I've argued against stop signs as traffic calming from what I'll call the random-compliance angle. If you put up stop signs where there is no right-of-way conflict to manage:
- Pedestrians will rely on the stop signs and expect that traffic will stop.
- Some motorists will recognize the stop signs as unnecessary and will not stop.
The combination of reliance by one party and non-compliance by another party has the potential for injury or worse.
But, there's another angle. Let's call it the excess-compliance angle.
The purpose of traffic calming is to slow traffic, not stop it. (This is not the case on our busier streets and intersections.) Sufficiently slowed traffic has time to stop for pedestrians. Pedestrians have enough time to react to traffic. Motorists are better able to stop for crosswalks, making crosswalks more useful for pedestrians. Slowing traffic reduces the severity of injury and the risk of death.
Our neighborhoods don't need to stop traffic flow to enjoy these benefits. Pedestrian traffic, while it should be a priority, is rarely as heavy as car traffic. (Not that we wouldn't like it to be!) Outside of school time, crosswalk crossings are especially infrequent.
It's unreasonable to bring every car to a full stop just so we can make conditions ideal for those occasions when there is a pedestrian.
The point of traffic calming is to balance traffic flow with pedestrian safety, convenience, and comfort. Appropriate traffic calming measures allow traffic to flow at a reasonable pace ... except when there is a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Stop signs stop the flow of traffic all the time, regardless of actual need to stop.
Which brings us back to the random-compliance problem. Non-compliance stems from the motorist's intuitive—and correct—understanding that a stop-sign is not needed to resolve a right-of-way conflict and that it is overkill to address pedestrian issues.
Why stop traffic when you don't have to?