Who do I contact to complain about the condition of my neighbor's property?
Complaints about the condition of real property in the City of Rochester should be directed to the Building Safety Department at 507-328-2600.
As a victim, is there someone in the Prosecutor's Office who can answer my questions?
If you have questions about anything associated with your case, you may contact the Victim Witness Liaison at the Rochester City Attorney's Office at 507-328-2113.
How do I get a marriage certificate, passport, birth certificate, or driver's license renewal?
Please contact Olmsted County Property, Records, & Licensing for questions relating to driver's license renewals, marriage certificate, death certificate, or information on obtaining a passport at 507-328-7670 or http://www.co.olmsted.mn.us/prl/Pages/default.aspx.
How do I get a residential parking permit?
To obtain a residential parking permit, please contact the City Clerk's office at 507-328-2900.
How will I know when the offender gets out of jail or prison?
Prior to conviction, a county jail or detention facility must notify a victim of a violent crime of the offender's release. All victims, regardless of the crime, are strongly encouraged to register with VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) program to request automatic release notification. Following conviction, victims of inmates in a county facility must make a request for release notification to that facility and can also register with VINE. Victims of inmates in a Department of Corrections facility must register with the Minnesota CHOICE program for release notification.
I am charged with a petty misdemeanor. Can I apply for a public defender?
A public defender will not be appointed on a petty misdemeanor case. You have the right to hire a private lawyer but do not have a right to a public defender.
I cannot afford to hire a lawyer. What are my options?
You may apply for a public defender. If you qualify financially, a public defender will be appointed (except for a petty misdemeanor level charge.) Some co-payment may be required. You should apply for a public defender as soon as possible, by contacting Olmsted County Court Administration at 507-206-2496 or you may pick up an application on the 5th floor of the Olmsted County Government Center.
I cannot afford to pay a fine. What are my options?
Assuming a guilty plea or conviction, a judge can take into consideration someone's financial circumstances. One option frequently utilized is community work service in place of payment of a fine. Community work service is credited toward a fine at the rate of $10/hour (e.g. $200 fine or 20 hours community work service.) If the resolution involves a conviction there are fees and surcharges (usually $85) that must be paid in cash. There is a minimal fee charged for the community work service program.
Payment plans are also an option. If you are resolving your case directly with the prosecutor you can be given up to four months to pay a fine. If you need a longer period of time a judge would need to approve that request.
I do not have an attorney. Can a lawyer from the City Attorney's office help me?
Attorneys from this office cannot give legal advice to citizens or defendant's calling with legal questions. You have the right to consult with a private attorney or apply for a public defender.
I received a ticket for driving after suspension/revocation/cancellation. My driver's license is now valid. What can I do about my ticket?
Depending on your driving record, the prosecutor may be willing to resolve your case in a manner that does not cause you a new driver's license issue. This resolution would require you to remain law abiding for a period of time along with payment of a fine.
I received a traffic ticket. I'm concerned about my driving record, insurance costs, etc. How can I keep this ticket off of my record? Does the City offer some type of "safe driving class?"
While the City would certainly encourage steps to safer driving, we are not able to offer any type of diversion sentence tied to a "safe driving class". Additionally, absent exceptional circumstances the prosecutor will NOT be able to keep the ticket off of your record.
One exception under the law is for a speeding ticket of 65 mph or less, either in a 60 or a 55 mph zone. Such an offense would NOT be reported to your driving record.
I want to build a fence on my property. Do I need a permit and what are the requirements?
Should you wish to build a privacy fence on your property, please contact the Olmsted County Planning & Zoning Department at 507-328-7100 to obtain the necessary permits and/or information.
I want to talk to a prosecutor about my case. When can I do that?
City arraignment days are scheduled weekly on Tuesday and Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. Two prosecutors are there to discuss your case and attempt to resolve it. Absent exceptional circumstances, anyone wanting to discuss their case with the prosecutor needs to appear at their scheduled arraignment date. If you cannot make your scheduled arraignment, you need to contact District Court at 507-206-2496 and reschedule for another Tuesday or Wednesday.
