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The Bloomington City Council barely adopts the Seventh and Dunn three-way stop



Bloomington, Indiana – Despite objections from District 6 Councilmember Stephen Volan, the Bloomington City Council voted 5–4 to approve an amendment creating a three-way stop at the intersection of Seventh Street and Dunn Street. The new three-way stop is located in District 6.

The Karns and Karns Personal Injury and Accidents Law Firm defines a three-way stop as the requirement for all cars approaching a junction to halt completely and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians before continuing.

The director of the engineering department in Bloomington, Andrew Cibor, presented a data analysis that contrasted patterns between Seventh and Dunn Street between January 2019 and February 2023.

Volan contested the change, arguing that it conflicts with the council’s seven-line plan, which calls for an east-west bicycle lane. In order to safeguard cyclists and pedestrians, he recommended installing bollards—short poles that divide walkways from roadways.

“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.”

According to Volan, the other council members were only debating the amendment based on the anecdotes of a small number of individuals, not on the evidence.

Several council members, including Councilmember Susan Sandberg, supported the amendment.

“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.”

According to Sandberg, she talked with a number of pro-amendment residents, including bicycle riders who suggested that the seven-line could use some modification.

“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.”

Kate Rosenbarger, a council member, voiced her reservations about the proposal. She cited evidence from conference documents that indicates the addition of stop signs results in fewer persons adhering to the law.

“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.

Councilmember Jim Sims, who defended Sandberg, widened the gap between anecdotal evidence and statistical analysis.

“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.”

Two other adjustments were also approved by the council with unanimous votes, one of which would allow pedestrians to indicate for a stroll several seconds before cars have the green light. According to a city council letter, this technology is already in use at a number of city intersections with considerable pedestrian traffic, such as Third Street and Indiana Avenue.

The last change to be approved was the approval of the Bloomington Hospital site redevelopment plan’s use of two right-of-ways that had previously been utilized by the former Indiana University Public Hospital. Approval of the two roads’ vacation will enable the construction of pedestrian walkways and street makeover.