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Old 09-27-06, 01:22 PM   #1
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Advocacy works!

I navigate a small, but notoriously difficult (for cyclists and pedestrians) intersection on my daily commute.
For years, residents have been pushing for assessment and treatment of the bike/ped facilities at this spot on the edge of Duke's east campus; where a multi-use trail ends at a three-way intersection, crossing 35 mph traffic that doesn't stop for peds in the crosswalk.
We are currently in the early stages of a city-wide bike plan, and the dangers of this intersection were addressed in steering commitee meetings.

Recently, a pedestrian (Duke student) was struck while in the crosswalk, and there was a subsequent flurry of activity on message boards, in the newspaper, and in city hall.
Today, as I rode through this spot, I noticed three officials from Planning reviewing a set of plans, with surveying tools laying about.

I stopped and chatted, having recognized one guy from a few of those bike plan meetings.
They told me they were going to put a signal at this spot, and study the results for a year before moving to a more permanent solution (eg. roadway re-design).
I thanked them for a job well done, and received some business cards in return - one guy even asked me to email him with any other problem spots I encounter while cycling through town.

So there's my positive bike advocacy story.
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Old 09-27-06, 02:23 PM   #2
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It's good to see that the city is actually listening to citizens. Believe it or not, there really are still a few intelligent people left.
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Old 09-27-06, 02:27 PM   #3
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Nice!
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Old 09-27-06, 03:20 PM   #4
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Nice but doesn't it suck that somebody has to get hurt or killed for action to take place?
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Old 09-27-06, 03:24 PM   #5
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The cynical part of me would say that the advocacy didn't work (years of work pre-incident), but having a careless driver hit a person got the attention.

But non-cynically and seriously, this sounds like a good step and sounds like without the efforts of the advocates nothing much would have changed after the accident.

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Old 09-27-06, 04:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Nice but doesn't it suck that somebody has to get hurt or killed for action to take place?
Deadly intersection in my neck of year it was a regular meat grinder. After about 20 accidents or so they though might be a good idea to put a light there
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Old 09-27-06, 06:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by * jack *
I navigate a small, but notoriously difficult (for cyclists and pedestrians) intersection on my daily commute.
For years, residents have been pushing for assessment and treatment of the bike/ped facilities at this spot on the edge of Duke's east campus; where a multi-use trail ends at a three-way intersection, crossing 35 mph traffic that doesn't stop for peds in the crosswalk.
We are currently in the early stages of a city-wide bike plan, and the dangers of this intersection were addressed in steering commitee meetings.

Recently, a pedestrian (Duke student) was struck while in the crosswalk, and there was a subsequent flurry of activity on message boards, in the newspaper, and in city hall.
Today, as I rode through this spot, I noticed three officials from Planning reviewing a set of plans, with surveying tools laying about.

I stopped and chatted, having recognized one guy from a few of those bike plan meetings.
They told me they were going to put a signal at this spot, and study the results for a year before moving to a more permanent solution (eg. roadway re-design).
I thanked them for a job well done, and received some business cards in return - one guy even asked me to email him with any other problem spots I encounter while cycling through town.

So there's my positive bike advocacy story.
Actually, this is a step in the wrong direction.

The root cause is that we have dumbified our roads so much that motorists won't stop or slow down even on surface streets for just about anything except a red light or stop sign.

Adding a light in this situation is just putting more fuel in the fire, dumbifying our streets even further.

We should be lobbying for the removal of stop signs, removal of bike lanes that allow motorists to pass us as if we're not even there, replacing street signals with traffic circles, etc., complicating our streets for drivers, not making it easier for them to drive along mindlessly from light to stop sign to light. Is it any wonder they don't PAY ATTENTION any more? Adding signals like the one described in the OP is part of the problem: practically eliminating the need for drivers to pay attention to anything but the traffic lights and stop signs. It's stupefying.
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Old 09-27-06, 06:28 PM   #8
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Old 09-27-06, 06:51 PM   #9
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I went to school there. What were the streets at that intersection?