As a matter of policy, the Prosecutor does not routinely drop charges; therefore, a victim should be certain of his/her actions when pursuing charges. Only the Prosecutor can drop charges against a defendant; however, you should let the Prosecutor's office know if you no longer wish to proceed with the case. While the Prosecutor will take your wishes into consideration, the Prosecutor must also take into consideration the safety of the community and other factors when making a decision to drop charges or proceed with the case.
Who does the City Attorney's office represent?
The City Attorney's office represents the City, its elected officials and staff, City departments and the City's boards, commissions and authorities in civil matters. The attorneys in the office are not allowed to represent private citizens in any type of proceeding. In criminal prosecutions the City Attorney's office represents the State of Minnesota.
Will I be able to meet with the Prosecutor?
Yes, Please contact the Victim Witness Liaison at 507-328-2113 to schedule a meeting.
Will I have to testify?
It depends. Most crime victim cases can be resolved without the need for testifying or going to court. Every case is different. You should consult with the Victim Witness Liaison if you have concerns.
Are churches safe in a tornado?
In a church or theater: Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.
Are mobile homes safe in a tornado?
In a mobile home:Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.
Can I sign-up for Rochester Alert without a computer?
You will need to login to Rochester Alertto create a profile. The best way is to use the browser on your computer. You can also use a mobile phone or tablet to enroll. Go to the enrollment page here to begin.
Can I use the website to receive alerts without adding any contacts?
You can check for alerts at your predefined locations when you log in to the site. Once logged in, the page will filter down to alerts you are signed up for. If no alerts show up that means there are no alerts that you are interested in. You can click the magnifying glass icon and change the filter to “All Alerts” in order to see what is going on outside of your area of interest.
Does a wireless emergency alert (WEA) know where I am? Is it tracking me?
No. WEA messages are broadcast from area cell towers to mobile devices in the area. Every WEA-capable phone within range receives the message. When you are traveling, WEA messages are received from the area you are located, not from your home location.
Does it cost anything to receive emergency alerts?
It is free to receive emergency alerts from the City of Rochester and Olmsted County. The only charge you might receive will come from your cell phone carrier. While most people have unlimited text messages, some plans charge for excessive text messages. You likely will receive one to six texts messages in any one month - less in the winter months.
How do I customize which alerts I receive?
Once logged into the system you can customize alerts by creating custom warning sets from the "My Account" page. These sets will let you set the categories and severity levels of alerts you would like to receive. To do so, find the "Custom Warning Sets" section and click the add button.
Log in and click "My Account" on the upper left side of the page.
How often will I receive WEA messages?
You may get very few WEA messages or you may receive frequent messages when conditions change during an emergency. The number of messages depends on the number of imminent threats to life or property in your area.
How will I receive alerts?
Rochester Alert will send text messages, ring your phone numbers, send emails, and you can add more than one email/cell phone/regular phone. Whenever an alert is sent, it will go to all of your listed numbers or emails.
If a tornado appears when in a open area.
In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
If I can't make or receive calls or text messages, will I still be able to get a WEA message?
Yes. Wireless emergency alert (WEA) messages are not affected by temporary cell network congestion.
If in a car or truck, safe places to be safe are few.
In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway,leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
I'm going on vacation. Can I pause alerts?
Once logged into the system, go to the "My Account" page and select the "Vacation Schedule" section and click the Add button. From here you will be able to set the time range you would like to pause alerts for.
Is my mobile device WEA capable?
Many of the major wireless providers carry WEA-capable devices. To confirm your device is capable of receiving the alerts and are available in your area, please check with your wireless provider. Most smartphones manufactured in 2012 or later have the capability to receive WEA messages.
Is there a best place to be safe in an office?
In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper:Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
Once tornado passes...
