September 9th , 2013 9:34 am Leave a comment

Attempt to put the brakes on speeding puts the brakes on, period

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New signs intended to make downtown Elizabethton safer are bringing some motorists to a stop.Photo by Brandon Hicks

And a stop.

And a stop.

Ten new signs telling motorists it’s state law to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks were installed in the 400-700 blocks of East Elk Avenue Thursday morning. The signs are set up in between the lanes of traffic at each of the crosswalks in downtown.

And the signs had an immediate impact – for many, a confusing impact.

Apparently thinking the signs were new stop signs, many motorists were stopping at each sign along East Elk Avenue.

“The signs are not perfect but if drivers are going the speed limit then it is not a problem,” City Manager Jerome Kitchens said. “The first time someone approaches the sign it does appear to be a stop sign. They are there to remind drivers to yield to pedestrians. They are there for pedestrian safety. Drivers only have to stop if there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

Kitchens said the signs were the first step chosen by a committee made of city administrators and downtown business owners to attempt to slow traffic through downtown for pedestrian safety.

“The Downtown Business Association asked us to monitor the traffic through downtown, and we found that 70 percent of the motorists coming through were speeding,” Kitchens said. “Not everyone was going tremendously over the speed limit, but they were still speeding. This combined with a couple of incidents in Johnson City and Bristol where pedestrians were hit trying to cross a city street raised concerns about pedestrian safety.”

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