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Old 09-27-06, 07:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
The cynical part of me would say that the advocacy didn't work (years of work pre-incident), but having a careless driver hit a person got the attention.

Al
Agreed 100%. The advocacy might have helped, but it required the accident before any action was taken. Typical.

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Old 09-27-06, 08:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
... The root cause is that we have dumbified our roads so much that motorists won't stop or slow down even on surface streets for just about anything except a red light or stop sign.

... complicating our streets for drivers, not making it easier for them to drive along mindlessly from light to stop sign to light. Is it any wonder they don't PAY ATTENTION any more? Adding signals like the one described in the OP is part of the problem: practically eliminating the need for drivers to pay attention to anything but the traffic lights and stop signs. It's stupefying.
OK, HH, I could go along with that, if we were also correspondingly stricter about who can obtain and retain a driver's license.
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Old 09-27-06, 08:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanparrish
Deadly intersection in my neck of year it was a regular meat grinder. After about 20 accidents or so they though might be a good idea to put a light there

What?
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Old 09-28-06, 07:29 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulH
I went to school there. What were the streets at that intersection?

Paul
Broad and Perry, by Whole Foods and the bike shop.
The multi-use path is the one that enters campus near the hockey field.

For those that don't know, East campus is surrounded by a stone wall, and this path is the only place for bikes/peds to enter/exit the western boundary of campus.



This spot has been neglected for a while - and yes it sucks that an injury had to occur for existing plans to be put on the fast track, but it is happening thanks to recent advocacy efforts. Cynicism is expected, I'm just trying to put a postive spin on things.
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Old 09-28-06, 07:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by * jack *
This spot has been neglected for a while - and yes it sucks that an injury had to occur for existing plans to be put on the fast track, but it is happening thanks to recent advocacy efforts.
One of my town's traffic engineers told me yesterday that putting in a traffic signal isn't a "free lunch" in the collision reduction sense; rear-end collisions have increased significantly (2 to 3 times greater) on average. Our assumption is that some approaching straight-thru drivers react by braking when the signal turns yellow, but some accelerate (to enter the intersection during the yellow phase and avoid having to wait for a full cycle).
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Old 09-28-06, 08:04 AM   #15
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I agree completely. I'm assuming that's why the signal will be temporary, while they look at better options.

Necking down the road to reduce vehicle speed and installing raised crosswalks w/ brick pavers were mentioned as possible options. Others have also mentioned also removing the left turn lane as seen in the image above.

This intersection is between two wide-spaced stoplights, and vehicles reach a peak speed at this spot. Fluorescent signs warning of the pedestrian crossing have had no effect at slowing traffic or raising driver awareness. I'm hoping a signal will at least do that for the time being.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Necking down the road to reduce vehicle speed ...
As you may know, one drawback of physically narrowing the road (BTW, just painting narrower lane lines dosn't make a statistically significant difference in speeds over the long term) is that more folks are likely to feel excessively uncomfortable about traveling there unless they're in a heavy vehicle (car, truck, etc.).

