As the popular 1960s song states - and has become relevant when it comes to new traffic patterns in downtown Buckhannon -everybody needs stop, look around and see what's going down.
New four-way stop signs have been placed at the intersections of Main and Florida streets and Main and Spring streets as part of a state transportation study for improving traffic flow in the downtown area. But residents have complained that everybody isn't exactly stopping and looking around before proceeding through the intersection.
"I have heard stories of pedestrians nearly getting hit by cars, but I haven't witnessed any of that," Buckhannon Police Chief Matt Gregory said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by John Wickline
Motorists approach a four-way stop at the intersection of Main and Florida streets in Buckhannon. The new traffic signal replaced the stoplights in September, and police officers will be ticketing those who do not come to a complete stop and those who do not yield the right of way to pedestrians.
Because of the change in traffic patterns and the anecdotal stories, the police department has been stepping up its traffic enforcement in the area.
Gregory said less than 10 citations have been issued for failing to stop or failing to yield to pedestrians. One minor accident was reported on the first day of the traffic pattern change.
"The change is something we need to get used to," he said. "Those lights were there for years and years and years. It has helped with the traffic flow."
Gregory said drivers must come to a complete stop at those intersections and always yield to those attempting to cross the street because pedestrians, according to state law, always have the right of way.
"If no pedestrians are present, the first vehicle to come to a complete stop has the right of way to proceed," the police chief said. "If there are no pedestrians present and all vehicles came to the intersection at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right of way."
Gregory said there have been a few complaints at the intersection in front of City Hall because of the left turn lane. He said drivers have expressed their confusion as to who has the right of way when drivers are wanting to turn left, while others are wanting to continue through the intersection. Gregory said some drivers have said they cannot see a second car because of the car in the turn lane blocking their view.
Kevin Hoover told the Buckhannon City Council at a recent meeting that he appreciates the efforts in improving traveling on Main Street, adding he thinks the pedestrian issues will improve once people become accustomed to the change.
"It's going to take a little time for people to get used to it," he said. "During June when the storms took out power and we were a week without red lights, the traffic flowed in this town as good or better than it ever has. There were many people running around town trying to get gas, ice, food, whatever."
Mayor Kenneth Davidson said if that same type of attitude were applied to the current situation, he believes things will improve.
"A little bit of courtesy would go so far," he said. "People (need) to be just a little bit more courteous and respectful of pedestrians."
Gregory said there are other four-way stops at intersections scattered throughout Buckhannon, and traffic proceeds through those areas without problems. He said that should soon be the case in the downtown area.
"That is our hope," he said.
The traffic flow study is expected to conclude in the early spring.
Contact John Wickline by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.