Hamilton vetoes Bloomington city council decision to reinstall 7th Street stop signs

Mid-afternoon on Friday, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton released a statement vetoing the city council’s action taken last week,  to approve reinstallation of  stop signs at four intersections on 7th Street.

The stop signs that have already been reinstalled at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection will remain in place—through a new 180-day order issued by the city engineer.

The stop signs at Morton, Washington, and Lincoln Streets will not be reinstalled, unless the council votes to override the mayor’s veto.

It looks unlikely that the council would be able to achieve the two-thirds majority (6) that is needed to override a veto. Still, a possible vote on a veto override appears on next Wednesday’s (Oct. 18) meeting agenda for the city council.

The council’s vote last week on the reinstallation of the stop signs was 5–4—along the same familiar split that has marked many of the controversial votes taken by this edition of the council.

Voting for the ordinance were: Sue Sgambelluri, Ron Smith, Dave Rollo, Jims Sims, and Susan Sandberg. Voting against it were: Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Steve Volan, and Kate Rosenbarger.

The original ordinance on stop-sign reinstallation, which was approved by the council last week, was initiated by the Hamilton administration. But just one intersection—at 7th and Dunn—was a part of the original ordinance. The point of the original ordinance was to make permanent the reinstallation of stop signs at 7th and Dunn, which had already been installed in April.

One of the salient data points introduced by the city engineer at last week’s meeting was the fact that an increase in crashes was seen in the corridor, after the removal of the stop signs. But the crash numbers returned to about the same level as before—after the city reinstalled the stop signs at 7th and Dunn in April 2023. The reinstallation of the signs at 7th and Dunn was based on a 180-day order issued by the city engineer.

The three additional stop signs came from an amendment proposed by Dave Rollo on the day of the council’s meeting. His amendment, approved on the same 5–4 split as for the ordinance as amended, added stop signs at Morton, Washington, and Lincoln Streets.

Hamilton’s veto statement acknowledges the politics of a new city council that will see five new members on the nine-member group to start 2024: “The council vote to revert three intersections to the pre-2021 condition, with the possibility of it being changed again in a few months, can cause more confusion and directly presents public safety concerns.”

Hamilton’s message adds: “Additional time, hopefully enough to allow a full year of data since the April 2023 changes, will allow for more robust and meaningful data to inform any significant adjustments.”

The removal of five stop signs along the corridor accompanied the opening of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane in mid-November 2021.  The removal of the stop signs, which had been approved by the city council, was intended to make the east-west corridor a more attractive transportation option for bicyclists.

City engineer Andrew Cibor’s initial recommendation, after reviewing crash data subsequent to removal of the stop signs, had been to reinstall stop signs at all five intersections. But the city’s traffic commission, and the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission, both rejected reinstallation of all the stops.

Both groups recommend reinstalling the stop signs at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection.

11 thoughts on “Hamilton vetoes Bloomington city council decision to reinstall 7th Street stop signs

  1. So what happens now if heaven forbid a citizen is injured or killed on the public right of way.

    1. People will point fingers and claim it was “the other side’s” fault, and the citizen will be injured or dead.

  2. What’s actually needed is to make 7th Street a through-street for bicycles but a stop-sign street for cars. Traffic crossing 7th Street would stop, but only at the bicycle lanes (not at the car lanes).

    If a car were coming from the north, it would stop athwart the 7th-Street car-traffic lanes, where (unlike at present) it would be protected by a stop sign from east-west car traffic. Once the bicycle lane is clear, the car would complete the crossing of 7th Street, opening it for cars going east-west who had stopped and waited.

    If the car has come from the south, it would stop at the bicycle lanes and then, once they are clear, it would have the right-of-way to cross the whole intersection, as east-west car traffic would stop at the stop sign.

    The present set-up requires north-south traffic (both cars and bicycles) to spot fast traffic (both cars and bicycles) coming through from both the east and the west. That’s four fast lanes of through-traffic to evaluate separately. No wonder accidents are up!

    Probably the safest procedure at present is to stop and then, when it’s safe, at least partially occupy the first cross-lanes you encounter (car lanes if you’re coming from the north, bicycle lanes if you’re coming from the south) and then check the status of the remaining east-west lanes before proceeding. That’s what I have been doing.

    The mixed system described above would resemble this procedure but modify it to ensure that bicycles could sail through while cars would stop and then cross in safety.

    I admit that it seems complicated. Whose fault is that?

      1. Neither cars not bicycles should be going faster than the speed limit. The best way to insure they are not on that stretch of 7th is to reinstall the stop signs.

  3. “City engineer Andrew Cibor’s initial recommendation, after reviewing crash data subsequent to removal of the stop signs, had been to reinstall stop signs at all five intersections. “

    I guess now that Cibor has been ignored by the bicycle illuminati in spectacular fashion they will stop browbeating people who criticize features of the transportation plan with the admonition that critics should defer to expert opinion? Not likely. The cult of the too-lazy-to -stop-at-a-stop-sign marches on.

    I bought a bicycle at the Bike Rack on 6th Street in 1976 and rode it for 40 years. I don’t ride it anymore because bicyclists who think they’re immune from traffic regulations put everyone at risk and I’m unlikely to heal completely from any resulting injuries, assuming I survive.

    This is deadly serious stuff, as the bicyclist who died riding the wrong way on Atwater would tell you, if she could.

    I was hit by a car while walking in a cross walk at Kirkwood and Dunn. I’ve had more close encounters with e-scooters than I can count. Bloomington has created an environment where one only feels safe with a ton of steel wrapped around one.

    And while driving one’s auto one must assume that that bicyclist is going to blow through that stop sign because one has seen so many do it before.

    1. I note that you mention only two accidents in your comment, both where someone was hit by a car, yet you’re suggesting that it is bicycles that pose a danger to others.

      1. In the case of the bicyclist riding the wrong way on Atwater it was the cyclist who caused the accident by riding the wrong way, yet you seem to suggest it is the motorist who was caused danger to the cyclist, rather than the cyclist causing danger to herself.

      2. We have bike riders from all over the world. Bloomington requires neither bicycle licenses, (which it ought to have as a “civil” city, enabling accident-causers to ride off without assuming any responsibility,) nor a cohesive bike codification of legal bike laws to follow, mandatory, for bike riders to acknowledge and follow. If bikes were licensed, (as they were 65 years ago in NY for a paltry $1. w a sticker on the back mud guard) we would have accountability traceable to the bike rider AND would have the possibility to return stolen bikes to their proper owners AND prosecute the louts who steal bikes!

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