The Bloomington City Council voted 5-4 to pass an amendment that establishes a three-way stop at the intersection of Seventh Street and Dunn Street, despite concerns voiced by Councilmember Stephen Volan, who represents District 6. District 6 is the location of the new three-way stop.
According to the Karns and Karns Personal Injury and Accidents Law Firm, three way-stop is when vehicles on three or all approaches of an intersection must come to a complete stop and give right-of-way to pedestrians before proceeding through.
Andrew Cibor, director of the Bloomington engineering department, shared a data report comparing trends from January 2019 and February 2023 at Seventh and Dunn Street.
Volan challenged the amendment and claimed that it undermines the council’s seven-line project, an east-to-west bicycle lane. He suggested adding bollards to the proposed intersection, which are short poles separating sidewalks from roads to protect bikers and pedestrians.
“We have an easy remedy,” Volan said. “Bollards. We’ll put up bollards, and we’ll close off the cross streets at Lincoln, Washington and Grant in the same way that we closed off Kirkwood for the sake of putting restaurants outside.”
Volan claimed that other council members were only considering the amendment due to anecdotes from a few civilians, and not facts.
The amendment garnered support from several councilmembers, including Councilmember Susan Sandberg.
“I must take some offense to the insinuation that all I’m going by is anecdote,” Sandberg said. “Just because there weren’t people in chambers expressing their support for this amendment doesn’t mean they don’t exist.”
Sandberg said that she met with several citizens in support of the amendment, including people that ride bicycles, who claimed that improvements could be made on the seven-line.
“I’ve seen a lot of negativity, and all I’m trying to do with this particular vote is restore some common courtesy,” Sandberg said. “We can all take our turns at a four-way stop. There is no harm in that. No harm, no foul.”
Councilmember Kate Rosenbarger expressed her concerns with the proposed amendment. She referred to data that shows adding stop signs lead to fewer people following the laws, which was included in meeting documents.
“I think something that really scares me about this is that if a bicyclist or a pedestrian is trying to cross the road and expecting that someone is going to stop, and that person doesn’t stop most likely that person walking or biking is killed by a person driving a car,” Rosenbarger said.
The divide between anecdote and data was amplified by Councilmember Jim Sims, who came to the defense of Sandberg.
“From what I gather from her speech, the feelings of people who contact her are more important than anything else,” Sims said. “She’s prioritizing the anecdotes of the people who are concerned.”
The council also unanimously passed two other amendments, including an amendment that will give pedestrians a walk signal several seconds before vehicles are given a green light. Several city intersections already use this technology in intersections with high pedestrian activity, including Third Street and Indiana Avenue, according to the city council memorandum.
The final amendment passed was the approval of the vacation of two right-of-ways that were previously used by the former Indiana University Public Hospital for the Bloomington Hospital site redevelopment plan. The approval of the vacation of the two roads will allow for the development of pedestrian walkways and a redesigned street.