Keep your family together and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Carefully render aid to those who are injured. Stay away from power lines and puddles with wires in them; they may still be carrying electricity! Watch your step to avoid broken glass, nails, and other sharp objects. Stay out of any heavily damaged houses or buildings; they could collapse at any time. Do not use matches or lighters, in case of leaking natural gas pipes or fuel tanks nearby. Remain calm and alert, and listen for information and instructions from emergency crews or local officials.
What are actions to take for a warning?
Sirens warn people who are outdoors. Go indoors and find a sturdy shelter. Protect yourself from flying objects. People indoors should listen to radios, TV or Weather Radio warnings to find out the latest information. Check with local emergency management officials to learn about local siren activations.
What are the signs of a tornado?
There is no substitute for staying alert to the sky. Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:
Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
What are Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)?
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are used to send concise, text-like messages to WEA-capable mobile devices during emergency situations.
What does a WEA message look like?
A WEA looks like a short, text message accompanied by a special tone and vibration. The WEA message will show:
Who is sending the alert
What is happening
Who is affected
What action to take
What if I am in a big box store, or at the mall?
In a shopping mall or large store: Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows. Some stores have safety plans. Follow instructions of employees, and move to the area of safety. Don't try to leave the store to outrun the tornado.
What if I am traveling? Do I get a WEA message if I'm visiting an area outside of where I live?
Yes. Wireless Emergency Alerts are geographically targeted. If you travel into a threat area after an alert is first sent, your WEA-capable device will receive the message when you enter the area.
What is a warning? Is it serious?
A warning is the most serious level. For severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flash floods, a warning means the weather event is imminent or occurring somewhere in the defined warning area and that people need to take shelter as soon as possible.
What is a watch?
A watch means weather conditions are favorable for dangerous weather to occur. In other words, a "watch" means watch out for what the weather could do, and be ready to act accordingly. For events that come and go quickly, such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or flash floods, a watch means that the odds are good for the dangerous weather, but it's not yet happening.
What is an advisory?
An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
What is Rochester Alert?
Rochester Alert is a free emergency notification system. Local police, fire, and emergency management will alert you in time of emergency or disaster.
What should be done during a watch?
You may wish to alter or have a back-up plan for any outdoor activities or travel. When a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood watch is in effect, it means you should look for signs of dangerous weather and maintain access to the latest information. Sometimes a severe thunderstorm, tornado or flash flood can happen so quickly that warnings can't be issued in time.
What should I do when I get a WEA message on my smartphone?
Follow any action advised by the message. If needed, seek more details from local media or local public safety authorities.
What type of alerts will I receive?
Presidential Alerts - Issued during a national emergency
AMBER Alerts - Issued for the abduction of a child in your area
Imminent Threat Alerts - Issued for extreme weather or harmful events that threatening life or property in your area
Where is best place in my house?
In a house with a basement: Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you. Head protection, such as a helmet, can offer some protection also.
In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
Where is best place to shelter for tornadoes at school?
At school:Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
Why is this important to me?
Alerts received at the right time can save lives.
Will a WEA message interrupt my phone call?
No. The alert will be delayed until you finish your conversation.
Will I be charged for WEA messages?
No. This service is offered for free and will not count towards texting limits on your wireless plan.
Can a service vehicle park at my home?
Yes. If you have requested service at your home, the service vehicle can park at your home, as long as, the service Vehicle clearly has a Named Logo on the vehicle.
Can I get a permit for a caregiver to take care of a family member at my home?
Yes. The caregiver may purchase Business permit. They will need to show proof of employment and vehicles registration.
Can I get a permit for a roommate?
No. Each resident, if not a spouse our child, needs to apply for their own permit. Each resident must show proof of residency and vehicle registration.
Can I get a permit for my RV or Trailer?
No, by city ordinance any vehicle 1 ton or larger, RV or Trailer can only park on a city street no longer than 1 hour, which means it's not eligible for a permit.
Do I need a physical permit on vehicle?
