Friday, October 31, 2008

Central Ave. Challenge

Due to some concerns about cycling amongst the combination of bulbouts and cars, Neale and I will be riding Central after work to see if we have problems with traffic. I will report any negatives here. Neale has a blog just for commuting issues.

Last two nights were completely uneventful.

My closest call in the last week was actually on the section of Central between the Catholic church and the Aquatic Center, where a bike lane exists. An ancient motorist in an SUV was weaving in and out of the bikelane and I had to dodge her.

Feel free to add any relevant comments here.


Khal said...

Two comments. One from me. Another uneventful night.

Second from long time resident and bicycle committee member Peter O'Rourke, with permission. Note the overtaking dist. is five feet,not four. Otherwise:

Hi Khal,

Janie tells me that there are a couple loud voices complaining that the bulb-outs on Central Ave. are unsafe for bicyclists. This email is to add an additional reason, to the many that you and others have already given, why this claim is wrong.

It appears to me that at their narrowest points, the bulb-outs reduce traffic lane widths to 12 feet - a standard lane width. The current County ordinance requiring cars to leave 4 feet of space between themselves and bicyclists when passing bicyclists, was adopted many
years ago based on this 12-foot lane. A typical 5-6 foot wide car,if it moves as far to the left of the lane as is practicable, will pass 4 feet away from a bicyclist who is riding as far to the right side of the lane as is practicable. Therefore, this rule can still be enforced through the bulb-outs.

I can see why some bicyclists might feel subjectively that the bulb- outs introduce some increased risk for riding on the road. One of the ideas of the landscaped bulb-outs is that motorists, seeing the narrower lane widths and trees, will feel subjectively that it is unsafe to travel faster than the speed limit and will slow down.

Similarly, some bicyclists, seeing these narrower lane widths, will
feel subjectively that they are being forced too close to cars in
their lane.

I have ridden quite a bit through the current bulb-outs on Central,
however, and have had no problem with cars sharing the lanes with
me. In fact, as you and others have pointed out, the bulb-outs seem to promote a feeling on the part of most motorists that this is a facility where bicyclists and pedestrians belong among the user-mix.

Peter O'Rourke

Anonymous said...

Not specifically about Central avenue,
but a problem nonetheless:

I was out for a run last Thursday evening
(or was it Wednesday, can't remember) and was running on the sidewalk towards Diamond drive on North road. It was after dark and there are no lights there, so it really was quite dark.

All of a sudden I hear "Watch out!" as a bicyclist comes riding towards me *on the sidewalk* going full speed. I couldn't even see him until well after he yelled because he didn't have any lights and he was wearing dark clothing. We finally met up probably 75meters from Diamond or so.

Now someone tell me please...what exactly are the bike lanes on North road for, if not for bicyclists?

What are the sidewalks for on North road for, if not for the pedestrians?

Sign me,

Rather pissed off at idiot bicyclists right now, in spite of the fact that I ride regularly myself.

Khal said...

I saw three "idiot bicyclists" riding from LANL tonight, in the dark, on sidewalks, none of them with lights. Pedestrians be damned.

Sorry about that, anon. I share your frustration. Nothing that expensive about a headlight, is there? Or, for that matter, nothing so tough about using a bike lane.

Amy said...

I took the bus today, but just wanted to add that I saw one commuter on her bike looking pretty cheerful as she made her way down Central. In the road.

I also saw one guy on the sidewalk going against traffic near the Pueblo Complex. I'm hoping that when the construction is done, we won't be seeing this same guy doing the same thing in the bike lane.

Khal said...

Wrong way riders were a constant hazard to other cyclists in Honolulu, on streets with bike lanes. I suspect it will be an issue here, too, esp. with people coming off the bridge sidewalk and going down the wrong side of the road. We have to get people on the proper side, as Neale has commented.

Greg Kendall said...

The Bump outs are great. Folks just need to get used to them. I remember when I first moved here, I thought the bump-out area was hard to ride. It just is not true. It was a mental problem learning to deal with it. I feel much safer now realizing the traffic is way slower so I can ride more like a car and take more of the lane.

I want to see bump out installed near the library and the movie theater. It will make my end of central a lot better.

Khal said...

There was a suggestion last night at the T-Board meeting (thank you, Mario and Neale for showing up to comment) to put sharrows on Central. What do folks think?

Neale said...

I'm the sharrow champion.

I think sharrows will be a good thing to pursue once they've been moved out of experimental status and into the MUTCD. That should be happening within the next few years, I think. Until then, we'd have to get a federal exemption to paint them, and quite frankly I don't have the energy for that battle. So I'm waiting patiently. Until the new manual is issued, the best we could do is a "share the road" sign, which IMHO is pretty useless.

If someone else is interested in pressing for sharrows before they're included in the MUTCD, I'd be happy to assist you.

Anonymous said...

English please. What's a sharrow and what is MUTCD?

Khal said...

MUTCD= Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, i.e., the traffic engineer's bible


Anonymous said...

Looks like just a fancy word for bike lane.

Amy said...

On that sharrows page that Khal posted, this is a quote from someone describing the difference between sharrows and bike lanes - sums it up to me. You can see sharrows on roads leading into the plaza in SF, btw.

"It lets motorists know that bikes also have the right to share the road. It helps accomodate bicyclists when there isn’t enough right of way space to accomodate the acceptable design of bike lanes, which could cause liability to DOTs."

That about right, Khal and Neale?

Khal said...

Sharrow means use the whole lane. Completely different from a bike lane.