At 58th Street in Rolando, Meade Avenue is less than two blocks long and modestly sloped. But the rolling hills on 58th — coupled with poor visibility and unrestricted right-of-way — are creating danger for residents, who are now in the final stages of getting four-way stop signs at the intersection.
Last week, the local planning group voted unanimously to support the effort after Meade Avenue residents brought in nearly 100 signatures on a petition to the city.
After a brief study, the city’s Traffic Engineering department had put the brakes on the request because the street didn’t score high enough on the city’s point system, according to residents.
“They found that the average speed was really high but there weren’t enough accidents,” said Andrew Johnson, whose family — which includes a newborn — lives near the intersection. Horace Mann Middle School and Iftin Charter School stand at the west end of the block and kids headed there have to cross 58th Street against the fast-moving southbound traffic.
“It’s down a hill and people try to catch air off it,” Johnson said. “It’s right next to the school and there are a lot of kids crossing there.”
After it crosses El Cajon Boulevard and heads south, 58th Street heads dramatically downhill, flattening at the intersection and then into more downhill travel. The segment has a roller coaster feel — and who wants to live next to a roller coaster?
While no pedestrians have been hurt there for as long as anyone can remember, Johnson and many neighbors say it’s just a matter of time. The traffic engineer’s report found the average speed was in the high 30s, well above the 25 mph marked on signs.
City residents can ask the Traffic Engineering department for stop signs and the department rates the intersection with a point system to decide if more controls are necessary. That process sometimes fails residents, because no matter how safe a street measures statistically, watching cars speed past leaves people feeling unsafe.
So the city set up an alternate route to getting stop signs, by rallying the support of neighbors, gathering signatures to petition for such changes. Neighborhoods have gotten their streets outfitted with speed humps and parking can also be modified through the grassroots approach of gathering signatures. The last step in the hyperlocal request is getting a letter of endorsement from the area planning group.
Most planning groups are thrilled by such efforts, both for the chance to support people who’ve made the effort to serve the neighborhood as much as they have, and because it tells them the group’s work is valuable.
“We’re just looking to make the area safer,” Johnson said. “The people who signed live really close to the intersection, including people from the corner houses.”
Johnson said he took the quest for a better controlled intersection to Nextdoor.com, a hyperlocal website.
“I wrote it up on Nextdoor and set up a table and waited for people to show up and no one did,” he said. “I see more responses on there for a lost cat.”
But on his block, and the other short block of Meade east of 58th, support for the signs stopping north-south traffic is strong, he said.
“Everybody I talked to supported it — the only person who didn’t said people are just going to run the stop sign anyway,” Johnson said. “Who doesn’t want a place that’s safer to walk across the street?”
The planning group will now send a letter with a copy of the petition to the city for final approval and to begin scheduling the installation.