No. Your license plate number is now registered as your RPP (Residential Parking Permit).
Do visitors coming to my home need a permit?
If a visitor is coming to your home for a one or two day visit. Please call 507-328-2902. You will need to provide vehicle information ( Make, Year, Color and License Plate Number) plus the dates your guest will be visiting.
If a visitor is staying for 7 - 14 days, please come to the City Clerks office and get a Free Temporary Parking Permit.
If a visitor is staying more than 14- 30 days, they must purchase a Temporary Parking Permit for $10. This can be done in person at City Clerks office or online.
How can I get a monthly parking pass for the City parking ramps?
You can sign up for monthly parking by going to the City parking website, under General Information, Monthly Parking. There you will find a phone number to call (507) 282-4545 and a web link for online set up.
How long can I park in a “Passenger Loading Zone”?
This parking is for passenger loading and unloading. The maximum time allowed is 15 minutes. The same rule applies to the Passenger/Commodity Loading Zones that are signed.
How long is my Residential Parking Permit good for?
Your Residential Parking Permit is good for a full year from the day of purchase
How much do Residential Parking Permits cost?
There is a one-time $5 application fee per vehicle for new applications and $20 per year per vehicle Permit fee.
Renewals are $20 per year per vehicle.
How to establish a new parking area?
In order to establish or expand a residential permit parking zone, a person must file with the City Clerk a petition signed by at least 75% of the owners or occupants of property abutting the street described in the proposed zone. Each residential unit and each non-residential facility meeting the eligibility criteria within the proposed zone shall count as one vote in determining if the75% threshold is met. Unoccupied units are excluded from the calculation of the 75% threshold when reasonable efforts to contact the property owner have been unsuccessful. The City Clerk shall refer the petition to the City Engineer. At a council public hearing, the City Engineer shall provide to the Common Council recommendations regarding establishment or expansion of the proposed residential permit parking zone based on the petition’s compliance with the
established criteria. At least 14 days prior to the public hearing, mailed notice of said hearing shall be given to the owners or occupants of property abutting a street proposed to be located in the proposed residential permit parking
zone. Following the hearing, the Common Council may adopt a resolution establishing or expanding the residential parking zone if it determines the petition satisfies the criteria provided in section. Ordinance 138A.02. (3745, 12/19/05)
I got a parking ticket and there were no signs posted.
City Ordinance 134.10 -Prohibited Stops:
No person shall park a vehicle, whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a police officer or traffic control device, in any of the following places:
(1) On a sidewalk or on an improved boulevard between a sidewalk and a roadway;
(2) In front of a public or private driveway or alley or within five feet of the intersection of any public or private driveway or alley with any street;
(3) Within an intersection;
(4) Within ten feet of a fire hydrant located on or near any public street. This distance is measured by taking a direct line to the nearest street and measuring ten feet in either direction. All other fire hydrants will be measured as having a no parking zone within a ten foot circumference of the hydrant itself;
(5) Within ten feet of any curb side mailbox, public or private;
(6) On a crosswalk;
(7) Within 20 feet of a crosswalk at an intersection;
(8) Within 30 feet upon the approach of any flashing school signal, stop sign, traffic control signal, or school sign at the side of a roadway;
(9) Within a designated or marked Bus Stop or taxicab stand;
(10) Within 50 feet of the nearest rail of a railroad crossing;
(11) Within 20 feet of the driveway entrance to any fire station and, on the side of a street opposite the entrance to any fire station, within 75 feet of said entrance when properly sign-posted;
(12) Alongside or opposite any street excavation or obstruction when such stopping, standing, or parking would obstruct traffic;
(13) Upon any bridge or other elevated structure upon a street except the Fourth Street Southeast Bridge over the Zumbro River and the East Center Street Bridge over the Zumbro River;
(14) So as to block a fire escape or the emergency exit from any building;
(15) At any place where temporary signs prohibit parking, stopping or standing as long as such signs are in place;
(16) At any place where official signs or markings prohibit stopping, standing or parking;
(17) On a street or alley when directed or ordered to proceed by any person or police officer invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.
