SOMa Pet Peeve: Illegal Lefthand Turns Into Angled Parking

by The Village Green
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Left hand turn sign Maplewood

It compromises pedestrian safety. It disrupts traffic flows. And it just plain bugs the heck out of some locals.

It’s those illegal lefthand turns in angled parking spaces.

You know the deal: It happens anywhere along Maplewood Avenue in Maplewood Village or in either direction along Sloan Street in South Orange. Motorists frustrated with looking for parking — and perhaps new to town — ignore the prominently posted signs and veer across the oncoming lane of traffic, then back their vehicle in and out of the space a few times to fit between the angled painted lines and neighboring cars.

“I sat at Able today and saw – as usual – at least 4-5 people doing it,” said one coffee-and-scone addicted local resident earlier this month. “It’s rampant and they could enforce it and gain lots of revenue.”

Village President Sheena Collum has seen a number of such incidents on Sloan Street in South Orange Village, and made it clear how she felt about the prohibited turns in a recent Facebook post.

“The very visible signs advising drivers NOT to do this have been posted for years, this is nothing new,” wrote Collum. “Making those illegal turns endangers pedestrians, motorists, and throws off the overall flow of traffic when you need to maneuver three times to get into a parking space.”

Lately it feels like there’s been an increase of such incidents in Maplewood Village — particularly at the bottom of the street where Able Baker and the relocated Post Office have brought new traffic to the area. But Captain Dawn Williams of the Maplewood Police said that, as of early May, only one complaint had been received by the MPD since the beginning of 2016 regarding left turns into parking spaces.

“When an ongoing traffic complaint is received, we first try to obtain as much information as possible,” said Capt. Williams.

Williams noted the the MPD is dependent of the reporting of violations so that the Traffic Bureau can utilize “the information obtained along with additional traffic safety information for the area in question to create an enforcement plan.”

“With regards to the complaint this year, a period of directed enforcement was conducted in which Officers were assigned to specifically monitor for the violation. As a result, numerous details were conducted and several summonses for various violations, including the prohibited turn were issued.”

Williams noted that the current fine for violation of Prohibited Turns is $85.

Collum is certainly pushing for more enforcement in South Orange. In her May 21 Facebook post, she wrote: “As many of you know by now – strict enforcement of pedestrian safety and motor vehicle laws are very(!) important to me. And I am so pleased to have just witnessed South Orange’s finest enforce two illegal left hand turns into angled parking on Sloan Street. Way to go SOPD… I am one happy Village President right now.”

(Editor’s Note: In light of the current construction project the former Maplewood Post Office, the Township of Maplewood and Maplewood Village Alliance have posted an updated parking map and are working to educate motorists about alternative parking options in Maplewood Village. Read more here.)


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