Advocacy & Safety - Curb extensions--friend or foe?
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09-08-05, 12:10 PM
I just wanted to get a sense of what people think about curb extensions. For those of you who don't know what these are.. here is a picture (http://www.vml.org/VTC/VTC3910-3.html)
They are beneficial to pedestrians because they shorten the distance needed to cross the street. They also give more visibility to the motorists, since the ped is further out.. making it more likely for the motorist to stop for the ped. Also, they slow down cars, making a visual cue that the road is narrower.
They should only be installed where onstreet parking is, allowing a parking space to be removed, replaced by the curb extension. This makes it so that the bicyclist doesn't have to swerve since they will continue going straight.
But, many bicyclists still say they have to swerve around them, and don't like them. Any other experiences?
From the looks of it, I doubt if it would affect my personal riding style much.
At an intersection, I'm going to be well into the RH lane anyway, to avoid hooks and allow right hand turns.
I'd be especially careful watching for the parked car closest to the curb extension (first in line) pulling out...he won't be able to drive straight out and merge into traffic. But maybe this is good...he will have to be SURE no one is in the lane before he pulls out.
09-08-05, 01:12 PM
They look fine as they are totally out of the travel lane. Just make sure they are a contrasting color with the pavement (which these are).
09-08-05, 02:25 PM
I think it depends a lot on the situation. These look fine to me. I would say they are friend in places where there are cars parked. In situations where the 'parking lane' is pretty empty they might be more foe. And of course the first one can be a problem if not expected. But as others have said these are a different color and hence very visible.
After thought. They could be a problem at night if not well lighted.
Most importantly they slow down cars by narrowing the lane. A slow car is a safe car.
09-09-05, 12:40 AM
I've seen a few around here and there; recently (in the last year) a few were intalled around my local area - near schools and the like. I don't have a huge issue with them, and some have a gap between the extension and the curb wide enough for a cyclist to fit through safely.
What amuses me the most is when they were first installed there were many angry letters to the local paper, mainly from 4WD (SUV) drivers complaining that it is a tight squeeze. Even funnier is that the buses that travel down this particular road seem to have no trouble getting through!
09-09-05, 01:50 AM
We've had similar things over here in the UK for quite a while. Ours are mainly designed to slow the trafic (rather like speed bumps). They sometimes purposly block an entire lane off, one direction has the right of way whilst the other should stop. Being forced into the path of on coming vehicles is'nt my idea of road safety :eek:
09-09-05, 06:31 AM
I was riding in Suasalito one fine day, enjoying the scenery, when all of a sudden, one of those "extension" things (never knew what they were called 'til you brought this up) came out of nowhere, and like the Titanic, I plowed right into it, did an endo (still clipped into my bike) and landed spectacualrly into a bush. I messed-up my right thigh real bad, and had to ride home (50 miles away) with blood running down my leg. Fortunately,a good samaritan saw my bloody mess from his car, pulled over, and whipped-out a first-aid kit and bandaged me up (thanks guy!:)).
But yeah, those extensions suck.
09-09-05, 07:19 AM
Ive seen them combined with a pedestrian island in the middle of the road. This is a real problem for cyclists. You have to take the whole lane to prevent cars overtaling where there simply isnt room. This may be easy enough on a downhill or on the flat, but when grinding up a steep hill, keeping a midlane position for 10m with a tail of cars and buses and trucks takes a lot of experience. It is using cyclists as a traffic calming tool.
09-09-05, 07:52 AM
In my experience, most of the "traffic calming" schemes that have been implemented in the UK are at least a nuisance and at worst a danger to cyclists. The extensions mentioned in the original post tend to create one or two sided pinch points in the road that are treated as high speed chicanes by many cars. The two sided variety, on narrow Oxford streets seem designed to encourage head-on collisions in the centre of the road. I'm not really convinced of the advantage to pedestrians, though one might expect the extension to offer a visual clue to drivers (and cyclists for that matter) that there may be pedestrians.
Don't even get me started on Speed humps...
09-09-05, 08:18 AM
They SUCK. We have them around here, and cars seem to expect us to move further over to the right. If I do, I stand a good chance of being cut off when it narrows again- so I usually maintain my line- which seems to frustrate motorists (who tend to pass me more closely than in areas where there are no cut-outs). In short, they make a lane NARROWER than it needs to be.
People drive like a%%holes in the US- it is a cultural thing. They have tried everything around here to slow down traffic- such as speed bumps and humps, gigantic flowerpots in the middle of intersections, and cutouts. All they do is further frustrate motorists.
09-09-05, 03:17 PM
What Ed said. These things have turned a couple of residential streets where I ride into being dangerous for cyclists. I agree with the need to slow drivers down at crosswalks, (have been hit twice while walking in crosswalks, fortunately no injuries). There are other ways to do this that don't force riders into opposing traffic, though. An example is a crosswalk near where I live, which has bright flashing lights both in the street and above it that are activated by a push button. Motorists see this even in the daytime, from a pretty good distance, and seem to respect it. If nothing else, curb extensions should have fairings in them to allow cyclists to ride over- provided they are clear of pedestrians, of course.
The only place we have these infernal things locally is along Coast Highway 101 in downtown Encinitas. They even installed one mid-block, where pedestrians should not be encouraged to cross! The one good thing I can say about them is that I normally take the right lane of this 4-lane road, because of the diagonal parking on each side. When they see the bumpouts, motorists readily realize that I have no choice but to take the right lane, at least partially.
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