I have a disability and was issued a disability plate or tag for my car. How long can I park at the meters?
Under Rochester City Ordinance, vehicles with a state issued disability plate or tag may:
Park free at any metered space up to 4 hours in 1 hour, 90 minute, 2 hour, and 3 hour metered zones.
Receive a 50% discount when parked in a cashiered municipal ramp as an hourly customer.
I parked in the 3rd Street Ramp and accidentally paid for the wrong parking spot. I received a parking ticket for not paying. Can I have my ticket dismissed?
The 3rd Street Ramp is operated under contract by Lanier Parking. Please contact them 507-282-4545.
I parked in the 3rd Street Ramp overnight and received a “Parking Ticket” from Lanier Parking and then I received a ticket from the City of Rochester Parking Control for not paying for my parking space
Lanier Parking charged you a fee to park in the ramp overnight. The City of Rochester gave you a parking ticket for parking in a space after 8am without paying for it.
I was only in the clinic for a few minutes and when I returned I had a parking ticket. Can I have my ticket dismissed?
If you wish to contest your ticket, please refer to the back of the citation.
Residential Parking Permits are intended to provide relief to neighborhood residents from parked vehicles by a person who has no association with the residents or businesses in the neighborhood. Reference Ordinance # 138A
What documents are needed to purchase a Residential Parking Permit?
You are required to present Proof of Residency and Vehicle Registration in order to apply for a Residential Parking Permit (RPP).
The following are acceptable documents for Proof of Residency:
Valid Drivers License with current address
OR, current electric/phone/cable bill
OR, lease agreement
Vehicle Registration must have:
License Plate Number
Make, Model, Year of Vehicle
What if I have a permit and sell my car?
Contact City Clerks office at 507-328-2900. Vehicle registration will be needed for the new vehicle.
When do I have to pay to park in a metered space?
In the City of Rochester, parking meters are enforced from 8:00 AM-5PM Monday-Friday, with the exception of the following days:
• New Year’s Day (January 1)
• Memorial Day
• Independence Day-July 4
• Labor Day
• Thanksgiving Day
• Christmas Day (December 25)
Where do I report malfunctioning meters?
Call the Rochester City Clerks Office at 507-328-2900.
Who should I contact for questions about my parking citation?
For general questions about your parking ticket, please submit your question through the website. If you wish to contest the citation, please review the back of the citation for instructions on this process. Bring your citation to the 5th Floor of the Olmsted County Government Center on Tuesday or Wednesday (excluding holidays) at 1 p.m. If you have a question regarding court, please call 507-206-2496.
Why are some metered areas posted No Parking for certain times?
The 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. no parking restriction is to allow the street maintenance division to sweep, flush, empty trash cans and remove snow (in the winter months) during off hours. This is to ensure Rochester’s streets are clean for the next day. If you plan on staying downtown after 2 a.m. you are encouraged to park in the City parking ramps.
Regarding the 9 a.m. restriction on 1st Ave SW on Saturdays -it is respect to businesses in the area. Since meters are not enforced on Saturdays many of the on-street spaces fill up with all day employees leaving no curb spaces for customers and visitors. The extended restriction until 9 a.m. past the work start times helps leave some spaces open for customers.
Does somebody have to be killed before a traffic signal will be installed?
Traffic signals don't always prevent accidents. They are not always an asset to traffic control. In some instances, accidents and severe injuries increased after signals were installed. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions were reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type, increased.
There are times when the installation of signals results in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these "barriers."
When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:
1. Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion?
2. Is the traffic on the main street so heavy that drivers on the side street will try to cross when it is unsafe?
3. Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result?
4. Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection? If so, is a traffic signal the best solution?
5. Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily?
6. Does the collision history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of collisions?
7. Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic?
8. Is there a combination of the above conditions which indicates that a signal will be an improvement rather than a detriment?
