Backward sign rubs drivers the wrong way

December 25, 2007

THE PROBLEM -- A parking sign on a dead-end street in Bolton Hill is facing the wrong direction.

THE BACKSTORY -- John Street, west of Lanvale Street, is a little stub of a lane that is confounding both motorists and city parking agents. Is the street one-way or two-way? And when you park, which way should your car face? Drivers complain that they get ticketed for parking against traffic no matter which way they aim their vehicles.

It's confusing for a number of reasons.

You come to John Street by driving up Lanvale from Mount Royal Avenue. You can't turn left onto John because it is a one-way street heading west. Turning right onto John Street puts you on a wide lane that dead-ends at a small park built 20 years ago to prevent through-traffic on the quiet residential street.

The dead-end portion of John Street would appear to be a two-way road. There is no one-way sign, and once you turn around and come back out to Lanvale, you face a stop sign.

But just before the stop sign is a parking sign attached to a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. lamp pole. That sign is turned to face south, so if you are driving toward Lanvale Street, you only see the back of it. If the street were one-way, the parking sign would be appropriately placed.

Residents routinely park with their cars facing the front of the stop sign but the back of the parking sign. They complain that agents ticket them for parking their cars facing against traffic, noting the position of the parking sign.

Last week, Vicki Stanley, one of the city's traffic engineers, visited John Street with Watchdog. She quickly noted that the street is indeed two-way, and that cars parked facing the stop sign are legal.

"I'm sorry people are getting tickets," Stanley said.

Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Transportation, said a work order has been put in to change the sign.

WHO CAN FIX THIS -- Felicia Oliver, chief of the Baltimore Department of Transportation Traffic Division, 410-396-6905. City residents also can call 311 to report problems.

UPDATE

Department of Transportation spokeswoman Adrienne Barnes was working last week with city computer experts to create a link on the department's Web site to a list of parking violations and corresponding fines. A man who got a ticket for a parking infraction had complained the data is not readily available.

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