Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please don't ride behind the Diamond construction barriers

I got an email from County Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman today indicating that cyclists are riding behind the construction barrels:


This morning some of the bicyclists on Diamond Drive were riding on the construction zone side (west side) of the barrels. There is a lot of construction equipment and workers moving around doing the project work. They are not looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the barrels. Please pass the word that bicyclist need to use Arkansas/North Road as an alternate route or take the lane as a vehicle like you did this morning.

Aside from this conduct undoubtedly being illegal and quite dangerous once heavy equipment and workers are in full swing (milling off the pavement will start shortly), taking the lane southbound is relatively easy as it is downslope and I was able to ride with heavy traffic effortlessly as it was moving slowly. Northbound (upslope) cycling in the construction zone traffic is more problematic, but cyclists can use the dedicated left turn bay to turn onto North Road and avoid the whole mess. I plan on turning left on North tonight to go home. I'll post here if I have any trouble.

As an alternative to those who don't want to ride north in "the narrows" or turn left and climb North Road, there is a sidewalk on the South side of Diamond. I would recommend cyclists use North/Arkansas, but suggest to any cyclists who use that sidewalk to please take it slow and respect that pedestrians and other cyclists may be using it for two-way traffic.

There is no real way to eliminate the short term pain of this project. Consider the long term gain, though.

Post comments here if you have them. I will direct Kyle to this page as well. Let's just muddle through this as best and as cheerfully as we can. Everyone is suffering a little bit.


Khal Spencer
County Transportation Board Chair and League Cycling Instructor


Anonymous said...

It would have been nice if the traffic lanes were a tad wider for cyclists. There's no way I'll chance riding in the lane to and from work. It's hard enough riding with traffic, much less blocking angry car drivers who have to go slower because of a cyclist. And I know it's a long-term gain, but North Road? How many cyclists like to climb that road after work? Kyle, obviously, doesn't ride this route very often. The reason I complain is it's summer, cycling season, and also the time that hundreds of students, who often ride bikes, are working at the Lab. The current setup is downright dangerous for cyclists.

Khal said...

I wondered about widening the RoW, but that would require about four or five feet in ea. direction. Not sure that works with getting this job done.

As I said, southbound is no big deal. I rode in this morning and took the lane. Everything was backed up so I was not slowing anyone down--they were slowing me down.

As far as northbound and using North Road? Its admittedly a large diameter pill to swallow after a miserable day at work, but a cyclist living in Bomb Town has to be willing to deal with hills after work. I guess if someone doesn't have a bike with serious low gears, its a bitch. There is the sidewalk.

The problem is we have a very short construction season and have to use the summer. Phase II didn't even get finished last year. I don't like it either, and forgot to take my asthma med this morning and climbed North Road while wheezing badly. There are no easy solutions, but this is a project long overdue.

Anonymous said...

So this morning around 8:20, I was driving on North Rd, getting ready to turn onto Diamond. Unlike many people at that intersection now that it isn't required, I stopped, or at least slowed down to a near stop. Good thing I did too. At that very moment, along zooms a cyclist driving on Diamond drive.

He was riding very fast, and behind the cones (i.e. on my side) as he zoomed into the lane I was about to enter as I attempted to turn right. This means he had already cruised through one traffic lane (fortunately empty at the time) that is meant to handle traffic turning left onto Diamond from North road. He also decided that it was a good time to move from the left side of the lane to the right, presumably anticipating his
desire to be next to the curb once the traffic emptied out into the normal street area going south.

This idiot very nearly plastered himself all over my left front fender as he did all that. Had I been traveling at any real speed, it was quite possible in my mind to have knocked him back across the cones and into the heavy traffic on the other side.

Seems that if the traffic cones had tethers to tie them all together, it wouldn't be possible for this sort of thing to happen, and cyclists would be a lot safer overall.

Any likelihood of seeing this happen?

Khal said...

I've never seen cones tethered together and suspect it may be either a matter of cost or of construction workers or equipment having to move past the cones from time to time. It may be a tripping and falling consideration. I don't know. But foolish cyclists competing for the Darwin Award are probably not the only consideration.

I forwarded your comment to Chief Torpy, as this is also an enforcement matter. It is illegal to operate behind construction zone barriers. Such riding could result in a cyclist hitting a worker or being clotheslined by a turning equipment boom. I suspect there are stiff fines for deliberately operating a vehicle unsafely in a construction zone.

I've ridden southbound in the lane with no problems, including yesterday at about 7:45. Its not a big deal to stay where one belongs and merge properly.

On a different topic, my wife, who works in Pueblo complex, commented that traffic is moving too fast for turning and crossing. She uses the bus most days but on Thursday drove in order to take care of a bunch of errands.

Personally, I would prefer a 25 mph construction zone speed limit, but I'm not a professional at this stuff so that is an opinion not based on training. 35 mph means that if someone makes a mistake, a lot of speed will be burned off as bad stuff happens--twice the kinetic energy as at 25 mph.

What do others think?

Anonymous said...

I rode into work south on Diamond earlier this week. I was on my road bike and still there 10 cars behind me. This is scary, as I can't ride nearly as fast as they want to go and I know some people get irritated with cyclists. When I stopped at Sycamore to let them all pass, one of them gunned it. I'm guessing riding on Diamond either way now is a scary proposition for most, so I can see why someone would go behind the cones where it is "safer" away from traffic.

On another note, I noticed they've taken down some nice trees along the west side. I thought I was for this project. Because of future bike lanes I was for it, too, but now (just like Diamond by the golf course), people will use it as an opportunity to drive faster, when what we need is people driving slower.

Khal said...

The way I look at it, I am traffic too and offer no apologies and furthermore I am going to work. I can usually do 20-25 mph without too much exertion and that is what I can do. The traffic can wait. Its not that long a stretch. Maybe less than a minute? If it were a couple miles or more I would do something else.

The bigger speed mismatch is headed home. That's why I have been turning left at North Road to come home (northbound) at night. Headed north uphill, I realize I am a real slug compared to a car so I take an alternate route rather than be a pain in the ass to motorists. I saw two cyclists pedaling northbound up the sidewalk last night. That is an option, too.

But the bottom line is that a cyclist is traffic, not impeding traffic (e.g., Selz vs. Trotwood, OH). One should certainly try to accommodate, but I don't feel like I should be making apologies to anyone.

Khal said...

I timed it today from end to end going south at about 27 mph and about two minutes.

Chrysanthemama said...

For cyclists on mountain bikes willing to get a bit more sweaty in the morning, and who are riding down town, another option is to ride the service roads south of the golf course to the North and South Pueblo Bench trails (i.e., the Bridges Trail), and up behind the Aquatic Center back to Canyon Rd. While it is quite a hoof (I know for this is how I commuted for 4 years), it is worth it considering the lack of traffic, the beautiful views, and the workout obtained.

The construction pretty much sucks for all of us, whether we're driving, cycling, or walking, but hopefully the end result will be worth it.

I agree with Khalil that cyclists are vehicles during morning traffic, and the traffic shouldn't be moving very fast with that much construction (anyone notice the distinct lack of speed limit info??). Cyclists have every right to inhabit the single lanes as anyone else, and this is a good time to practice kindness and patience.

Khal said...

Those trails are lovely and I highly advise them for those with a good mountain or 'cross bike and an adventurous spirit. But for those of us trekking across the Los Alamos Canyon Bridge to LANL, peaceful coexistence is the rule.