Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1,000 Words Dept: Sign Obstruction Ahead.

Welcome Home and Support Multimodal Transportation. 
By the Way, Please Avoid Our Signs
 Jerry Merkey, yours truly, and perhaps others have complained to the County about county workers using county bike lanes as convenient places to put their work zone signs when they could easily be put farther off to the side, thus effectively obstructing the bike lanes. I'm pretty positive the DPW Director and Pavement Division Director care. But something is falling through the cracks.

Today on the way to our home on North Mesa and while cresting the climb/curve on South San Ildefonso, I saw it again: that work zone sign plopped in the middle of the bike lane.

Its not clear to me if county workers do this out of malice or if they just don't realize this is a traveled portion of the street,  but one of these days someone is going to get hurt. Rather than continue to complain, this time I am posting a picture for Public Works to look at.

Well, you the cyclist ought to be watching for obstructions and plan ahead to avoid this mama. But if you are hit from behind, sideswiped, or harassed by drivers playing chicken with oncoming traffic when you are riding in the lane to avoid these things, you can send this pic to your attorney. Plus, aside from the hazards, I think cyclists are justified in developing a healthy dose of cynicism about bike lanes if they are used as convenient places for plopping signs or just not maintained. That is not good as it defeats the purpose of the system.

I took this picture at about six p.m. tonight on my cell phone camera. Perhaps we should move these signs to the middle of the travel lanes. After all, motorists should share the joy. Besides, I strongly suspect if motor vehicle drivers complain in droves, someone will rattle some cages real good.

Guys, can we get this process fixed once and for all?

Mind you, I have a great deal of respect for all our county workers. But someone obviously has not explained bike lanes to at least some of them.

Followup comment: Partly as a result of this post, the County Dept. of Public Works sent out an advisory to its contractors and work crews to recognize and not impede bike lanes when at all possible. Supervisors will be checking work sites. Many thanks to them for that message.
Its a bike lane, as posted above 
In a location just below the nefarious sign in the distance, now moved


Steve A said...

Nobody ought to be over on that shoulder anyway is the message I get. If they want to get cyclists "off the road," such sign placement won't help achieve that objective.

Khal said...


Lisa said...

Often in Los Alamos, it is unclear whether the space between the fog line and the curb is a shoulder or bike lane. Since the traffic laws are different depending on whether we are riding on a "shoulder" or in a "bike lane," could the county clearly mark all bike lanes so that we know what our rights to the road are?

Khal said...

If its a bike lane, there should be MUTCD signage and its a travelled portion of the street. On S. San Ildefonso, these are marked bike lanes. I think the problem here was with subcontractors.

If it is a shoulder, there should not be MUTCD bike lane signages, hence putting down road construction signs is fair game. But in that case, its not a travelled portion of the street and you have no obligation to ride in it.

We need a county bike map.

MikeOnBike said...

For California cyclists, bike lane use is mandatory (with exceptions). Shoulder use is optional.

In either case, the adjacent travel lane is typically "too narrow for a bicycle and vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane".

So it's to our advantage when the space is NOT marked as a bike lane. That gives cyclists the legal right to choose between the shoulder AND the entire travel lane (because of the substandard-width lane exception).

Whether officers and judges see it that way is a separate issue.

Boz said...

I rolled up on a police car parked in the bike lane the other day, and asked him why he was blocking said lane on a busy street. He gave that contemptuous look, and drove off, never answering my question. Nice.

Jon said...

There is still a sign ("Athletic event") in the bike lane on Canyon Rd. just west of the Aquatic Center. There is also a sign in the newly reopened bike lane on northbound Diamond near the high school. That section also has some sort of sediment/runoff control structure around a drain, blocking the lane. (And the lane itself is full of gravel and other grit that makes it not particularly useful, once you get around the rest.)

Khal said...

My understanding is that last sections of Diamond bike lanes south of Orange/Sandia are not going to be officially opened until the project is done and the dust settles and all construction stuff removed. So actually, you don't have to ride in them.

There have been a few close calls there as motorists and cyclists crisscross the bike lanes to make turns. Until the final signage is up, it may be better to ride in the lane in that last section until everyone has their signals straight and all the crap is cleared out.

As far as Canyon, seems to me the Triathlon folks share the responsibility for sweeping the course and making sure race signage is taken down. That's what I recall doing during the postmortems of the Tour de Los Alamos that I've worked.

Jon said...

Official or not, as of yesterday morning the sign is gone, as is the sediment dam. Thanks to whomever cleaned it up! A good chunk of the gravel has also cleared out; probably just normal action. Definitely in better shape than some of the more debris-strewn bits of the West Jemez shoulder.

I don't normally use the bike lane until University since I'm usually whipping down the hill from Trinity (and during monsoon, some debris is going to happen). It's still a nice option to have if I'm coming from downtown and/or feeling tired.

Caroline said...

I rode into work along Diamond this morning and not only was there a sign smack in the middle of the bike lane (really dangerous as you say) but with the new paving there are big hunks of asphalt (like really big leftover blobs) against the curb or in the bike lane.