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City of Madison

Traffic Engineering - Yang Tao, Interim City Traffic Engineer & Parking Utility Manager


"This corner is really dangerous - Can't you put a stop sign there before someone gets hurt?"

The Traffic Engineering Division receives requests like this from concerned citizens, neighborhood groups and alderpersons. The following information will help you understand how we respond to your concerns.


To fulfill a stop sign request, certain factors need to be considered. These include:

  • Pedestrian, bicycle, and motor vehicle volume.
  • Vehicle Speed
  • Collision History
  • Visibility
  • Special conditions such as hills and curves


We evaluate the data in light of established guidelines for traffic controls. These guidelines are accepted nationwide, and are integrated into City ordinances. Stop signs are installed at an intersection only after a careful engineering survey of the present conditions indicates that their installation is appropriate. Numerous studies have shown that stop signs can lead to an increase in collisions as drivers ignore signs they think are inappropriate. Stop signs may also lead to an increase in fuel consumption, noise pollution, auto emissions, and force traffic onto other streets. Experience has shown that other measures are needed to maintain a safe situation. Parking restrictions, tree or hedge trimming, pavement markings and speed enforcement are often effective in reducing traffic collisions.

Stop signs are intended to assign the right of way at intersections. They do not control speeding. In fact, speed often increases as motorists try to make up for time lost at a stop sign.
Calling the Madison Police Speeding Hotline, or reporting online at Report a Problem, Traffic Enforcement , at 266 - 4624, and utilizing our Neighborhood Speed Watch Program may prove to be more effective in solving a speeding problem.

When used properly, a stop sign can be one of our most valuable and effective traffic control devices. Their use and location regulates safety for motorists, pedestrians and for the community. If you have any questions, requests, or suggestions please contact the Traffic Engineering Division at 266 - 4761.


The City takes its role in traffic safety very seriously. We appreciate the thousands of complaints, requests and suggestions we receive from various sources every year because it helps us develop a safer transportation system. Due to limited resources, we cannot always respond immediately to some of your ideas. This does not mean that we do not value your suggestions or appreciate your concerns. Many transportation situations take considerable time to study and evaluate possible solutions. Quick solutions are often less effective in the long run. Appropriate solutions may cost the taxpayers a large amount of money, and we must prioritize the spending of these funds across the entire City. A potential problem in one part of the City must be weighed against current crashes and injuries in another area. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding...