'No stopping' sign on Charles Street lists wrong hours

December 25, 2010

The problem: A "no stopping" sign on North Charles Street lists incorrect hours when cars aren't allowed to stop.

The backstory: Motorists new to Baltimore sometimes have an expensive lesson to learn.

On some major roadways, cars are not permitted to stop during certain hours. Sometimes the prohibition falls during the morning rush, and sometimes it happens in the evening.

If cars are parked in these zones during the forbidden hours, they may be towed to permit a smoother flow of traffic during peak hours.

However, Janice Guikema noticed an inconsistency in the hours posted on one sign in the 4600 block of N. Charles St., just south of the entrance to the Fitness Aquatic Center of Loyola University Maryland.

Most of the signs bar parking in the southbound lanes from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. But one sign just south of that traffic light listed the hours as 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Guikema occasionally takes Charles Street from her home in Timonium to her job as a researcher in the physics department at Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus. One day about two months ago, she was forced to move out of the right lane and merge into the left just after 9 a.m. by a parked car.

She looked up at the sign "to confirm they were in the wrong and was surprised to see no, actually they were in the right," Guikema said.

"I was like, that just kind of interrupts the whole right lane," she said. "Even if there's just one car, then everybody has to move over to the left."

Guikema e-mailed Watchog, who contacted Adrienne Barnes, a spokeswoman for Baltimore's transportation department. She agreed it was an error.

All the no stopping signs should indicate 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., she confirmed. The wrong sign was to be removed on Monday, and the replacement would be installed within 30 days, Barnes said.

Traffic engineers set the no-stopping hours based on the traffic volumes, she said.

"We want to keep those lanes open to have traffic move as quickly and as safely as possible," Barnes said.

Who can fix this: Randall Scott, the Transportation Department's traffic division chief, 443-984-2150. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

— Liz F. Kay

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