Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Phase II Bike Lanes liveth, sort of

Well, its nice to have the Diamond Drive "phase two" section of bike lanes finished...sort of. I say "sort of" because until the actual construction is completely finished, barrels removed, and the lanes swept of all the gravel and grunge, they are still a tad lousy to ride in. Also, some of the pavement appears to have been hammered by heavy equipment.

Patience is a virtue, I guess.

But there is a down side. During the worst of the construction, I found that it was much more fun and peaceful to ride around through the back roads on my way to and from work. Added a little over a mile and considerably more climbing each way. After a few months of this, I found I was climbing Arizona in a bigger gear.

Well, with Conoco Hill no longer a chore, I'm back to the main road. Its just too easy (read lazy) to spend an extra ten or fifteen minutes checking email and drinking coffee in the morning. I guess there goes all that extra training...back to big cogs...darn.

As far as the current striping at the Conoco Hill Intersection. Some questions have arisen as to whether the striping was done "correctly", i.e. should the bike lane end, become dashed, or be solid striped right to the intersection. According to Jill Carothers, this is not the final striping and when the final top coat of pavement is added next year (when it gets warm out), the lane will be re-marked and stenciled along with the Phase III work. See below for details.

Meanwhile, on riding in this morning, I noticed that the car lanes have a stop line about six feet shy of the ped line, while the bike lane is not striped with a stop line before the ped line. That actually works in our favor, because it allows a cyclist to get an advanced position ahead of a motorist stopped prior to making a right on red. I would advise cyclists approaching the light on a red light to take an aggressive position to the leftmost part of the bike lane and stop right at the ped line. That makes you visible and gives you a ROW jump.

As far as potential right hooks? Yeah, I am worried. I think we will need to be vigilant and watch to see how the situation develops.

I'll make a further comment here as a cyclist, as well as an LCI. Its hard for me to see exactly where the bike lane ends as I ride south off of Conoco Hill and into the left curve by the First Baptist Church. Having the last segment dashed and maybe add an arrow pointing left would help me (and presumably others) figure out that The End (of the bike lane) Is Near, and I can start signalling my lane change before I run out of lane and risk freaking out motorists. I try to key in on that driveway into the other church, just past the Conoco station, and use that as a visual cue to merge left.

I do plan on posting a before and after picture of one location that always gave me the creeps. Will do that as soon as the barrels are gone.

Now, here is Jill's email, with a minor editorial addition via yours truly. A final, "official" copy will go out from Jill to the LA Monitor. I'll re-edit this post when that comes out and put the final copy in here, too.

Khal & Neale,

I just talked to Rey, Kyle, and Alipio Mondragon, Traffic Division Manager, and they confirmed that the bike lanes throughout the entire project are/will be official bike lanes.

Phase II bike lanes do not have the dashes leading up to intersections or bike symbols yet because there is still another layer of road surface (Open Graded Friction Course, OGFC) to be applied to the entire phase; however, the current lane marking and posted signs do meet all traffic regulations.

OGFC is the top mat that will help even out the driving surface, make the drive smooth and quiet, etc... The two layers that have been placed are completely functional and structurally sound; the OGFC layer will just make the drive nicer. The decision was made to wait until next spring/early summer to place this final layer due to temperature requirements. If the OGFC were placed in undesirable temperature conditions...i.e. too cold... the material would peel off; loose material and "holes" would be on the roadway, similar to the situation at the San Ildefonso Roundabout this previous year. We have chosen to prevent that scenario.

The permanent bike lane markings and striping will be placed once the OGFC mat has been laid. This work will be included in the Phase III contract for next year.

Hope this answers your questions. Please let me know if you think of anything else.


Jill Carothers
Senior Office Specialist
Public Works Department
Los Alamos County


Amy said...

I guess that that's good to know. I'm still really curious about why the county extended the bike lane on Central going up the hill into town by the Master Gardeners' area. But now that it's ripped up, I guess we'll get to see what they'll do when they're done. I would imagine that the intersection at Oppenheimer (I think it is) and Central would be dangerous. As cars come up Central and want to turn right onto Oppenheimer, they won't want to wait for a cyclist climbing a hill. I wonder if we'll see more overtaking problems there.

Khal said...

Oppenheimer/Central is one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situations. Never should have had the stripes extended.