Airdrie drivers balk at 'confusing' stop sign in 'really bad spot'

Drivers in Airdrie, Alta., say it's time to remove a confusing stop sign that's become a daily annoyance for many and the source of a big financial hit for some in the form of traffic tickets.

Frustrated residents in the small city just north of Calgary are now backing a petition started by one of the sign's many victims.

"It's always been that thing that somebody should take care of until I got a ticket a month ago and then it became something that I need to take care of," said Marcus Elford, the man behind the petition to have the sign moved or removed altogether.

"Somebody's going to get hurt. Change it to something that makes sense," said Elford. 

For the past year, motorists leaving the Save on Foods parking lot at the new Cooper's Town Promenade mall accessing 40th Avenue have to stop at a sidewalk crossing only to stop again a couple metres beyond that when the road comes into full view — and then encounter a stop sign just ahead of them as they finally join 40th Avenue.

The sign stands on its own where the road merges into two lanes of traffic, but many drivers make their stops before reaching it and don't want to stop a second or third time. Some who want to move immediately to the outer lane don't think the sign applies to them. 

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The motorists who do stop say they risk being rear-ended by people behind them. The majority of drivers routinely ignore the sign and drive right through.

Elford says his ticket was issued by Airdrie RCMP for failing to stop at the sign. The penalty was a $388 fine and three demerit points.  

"The sign shouldn't be here," said Elford, who is in the process of challenging his ticket.

The target for his petition was originally 500 signatures, but that was quickly surpassed, rising to 1,332 people who have signed the petition to date.

"I'm amazed at the response from my Facebook post and petition," Elford said, discovering lots of others share his frustrations.

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"Comments from people include things like, 'I walk down the sidewalk beside the sign and almost get hit,' 'I'm scared every time I go there,' to 'I stop there and almost get rear-ended because nobody else stops there,'" said Elford.

It doesn't take long to find people at the mall who want to talk about it. 

"No," said Greg Hancock when asked if the sign makes sense to him.

"I think the way the planner laid it out was a mistake. It's a pain in the neck," said Hancock. 

Hancock and others say a yield sign would make way more sense.

"It's really confusing. I go through the crosswalk and then there's a stop sign after the crosswalk, so do I stop before, after, in the middle of the road?" said Jordan Fancy.

"It's in a really bad spot. It's a poor design and they should move it further back or put a yield sign there to replace it. It's going to cause more and more problems and lead to ticket after ticket and cause more frustration," said Fancy.

"It's going to get out of hand," he said.

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"I think it's silly, they don't need a stop sign there," said another driver through his open window as he drove by.

Elford says he's back in court this week as he continues to fight his ticket.

He has submitted a request to the City of Airdrie asking it to take another look at the sign's placement.

He says he's been told the city will be meeting this month to discuss the issue.

Lorne Stevens, director of community infrastructure for the City of Airdrie, says it's on their radar.

"The city has a traffic advisory committee and what our intention is is to gather all of the different perspectives and look at that at our next meeting," said Stevens, who says Airdrie RCMP, municipal enforcement and city engineering departments will take part.

Stevens say they'll look to see if there are sufficient grounds to make changes but don't want to make a knee-jerk decision.

"We need to make sure we're not creating one issue by addressing another," he said.

Stevens says the city hadn't received any significant public feedback before the petition came to their attention.