Quote:
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... and installing raised crosswalks w/ brick pavers ...
My town uses speed humps (not bumps) that seem to be quite effective at getting everyone to not speed (at least while going over the hump) without increasing the danger of crashing for cyclists. Crosswalks are sometimes marked in the middle of the humps.
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Old 09-28-06, 08:58 AM   #17
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I live on a street with speed humps and can attest that they do nothing to slow traffic.
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Old 09-28-06, 09:13 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Nice but doesn't it suck that somebody has to get hurt or killed for action to take place?
Don't you know that is the way things like this always work? A govt. will not take pro-active action on things like this, despite the number of concerns & complaints issued before hand until someone is hurt or killed. If someone is hurt it seems to depend on the severity of the injury before action is taken. A lot of times when someone is killed action is not taken unless there is a law suit filed by the grieving family against the govt. agency responsible for the roadway or piece of infrastructure that is being dealt with.
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Old 09-28-06, 09:50 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oboeguy
Nice but doesn't it suck that somebody has to get hurt or killed for action to take place?
Bingo. That's the reason you see those "Share the Road" signs in the first place. It usually takes a cyclist to get killed before city officials start placing signs.
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Old 09-28-06, 09:51 AM   #20
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I live on a street with speed humps and can attest that they do nothing to slow traffic.
I too dislike speed humps and bumps. I actually think they may reduce safety as in my observation many if not most drivers focus on the bump/hump and how to most quickly get over it vs. giving attention to other potential road obsticals. Our neighborhood had humps installed by a group of uptight neighbors*, the result is that I hear far more engine noise from my backyard as people lay on the gas after each bump to get back up to 35mph, slam on the brakes to clear bump at 20, then repeat.

*a music venue/bar opened on the corner, they protested and one of their demands was speed humps, despite the fact there was no outlet from the bar into the hood and no thru roads in the hood to anywhere.

Al
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Old 09-28-06, 09:51 AM   #21
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I live on a street with speed humps and can attest that they do nothing to slow traffic.
I've seen speed humps made of steel that are about 4 inches high. They do work!
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Old 09-28-06, 09:59 AM   #22
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I've seen speed humps made of steel that are about 4 inches high. They do work!
Can bicycles safety travel over them? I ask as this type of speed bump was installed in front of a school I used to commute by. They were made of very hard rubber and had a stair step shape, with about a 3" vertical step. They were a major hassle on bicycle as I would need to slow to at least 5mph and still get quite an impact. This was in a case where there were also bike lanes and the bumps were not installed across them. However being in front of a school there were 4 successive turns and two crosswalks, all very heavily used during my AM commute, so that it was near impossible to use the BL without getting right hooked (usually a semi-line of cars waiting to make the right as parking lot was jammed with parents dropping kids off) or being too close to sidewalk where a kid may step off.

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Old 09-28-06, 10:28 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Actually, this is a step in the wrong direction.

The root cause is that we have dumbified our roads so much that motorists won't stop or slow down even on surface streets for just about anything except a red light or stop sign.

Adding a light in this situation is just putting more fuel in the fire, dumbifying our streets even further.
I disagree that a stop light is a step in the wrong direction.

The stop light is an immediate solution to a long-term problem until the road is redesigned. Actually, the more stop signs and stop lights motorists have to travel through, the slower traffic goes and the more motorists have to pay attention.

If dumbing-down our streets is what it takes to make motorists slow down and pay attention, then that's what it takes!
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Old 09-28-06, 10:36 AM   #24
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This is a good read about Traffic Signals
This is good to read about X-Walks

Note that these City of Mesa, AZ pages also contain other interesting material about traffic management. (see related links box on right and traffic management and calming links on sidebar on left of page)

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Old 09-28-06, 11:01 AM   #25
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Quote:
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I disagree that a stop light is a step in the wrong direction.

The stop light is an immediate solution to a long-term problem until the road is redesigned. Actually, the more stop signs and stop lights motorists have to travel through, the slower traffic goes and the more motorists have to pay attention.

If dumbing-down our streets is what it takes to make motorists slow down and pay attention, then that's what it takes!
But the more traffic lights we have, then the less they pay attention.

Paying attention is not an on/off thing. While we talk about whether someone is paying attention or not, what we really mean is whether they are paying attention to something in particular or not. For example, the student who is not paying attention is actually paying attention, just not to what the teacher is saying. He's paying attention to the girl next to him, or his fantasies, or whatever.

With more and more traffic lights, we end up with a situation where what the motorists are paying attention to is only the traffic lights. That is, they won't stop midblock for a pedestrian or even turning driver any more. And it's tempting to look at that situation and conclude that the solution is a traffic signal. But that just perpetuates the problem: mindless driving.
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