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Unsafe streets, designed that way

Old 01-11-16, 11:54 PM
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cccorlew
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Unsafe streets, designed that way

This well-written and well-researched story on SFGate's Bike Blog about unsafe streets uses Antioch, where I live, as an example to make it's point. Check it out.

Dangerous by design: what one crash tells us about bad street planning - Bay Bikers: The Bay Area's bicycle blog
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Old 01-12-16, 12:50 AM
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This isn't speaking to all of the points of the article, but is it a right (or expectation) that cyclists should be able to get from point A to B in the shortest distance/equal distance to automobiles?

I became a bike commuter this morning when my wife's car broke down and she had to take mine. Without consideration of the distance, I took the route that was on the quiet two lane (would be arterial) roads with designated bike lanes rather then the busier four and six lane roads. After comparing the 9.2mi route I took with the shortest ~5mi route available, I did question if the extra distance was really worth the safety. The extra distance is doubling the trip time, though on the ride home I decided that extra 15min was a reasonable trade off for the safety/less stress (quieter, cleaner, won't get buzzed at 50mph) it provided.
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Old 01-12-16, 03:29 AM
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Uhh... Ohh... not the same accident that was posted, then deleted a couple of months ago.
And the analysis in the article was similar to what I had given (and was deleted).

The Delta De Anza trail made several road crossings. This one was by far the worst design.

The cyclist crossed against a Do-Not-Walk crosswalk signal, but it was never clear whether the cyclist could activate the signal. But, being so close to the intersection, both the crosswalk and the bike path should have been controlled by the crossing signal which would have ensured no cross traffic. And, installing appropriate signal switches would be a minimal cost to the city. Not significantly more expensive than putting in the crosswalk that is expected at major intersections.

Other street crossings for the trail are away from intersections, and give better visibility to both drivers and cyclists.

And, being along the canal, it would have been cheap to build a bridge that would have crossed both the trail and the canal, completely avoiding the problem, had it been done when the trail, canal, and roads were put in. Would it have flooded during the El Niño floods? Nonetheless, it would be ok going under the bridge most of the time, and one can deal with the occasional flood.

In general, I do like the off-street bike paths, but they need a good design, especially considering the road crossings and trail access points.

That is an interesting comment about cul-de-sacs and arterials. The no through neighborhood roads presumably make it safer for pedestrians, and multiple use of the streets, although curves have lower visibility than straight roads (also curves naturally slow traffic). However, it is a good point that it can be dangerous forcing bikes into the arterials, especially if not designed for bike safety.

And, it is not just a California problem. I'm trying to plan a trip in my mind between Beaverton and Hillsdale in Portland, on the appropriately named Beaverton Hillsdale Highway. While part of the route has a bike path, the path ends along the route. And, as far as I know, there are no alternative roads to take. None of the streets go through. I suppose, looking at the map, one could double or triple the distance, going up and down several hills, and jumping from one arterial to another. I can survive the traffic in the arterials with a good bike path, but it still isn't for the feint of heart. I haven't pulled a trailer along the route without a path, and it will be interesting when I make the attempt.
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Old 01-12-16, 07:22 PM
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This is a useful piece of journalism. I hope it is read by city/public space managers.
Obviously the Swedish approach is forward thinking by a country that has a long history of recognizing the benefits of cycling or other non automotive transportation. A far cry from the US model.

In relation to the related accident I see a couple major faults, one from the system, and one from the users of the public space.

This should be an eye opener as it dramatically illustrates the consequences of the work done by non cooperating public agencies. As stated in the article several options could have prevented such accidents with just a bit of communication between the city/county and the State Park agency. A couple of them would not have involved much cost.

Secondly it is a reminder that we, the users, should never assume we have a guaranteed safe path. A green light may mean that we have a right to cross another lane of traffic but it is never a guarantee that our path is 100% safe. We are dearly lacking in regards to traffic education. It is more evident in this country as automobile transportation has long been the exclusive recipient of roadway investment. We should put more emphasis on the rules of the road; using public roads is a privilege not a right, all users have the same rights, and we shall always be in control of our vehicle. Putting warning signs everywhere may help but we may waste tons of money for nothing if we don't also invest in improving the social behavior and the awareness of road users.

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Old 01-12-16, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by anotherbrian View Post
....but is it a right (or expectation) that cyclists should be able to get from point A to B in the shortest distance/equal distance to automobiles?....
I think the point is that that roads, paid for and used by all, are entirely auto centric to the point of being unsafe and hard to use for anyone else.

