Thursday, September 5, 2013

Homebound LANL bicyclists crossing Jemez on Diamond Drive: Don't Get T-boned

Last night I saw two northbound cyclists pull into the leftmost of the two right turn lanes on Diamond Drive where it crosses Jemez Road. When the right turn green arrows lit up but the two left turn arrows were red, they crossed straight ahead across Jemez Road to work their way to the bridge sidepath.

Cyclists travelling northbound on Diamond Drive  and crossing Jemez Road must note that when the right turn arrows on Diamond at Jemez Road are green but the left turn arrows are red, westbound Jemez Road traffic has a green light. Therefore, the two cyclists could have been t-boned at high speed by westbound traffic if they were oblivious to that traffic pattern. They were, simply put, running a red light.

Westbound Jemez Road traffic only (to my knowledge) has a red light when left turn Diamond Drive traffic has a red arrow AND when a pedestrian in one of the N-S crosswalks has activated a protected pedestrian crossing WALK cycle stopping westbound traffic. Or, of course, when left turning Diamond traffic has a green arrow.

Since there is no northbound Diamond Drive lane crossing the bridge any more, there is not a straight through green light.  Two ways to legally and safely cross Jemez Road straight north from Diamond Drive to the Omega Bridge sidepath as a cyclist, at least that I can think of, are these:

1. Legally mount the sidewalk and activate the pedestrian crossing cycle. Cross as a pedestrian, either by dismounting and walking the bike or by riding slowly and carefully in the crosswalk. Both are legal. Do not ride fast in a crosswalk--you may endanger pedestrians and may be hit by a "right on red" motorist not looking far enough into the crosswalk to note your presence.

2. Get into the rightmost left turn lane and cross with the left turn green arrow as left turning traffic. Immediately upon crossing the intersection, signal and peel off onto the shoulder and get onto the sidewalk at the ped crossing ADA curbcut or beyond.

I'm hoping the cyclists in question did not assume they were safe because their lane arrow was activated green. That is a complex intersection and one must pay attention to all the different traffic duty cycles to stay out of trouble. Going straight on a right-only arrow is not too safe, not to mention not too legal.


Anonymous said...

Darwin at work. Not a lot to be done about it. There are many out there in the competition on bikes and in cars!

Khal said...

Darwin Award indeed. I thought of using that as the title to this piece.

Jon said...

The thing is, you can get away with it just often enough to think it's safe...I did it once or twice before I realized what the possible light phasings were.

Khal said...

The problem with "just often enough" is that crashes, and fatals, are very rare compared to total number of trips. Someone will win the Darwin Award lottery at that intersection, some day....