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The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods: Get a Stop Sign or Crosswalk Put In The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods: Get a Stop Sign or Crosswalk Put In

The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods: Get a Stop Sign or Crosswalk Put In

April 24, 2010

Walkable streets are what make neighborhoods work—this much we know. Of course, not all of us are so lucky as to have them where we live. If a stroll around your block feels like a game of Frogger, heed this advice from Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives, a New York City nonprofit that advocates for walking, biking, and public transit in the city.
Document the problem
Rent a speed gun from a police supply store and measure 100 cars at the trouble spot, comparing their speeds to the posted speed limit. You can also use video to document the problem—and capture your neighbors describing it. 
Make your case to the people who make a difference 
This may be a city council or, in smaller communities, the mayor. Explain the issue, and explain why it’s a problem: Speeding makes auto accidents worse, and small increases in speed can mean the difference between life and death if a pedestrian is hit.
Find allies
You can make your case stronger by bringing in a community group. Your most natural allies are groups involved with children and seniors: schools, churches, neighborhood associations, a local PTA. 
Keep at it
“Be prepared to make a nuisance of yourself,” says Norvell. “You can counter resistance by making it easier to install a speed hump than keep taking your phone calls.”
Use the media
Invite a reporter to come look at the problem with you (make sure you have that speed gun handy) and get them to talk to your neighbors.
Ask around
There may be traffic-calming programs already set up in your area that can help you with funding or expertise. If a local school zone recently got a speed hump put in, find out how they got it and whether you can take the same approach.

Illustration by Trevor Burks.
This article first appeared in The GOOD Guide to Better Neighborhoods. You can read more of the guide here, or you can read more of the GOOD Neighborhoods Issue here.
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