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Square Curbs

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Square Curbs

Old 11-23-21, 02:02 PM
  #1  
jamawani 
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Square Curbs

Just wondering what you think of square curbs?

I think they are death traps for cyclists -
and cannot understand why some cities continue to use them on higher-speed arterials.
They also cause major damage to cars and can cause them to flip or go airborne.

They do serve a purpose in business districts and residential areas with heavy sidewalk traffic.
Those areas have low speeds and, hopefully, alternative residential streets for cycling.

But there are times when you have to get on an arterial road with higher speeds.
Often these are the 5-lane with a turning lane in the middle. 45 mph - really 55+.
If they have shoulders, they usually don't have curbs.
But when there is no shouder and square curb - it is scary.

Last edited by jamawani; 11-23-21 at 04:54 PM.
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Old 11-23-21, 02:44 PM
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I don't ride on curbs, square or rounded. It's never occurred to me to even be relevant to bicycling which type is used. Square ones are apparently safer for pedestrians than rounded ones.

Last edited by livedarklions; 11-24-21 at 04:05 AM.
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Old 11-23-21, 09:29 PM
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Square curbs help channel water better and discourage drivers from parking with two wheels on the sidewalk, and help keep errant motorized vehicles from jumping up onto a sidewalk.

Rounded curbs are more friendly to strollers, wheeled mobility devices (like wheelchairs and walkers) and yes, bicycles.

I commuted 28 years on streets and I never thought about curb type until your post. Looking back, rounded curbs have allowed me to easily glide up onto a sidewalk to escape menacing traffic situations. And while square cut curbs don't allow for gliding up, I have made quick stops and lifted my bike up to a sidewalk, either while straddling the frame, or even hopping off. It just came naturally.

But your post also reminded me of two incidents involving the same 10 feet of rounded curb.

The one time I taco'd a wheel on a curb it was this rounded curb. It was around 1995 and I was turning left onto a street when a car came flying out of an alley on the left swung wide into the wrong lane and was about to hit me, so I aborted my turn and rode straight for the other side. I lifted my front wheel, but the rear smacked the rounded curb at over 20 mph and crunched. It was a 26" wheel with a 2-inch street tire.

I made that left turn almost every commute for the next 25 years and every time I thought about that near miss and busting my rear wheel.

And then there was one more incident involving that same curb within 10 feet of where I hit it.

About 5 years ago I was riding home approaching that same left turn and my phone beeped to alert me I had an e-mail. I pulled up against the curb and stopped, but not on the street, and not up above the curb, but halfway up the curb. Before I could put my left foot down, the bike slid down the curb and I fell over to the right. Lucky for me the sidewalk had ended up near where I had banged my wheel 10 years before, and I merely fell over onto soft dirt.

I was going to say that I wouldn't have fallen had the curb been square cut since I wouldn;t have been able to stop halfway up, but knowing me, I probably would have found a way to fall just the same.
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Old 11-24-21, 01:40 PM
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I'd be more worried about other things. Just like cars, I see the curb, I know it's there, but unlike cars, I know what the curb is about to do.

I see the point about square vs rounded... I think. But there is more important stuff to gripe about.
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Old 11-26-21, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
They also cause major damage to cars and can cause them to flip or go airborne.
If you're hitting the curb you're doing something wrong
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Old 11-26-21, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
If you're hitting the curb you're doing something wrong
Most drivers I see flip over a square kerb, either drunk or asleep or overspeeding. It happens mostly late in the night too, around 12 am (worst time to ride bicycles unless you have death wish).
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Old 01-13-22, 08:20 AM
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Thank you for raising this question! I feel the same way about square curbs. They are a hazard to anyone using a bike or scooter or mobility device, and prevent people from taking refuge off the street. I've heard my city argue that they're safer for pedestrians because they keep cars off the sidewalk, but I routinely see cars parked with two wheels on the sidewalk over a square curb, so clearly they're not a major barrier for an out of control vehicle. I haven't found any research supporting the argument that they're better for people walking. Anyone know of such research?

Just last week we had a lot of snow and ice, and while picking my kid up from school I watched a kid using a wheelchair use the bus lane (which was a sheet of ice), because the crosswalk ramp was iced over. The kid had one chance to access the sidewalk on the whole block because the rest has a square curb. It was awful.
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Old 01-13-22, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by dedhed View Post
If you're hitting the curb you're doing something wrong
I can attest to this
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Old 01-13-22, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by hpr View Post
Thank you for raising this question! I feel the same way about square curbs. They are a hazard to anyone using a bike or scooter or mobility device, and prevent people from taking refuge off the street. I've heard my city argue that they're safer for pedestrians because they keep cars off the sidewalk, but I routinely see cars parked with two wheels on the sidewalk over a square curb, so clearly they're not a major barrier for an out of control vehicle. I haven't found any research supporting the argument that they're better for people walking. Anyone know of such research?

Just last week we had a lot of snow and ice, and while picking my kid up from school I watched a kid using a wheelchair use the bus lane (which was a sheet of ice), because the crosswalk ramp was iced over. The kid had one chance to access the sidewalk on the whole block because the rest has a square curb. It was awful.
I hope you got out of your car and helped him onto the sidewalk.
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Old 01-14-22, 03:44 PM
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I agree with the OP, square curbs should be outlawed.
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Old 01-15-22, 07:33 AM
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Curbs aren't going anywhere as long as there are cars, rain & snow, and flexible pavement. Roadway design is about many factors and bicycles are are a minor factor in design.

https://www.chescoplanning.org/munic...RoadDesign.cfm
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Old 01-15-22, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
Just wondering what you think of square curbs?
On balance, I'd think rounded curbs would be more sensible.

I've long thought there should be rounded curbs instead of the squared-off ones.

People grossly out of control with vehicles will still jump squared curbs, so that alone isn't much of a barrier.

Rounded curbs are a bit safer for bicycles, wheelchairs and other small-wheeled carts and vehicles. For the irresponsible, it'd probably prompt a bit more jay-walking instead of heading to the crosswalk, I suppose.

Can't see how it'd be much different for average amounts of water in the gutters. There ought to be plenty more grates along gutters, anyway, for getting water from the gutter into the sewers. At high levels of flow, would rounded hold less? Not if they're built high enough to hold roughly the equivalent of an average smaller squared variant, I'd think.

And in terms of simple aesthetics, I think the rounded ones look a little better, if "looking good" can be said of curbs.
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Old 01-15-22, 11:05 AM
  #13  
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Square curbs keep the garbage cans from falling over...I think they should pad the sidewalks in case I ever need to bail.. Really, I see your point, but it's just one of the many hazards on the road that you learn to avoid.
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Old 01-15-22, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
Square curbs keep the garbage cans from falling over...I think they should pad the sidewalks in case I ever need to bail.. Really, I see your point, but it's just one of the many hazards on the road that you learn to avoid.
that's right
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Old 01-15-22, 01:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
But there are times when you have to get on an arterial road with higher speeds.
Often these are the 5-lane with a turning lane in the middle. 45 mph - really 55+.
If they have shoulders, they usually don't have curbs.
But when there is no shouder and square curb - it is scary.
It sounds like the problem is the lack of a shoulder, not the shape of the curb.
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Old 01-22-22, 10:12 AM
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Square curbs and sewer grates running in the same direction as the road are known safety hazards, and should be eliminated.
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Old 01-22-22, 01:01 PM
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I strongly urge everyone to lobby hard for Roman Ogee curbs. Have some class, people!
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