To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. These guidelines (often called "Warrants") were established from many observations at intersections throughout the country by experienced traffic engineers. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.
A traffic signal that decreases accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all who use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
Examples of construction and sediment control
These are examples of issues with construction sediment control.
Examples of damaged signs
These are examples of damaged and obstructed signs. If the sign is a stop sign then it is considered an emergency. Please call the emergency contact numbers provided on the main service request page.
Examples of illegal dumping in waterways
These are examples of illegal dumping in waterways.
A number of years back, the City of San Diego published some startling results of a very extensive study of the relative safety of marked and unmarked crosswalks. San Diego looked at 400 intersections for five years (without signals or four-way stops) that had a marked crosswalk on one side and an unmarked crosswalk on the other. About two and one half times as many pedestrians used the marked crosswalk, but about six times as many accidents were reported in the marked crosswalks! Long Beach studied pedestrian safety for three years (1972 through 1974) and found eight times as many reported pedestrian accidents at intersections with marked crosswalks than at those without. One explanation of this apparent contradiction of common sense is the false security pedestrians feel at the marked crosswalk. Two painted lines do not provide protection against an oncoming vehicle and the real burden of safety has to be on the pedestrian to be alert and cautious while crossing any street. A pedestrian can stop in less than three feet, while a vehicle traveling at 25 MPH will require 60 feet and at 35 MPH approximately 100 feet.
Pedestrian crosswalk marking is a method of encouraging pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Such marked crossings may not be as safe as an unmarked crossing at the same location. Therefore, crosswalks should be marked only where necessary for the guidance and control of pedestrians, to direct them to the safest potential routes.
When will a lower speed limit be posted on my street?
A common belief is that posting a speed limit will influence drivers to drive at; that speed. The facts indicate otherwise.
Research conducted in many parts of this country over a span of several decades has shown that drivers are influenced more by the appearance of the highway itself and the prevailing traffic conditions than by the posted speed limit.
Minnesota's Basic Speed Law requires that:
"No person shall drive a vehicle on a ·highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so restricted as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care."
In Minnesota, the maximum speed limit in an urban district is 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. An urban district is defined as the territory contiguous to and including any street which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet for a distance of a quarter of a mile or more. Outside urban districts, the maximum speed limit for any passenger vehicle is currently 55 miles per hour. These speeds are not always posted but all Minnesota motorists are required to know these basic 30 and 55 mile per hour speed laws.
Under Minnesota law, intermediate speed limits (except school speed limits) between 30 and 55 miles per hour may be established on any road, including county highways and city streets, only by the State Commissioner of Transportation. The commissioner must establish the speed limit upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation. This investigation includes an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records, and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers. If speed limit signs are posted for a lower limit than is needed to safely meet these conditions, many drivers will simply ignore the signs. At the same time, other drivers will stay within the posted limits. This generally increases the conflicts between faster and slower drivers, reduces the gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely and increases the difficulty for pedestrians to judge the speed of approaching vehicles. Studies have shown that where uniformity of speed is not maintained, accidents generally increase.
Why don't they put in more stop signs?
A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.
One common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop, or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as "nuisances" or "speed breakers," there is a high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.
A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle which had been a problem for 3 seconds while approaching and passing the intersection becomes a problem for a much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection which previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. lt really isn't - it just looks like it. It doesn't even look safer and it usually isn't.
Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.
Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines take into consideration, among other things, the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities.
Why won't they put up "Children at Play" signs
An often heard neighborhood request concerns the posting of generalized warning signs with "SLOW-CHILDREN AT PLAY" or other similar messages. Parental concerns for the safety of children in the street near home, and a misplaced, but wide-spread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.
Although some other states have posted such signs widely in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results.
Because of these serious considerations, Minnesota law does not recognize, and Federal Standards discourage, use of "Children at Play" signs. Specific warnings for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities are available for use where clearly justified.
Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travel ways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.