I can look to the brand new, built from blank paper BART station being built in Antioch that, rather than encourage non-auto customers, seems to be designed to kill them. Take a peek. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uivNDzxlu2Q
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Old 01-12-16, 08:47 PM
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I live and ride in South Orange County/Irvine area, and the entire road system here is high speed arterials and dead end residential roads that go nowhere. The article makes a good point about these. And even though the urban planners had auto traffic in mind in designing this, as I driver I find these roads to be very frustrating. The stop/start, sprinting up to 55mph and then slamming on the brakes for the next signal and very long signal wait times make drivers angry, stressed out and this leads to even more danger for both cyclists and other drivers as they run lights, don't stop before making right turns on red, etc. Homes/offices/retail are all too far away from each other to be walkable and require getting out on the arterial roads for even the most minor errands.

These as so-called "master planned" communities. Maybe they look good in the CAD program but in real life they fail all modes of transportation.
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Old 01-12-16, 10:23 PM
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One feature of those old grid street patterns that doesn't get a lot of attention is the fact that they usually have narrow lanes. Ten foot lanes are pretty normal on these roads and narrower isn't out of the question. Our newer roads tend towards the deadly middle-ground of twelve foot lanes. Twelve feet is too little for routine lane sharing between motor vehicles and cyclists but feels a bit wide for conventional "take the lane" riding, so most cyclists attempt to ride to the far right and get buzzed by close passes.
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Old 01-13-16, 03:59 PM
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I saw the initial video and was a little confused because I couldn't get a good idea of the layout of the road. Is this it?

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.9830.../data=!3m1!1e3

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.9829...7i13312!8i6656
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Old 01-13-16, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
I think the point is that that roads, paid for and used by all, are entirely auto centric to the point of being unsafe and hard to use for anyone else.

I can look to the brand new, built from blank paper BART station being built in Antioch that, rather than encourage non-auto customers, seems to be designed to kill them. Take a peek. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uivNDzxlu2Q
Hopefully your article, and perhaps going to the local government, and you can get the proper signals at the place where you had the accident. And, encourage evaluating making underpasses along the canal if there is space (or for future construction).

Maybe I'll try to get some photos of canal underpasses around here. A couple of days ago, I went under an underpass with a bike lane going under a bike lane. I suppose there are a few of those that I pass.

That right turn in the video looks poorly thought out.

I can see what happened. I don't think I would push the bikes left into the middle of the 2-lane road. So, the best choice would have been to move the bike lane right, and probably force the bikes to use a cross walk with turn signals. Not fun, but safer.

I always hate lanes that put traffic on my right anyway.
We have at least one place that jumps from a bike lane to sharrows and back to a bike lane for the right turns. A bit odd, but perhaps appropriate in some cases (not necessarily that freeway interchange).
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Old 01-13-16, 10:11 PM
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Yes. That's it.
Originally Posted by ricebowl View Post
I saw the initial video and was a little confused because I couldn't get a good idea of the layout of the road. Is this it?

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.9830.../data=!3m1!1e3

https://www.google.com/maps/@37.9829...7i13312!8i6656
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Old 01-14-16, 01:44 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Hopefully your article, and perhaps going to the local government, and you can get the proper signals at the place where you had the accident. And, encourage evaluating making underpasses along the canal if there is space (or for future construction).

Maybe I'll try to get some photos of canal underpasses around here. A couple of days ago, I went under an underpass with a bike lane going under a bike lane. I suppose there are a few of those that I pass.

That right turn in the video looks poorly thought out.

I can see what happened. I don't think I would push the bikes left into the middle of the 2-lane road. So, the best choice would have been to move the bike lane right, and probably force the bikes to use a cross walk with turn signals. Not fun, but safer.

I always hate lanes that put traffic on my right anyway.
We have at least one place that jumps from a bike lane to sharrows and back to a bike lane for the right turns. A bit odd, but perhaps appropriate in some cases (not necessarily that freeway interchange).
What constitutes a "proper signal" is really a matter of opinion. I'm sure you've ridden through many intersections that are uncontrolled. In fact, you no doubt did this on your driving test since it is a required component of that test. The location of "Lou's" crash was just that, an uncontrolled intersection. The fact that a signalized intersection was nearby is just a distraction.

I'm not saying that build is done well, but the error was with the motorist more than with the engineering. I expect that if any change was made, it would just make things worse. A typical Contra Costa "solution" to these situations is to put a stop or yield sign on the bike path and then call every collision the fault of the cyclist for not yielding to a vehicle that wasn't even on the road when the cyclist entered the intersection. Until we are willing to inconvenience motorists, these separated facilities will continue to have these fatal flaws.

