Traffic lights or stop signs?


Are traffic lights always preferable to stop signs?

It’s not a new debate, and this time it’s a suburb in Brooklyn, New York, that is raising the issue.

It seems cars speed through residential streets in Boerum Hill, and now some locals believe that traffic lights bear a major part of the blame as they encourage drivers to race between streets to make green lights and, by extension, speed up to get through orange lights to make the next green. Stop signs, they say, would be a better, safer alternative. Speed bumps and “slow zones” are being tossed into this one.

I haven’t seen much research data on this — if you know of any let me know — but it would seem that the answer will vary with the situation. Nonetheless, it wouldn’t hurt to have authorities and citizens approach the question of their neighborhood with some studies to help them solve the problem.

The Boerum Hill debate feels like both sides are starting out with nothing except good will and their own experience to get the problem solved. I’m not suggesting a computer-generated answer with minimal public input–far from it. But without some decent data the decision might end up being something of an educated, and experimental, guess.