Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Omega Bridge crash, Central Avenue bulbouts, and safety

Interesting week it was.

On Monday, there was the long awaited bike vs. car crash at the north end of the bridge. Apparently, a cyclist riding northbound on the bridge sidewalk collided with a MV making a right on red onto Diamond from West Road as both reached the West/Diamond intersection at the same time. The good news is the cyclist suffered only minor injuries. The bicycle, on the other hand, didn't fare too well.

Neale, Scott, and I have long predicted this crash. Rideout crashes are one of the most common bike/MV accidents, as this page by Wayne Pein notes. It is more prudent for cyclists crossing roads in crosswalks to slow to ped speed and make eye contact with motorists in order to avoid this. Obviously, it is also incumbant on motorists to look both ways for peds and cyclists who have the right of way in a marked crosswalk with the WALK light on.

Better yet, ride on the road as a vehicle.

Now, what can we do to keep it from happening again?

I also received a somewhat strident email about the traffic calming on Central. A cyclist said his wife was nearly sideswiped by a motorist who passed into oncoming traffic and then cut back abruptly rather than encroach on an oncoming vehicle. The fault was with the bulbouts. Right? If we had the old wide profile, this would not have happened. Probably it would not have. Then again, the road was narrowed to slow traffic and aid crossing the street. Kinda meant to be the great equalizer.

I'd be tempted to give credibility to this blaming of the new road design except I've had similar experiences with kamakaze motorists doing incredibly stupid things elsewhere such as on NM 4, which is not traffic calmed, and in the Mountain School zone where a driver passed me at speed, less than a foot away, over a double line in a marked, flashing 15 mph zone. He then had to rapidly slow down as he careened towards a crosswalk with kids and crossing guards in it.

I am tempted to say the problem is with impatient, obnoxious drivers more than road design. Its always the fault of the cyclist or the road design, correct? Even when the motorist doesn't wait a seemingly arduous ten seconds till the way is clear and then pass. Yeah, sure. In my opinion, its not just about doing any damn thing you want any more. Its about restoring civility to our community. Unfortunately, it seems to take a blunt instrument such as traffic calming to do that.

If you want to pick this bone, show up on Thursday the 6th of November at 5:30 at the Transportation Board meeting and air your views under the public comment period at 5:30.


Neale said...

Assuming the "onto the sidewalk" stripe can be undone, what do people think about having properly-placed sharrows through Central? I think I'm still in favor of them, because they send a message to everyone that cyclists are supposed to be on the roadway.

Anonymous said...

The easiest way to send the proper message is simply take the lane. I ride in the lane until it's clear to move over. 'Nuff said.

Amy said...

Yeah, I agree with anonymous. That's what I do on Central, and I haven't had a problem yet.

Khal said...

I take the lane, too. A few times I have had to deal with buttheads, but that's what buttheads are for.

I'll pull to the side if it looks like I'm slowing down a whole train. But that has never happened to me on Central.