April 17, 2009

Beware the Traffic Cam Trap

Sad but true
On a recent weekend, we took a drive out to "Marvin Braude Mulholland Gateway Park". This park, at the south end of Reseda Blvd., has some great views of the valley, and offers paths and trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. It wasn't nearly as crowded as I would have expected on a Saturday with such pleasant weather, so we easily found a parking spot in the free zone. As it happened, I had forgotten to wear appropriate footwear, so we stuck to the easy paths and didn't stay long.

Imagine my husband's surprise a few days later when he received a traffic ticket in the mail. The notice claimed that we had failed to comply with a stop sign at the park. Normally we respect traffic regulations, and we couldn't even remember seeing a stop sign there, so this seemed very strange. But, sure enough, the videotape (conveniently available online) showed us rolling right through.

The stop sign in question is located several yards from the entrance to the park, at a point where there is no cross traffic, no pedestrian crossing, no gate, and no information booth or ranger station. I suspect that many people, like us, never even notice it, because they are focusing on the park entrance ahead of them (which would be a much more logical place to stop). This sign seems to have no real function other than to generate a little income (at $100 a pop) for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.

This is a cautionary tale. Always keep an eye open for odd traffic signs in the parks, and always assume that Big Brother is watching.

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