Midtown Greenway and 5th Avenue: An Accident Waiting to Happen


New Stop Signs.

This weekend we took a spin to see the new interchange on the Midtown Greenway.  It isn’t really new, but instead is a re-design of the Greenway and 5th Ave intersection.

We went to visit and photograph the area yesterday and after spending about 5 minutes checking it out, we think that it has the potential to be dangerous for a while.

The Intersection;

As you might remember there used to be stop signs for trail riders on the Greenway and no stop signs for 5th Ave, now that has switched.  Generally speaking we are in favor of any reduction in stops along the Greenway, after all, momentum is our best friend. However, after spending approximately 5 minutes in the area,  we saw 4 different cars completely blow through the 5th Ave. stop signs without so much as a pause.  The first of the four cars (black car pictured below) was just blatant in running the sign.  There were heading South on 5th Ave and coming from that direction the stop sign stares you in the face all the way down the street.

The other three cars were headed North on 5th and this is where we see the bigger problem.  They were all making a left turn onto 5th Ave from 29th Street and this requires a shallow left turn (see the map below).  If we had only witnessed one car do this, we would chalk it up to impolite driving but after seeing it happen three different times we began to wonder if there was something else going on.

Reasons;

After some thought we arrived at two potential conclusions;

1) The stop sign is too hard to see coming from 29th Street.  As we mentioned it is a bit of a shallow turn here, and the Greenway is running parallel and just a few feet North.  It is entirely possible that people making that left onto 5th are either unable to see the stop sign, or believe that it is not for them.  The signs are close enough together that a person turning might not be able to clear the full intersection before having to stop again.

2) People on this road are not used to seeing the stop signs and therefore are just blowing through them due to habit.

Conclusion;

Whatever the reason for it, one thing was clear to us, cars are not stopping at the new stop signs on 5th Ave.  While cars were not required to stop, cyclists were more aware of the area and at could see the stop signs in the Greenway.  With the assumption that cars will stop cyclists will be less likely to slow down and check both ways as they approach the intersection.  We believe the most dangerous situation will be when cars turn left from 29th and a cyclist is heading east.  There is the very real possibility that neither the car nor the cyclist will see one another and this could result in a bad outcome.

We don’t know what the solution is, perhaps a different placement of the stop sign is in order, or perhaps this will resolve itself once drivers get used to the stop signs and cyclists riding through.  Until one of those things happen we suggest that you continue to approach this intersection like the cross traffic on 5th Ave will not stop.

Be safe.

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3 Responses to Midtown Greenway and 5th Avenue: An Accident Waiting to Happen

  1. Jay says:

    It will take time. I don’t know if traffic designers realize it, but there’s a collective memory of how things use to be. Once I saw a T intersection open up a new road so it was a full 4 way intersection, and many people would blow past as if the new 4th street didn’t even exist. It took over a year before I stopped seeing this.

  2. Pingback: Midtown Greenway and 5th Avenue Intersection « VeloTraffic

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