Miniature stop signs confused for the real thing at pedestrian, bicycle crossings

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Newly-installed stop signs along shared-use paths are causing confusion for some drivers in parts of New Port Richey, Florida.

The signs are smaller than regular stop signs and are intended to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe at crosswalks. But they're causing some well-meaning drivers to hit the brakes.

A standard stop sign is 30 inches by 30 inches. The pedestrian and bicyclist path stop signs are 18 inches by 18 inches, but they otherwise look exactly like a normal stop sign.

"I realized what they were," said Jim Mitchell, who lives along Madison Street.

A month after the signs have been installed, Mitchell says what has yet to stop is the daily screech of tires.

"It's major confusion. It's every day, every night, constant horn blowing, constant yelling," Mitchell said.

FOX 13 watched from the side of the road as one driver after another slowed down, even slammed their brakes, mistaking the small stop sign for their road sign. Some frustrated drivers even drove around the stopped vehicles. 

"People don't know," Mitchell said. "Some drivers do but a lot don't. And, eventually, there's going to be a fight or worse."

The Department of Transportation-regulated signs can also be seen along roads like Marine Parkway and Massachusetts Avenue. New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart said it's going to be a learning process for drivers.

"Once people realize it is just for the sidewalk, then we don't seem to be having that problem," Bogart said.

Tuesday, the police department explained on Facebook, "You may have noticed some new miniature pedestrian signs located throughout the city. Utilizing these preventative measures has been shown to reduce pedestrian crashes and injuries. However, these signs are for pedestrian sidewalk traffic, not vehicle traffic on roadways - so please do not stop your vehicles on the roadway for these pedestrian signs."

Drivers were quick to chime in under the post saying, "I think the signs should be changed. I was behind a car that stopped at every single one the other day. It’s eventually going to cause an accident."

Another wrote, "I almost got rear-ended the other day because the person in front of me stopped hard because of these signs."

And another said, "I can't STAND when people stop at these! They're clearly HALF THE SIZE of a regular stop sign and not even close to the road. Come on, guys. Pay attention!"

Chief Bogart believes, with time, drivers will see the difference and hopes those using the paths take the warning seriously.

"It's not a suggestion. It is a stop sign," Bogart said. "So, we're asking people to really pay attention to it. We don't want to see someone hurt."

As for Mitchell, he'd like to see them go.

"It's a major problem," Mitchell said, "and, it's not just here, it's all the way up Madison." 

Chief Bogart said the long-term goal with these signs is to connect shared use paths with others throughout the county and beyond, making it safer for those on foot or bicycle to get around.