Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Stop signs in City Beach neighborhood already helping

| June 9, 2021 1:00 AM

I would like to thank the city and the City Council for efficiently and appropriately addressing the traffic needs of the City Beach neighborhood. We have seen unprecedented changes to the traffic in our neighborhood in a short amount of time largely due to increased use by cars, trucks, trailers, RVs and pedestrians.

Over 120 residents signed a petition asking the city to address the issue in an effort to protect our families, pets and neighborhood.

Increased vehicular speeds is one of the big concerns. But the issue is multifactorial and not comparable to generic guidelines from Colorado, Michigan or California (as a previous letter referenced).

We are a unique neighborhood that is mixed-use with daily commuters, tourists, bikers and pedestrians, and also includes Soroptimist Park with it's own special set of traffic needs. The bike path has three access points along Edgewood Place where visibility is limited due to foliage and a western-setting sun. Edgewood is a 25 mph residential street, but feels like a 35 mph industrial road due to the railroad along the south side and minimal home frontages. The increased traffic on Wisconsin and over 200 new residential units in the area has put an untested level of pressure on our neighborhood.

Something needed to be done before even more summer traffic arrives. Simply put, I'm tired of witnessing walkers/bikers get hit or almost get hit by vehicles.

I support the goals of the Paris Climate Accord and don't want to see increased congestion/pollution. However, immediate human safety is my foremost concern. It is also the primary concern of the residents who signed the petition asking the city for assistance.

I believe in evidence-based decisions. We can evaluate the data specific to our neighborhood at the end of the summer to see if the stop signs are meeting their intended goal. Anecdotally, things have improved in our neighborhood. People are driving slower, stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks and I haven't seen any accidents. Dakota Avenue still experiences people driving at unsafe speeds and I'm not sure what will fix that.

A dynamic neighborhood such as ours requires a dynamic response. It's great to see the city respond to the neighborhood's concerns with a swift response recognizing the problems faced.

In addition to stop signs, at least two radar signs were placed and I appreciate the added patrols by the Whitefish Police Department. These things matter and they help.

I look forward to making improvements and adjustments as indicated. We can use data from other places to guide our decisions. But we shouldn't allow it to prevent us from trying something new or doing what works for our Whitefish neighborhood.

James Cannava, Whitefish