrying about those coming from the opposite direction who might plow your garden if you pulled out or dared turn in the intersection.

The neighborhoods around Joyner Street School are all busy, crowded with kids bicycling, roller blading or playing ball in the streets, people walking dogs, jogging and walking, etc. Not really any different from most neighborhoods.

It's now one month later and I continue to spend lunch hours glancing out the window to watch vehicles go right on through the stop sign. I'm sure one day some of them will meet with a surprise.

While the snow and ice were on the ground it was hard to come to a stop at the intersection, so most folks slowly maneuvered through it without coming to a complete halt. But the ice is now gone and it's once again time to stop.

So, on behalf of all the neighbors, kids and pets, please be careful when driving through our neighborhood, and don't forget the new stop sign.

Beth Bunch Clements is Daily Journal lifestyle editor.

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