Also, I wouldn't be too quick to show examples from Eugene as demonstrations of things done well. Both nationally and statewide vulnerable road users account for about one-sixth of all roadway deaths. Eugene stands out for having a full 50% of its roadway deaths be vulnerable users. Whatever Eugene is doing, it apparently doesn't work as well as other locales, at least from a cyclist/pedestrian perspective.
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Old 01-14-16, 03:41 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
What constitutes a "proper signal" is really a matter of opinion. I'm sure you've ridden through many intersections that are uncontrolled. In fact, you no doubt did this on your driving test since it is a required component of that test. The location of "Lou's" crash was just that, an uncontrolled intersection. The fact that a signalized intersection was nearby is just a distraction.

I'm not saying that build is done well, but the error was with the motorist more than with the engineering. I expect that if any change was made, it would just make things worse. A typical Contra Costa "solution" to these situations is to put a stop or yield sign on the bike path and then call every collision the fault of the cyclist for not yielding to a vehicle that wasn't even on the road when the cyclist entered the intersection. Until we are willing to inconvenience motorists, these separated facilities will continue to have these fatal flaws.
The bike path, at the point of cccorlew's accident in fact had a stop sign, 5 feet to the left of a bright orange DO NOT WALK signal. The pickup apparently had a green left turn light.

One shouldn't give two vehicles crossing at an interchange both green lights. Imagine the carnage. Saying both the pickup who had a green, and the cyclist who had a stop & do-not-walk signal should be clear to go is the same, carnage.

I suppose one does deal with right turns across crosswalks and bikepaths which are suboptimal, and a frequent risk for car/(pedestrian-cycle) interactions.

I can't think of quite the same type of bike path here in Eugene/Springfield. Perhaps heading southward on the 42nd street bike path is similar, but less cross traffic. I always treat that with caution, especially as it hits the end of the path and I'm looking for ways to cross 42nd street without a good cross signal.

The Pioneer Parkway/Rosa Parks median strip path is similar, but in the median strip. I regularly hit a Do-Not-Walk signal where the path goes under HWY 126/105, and my general rule is that if cars are moving on both sides of me, then they can not cross my path, but one is still at risk for signal changes.

Anyway, I would tie the Delta De Anza path signal with the crosswalk.
Green if both directions on Hillcrest have a green.
Red if either Via Dora has a green, or the left off of westbound Hillcrest has a green.
Possibly give a blinking yellow to eastbound turning traffic off of Hillcrest to indicate crossing the bike path, crosswalk, and canal trail. Plus, better marking of the path crossing which apparently has no on-street marking of the crossing area.

Personally I like countdown timers on crosswalks to tell a person how much time one has to safely cross, but unfortunately, they often don't activate them if the entire walk/don't walk cycle isn't activated.
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Old 01-14-16, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Also, I wouldn't be too quick to show examples from Eugene as demonstrations of things done well. Both nationally and statewide vulnerable road users account for about one-sixth of all roadway deaths. Eugene stands out for having a full 50% of its roadway deaths be vulnerable users. Whatever Eugene is doing, it apparently doesn't work as well as other locales, at least from a cyclist/pedestrian perspective.
I'm looking for statistics, and not finding anything to indicate Eugene is worse than the rest of the country.

Fatal car crashes and road traffic accidents in Eugene, Oregon
Fatal car crashes and road traffic accidents in Springfield, Oregon

For the most part, Eugene is below the Oregon average of total vehicle fatalities per 100K. Springfield is close to the Oregon average.
Pedestrian/Vehicle Fatalities for both cities are close to the Oregon average.

For Oregon, bike fatalities per million population is higher than several other states, but only because the number of bike commuters is also high.
However, if one looks at fatalities per 10K bike commuters, the fatality rate is one of the lowest.
California is actually worse with both the fatalities per million population, as well as almost 3x worse in the fatalities per 10K bike commuters.

Bicycle Safety 101: How Texas Ranks in Bicycle Fatality and Commuting Rates | Candy's Dirt
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/...port_final.pdf


On this page, I found ONE report of a bicycle fatality in Eugene in 2014/2015, and NONE in Springfield.
List of all Road Accidents in Eugene, Oregon ,United States - Road Accidents in Eugene - Eugene Road Accidents | www.accidentsinus.com

Apparently the cyclist was killed by a Lane County Sheriff's Officer.
The Cyclist was riding in the middle of HWY 99 (55 mph speed limit) after dark, with dark clothing, and no taillight. And the road has a wide shoulder at that point. The middle of the right lane wouldn't put her in position for a left turn.
Bicyclist, deputy identified in fatal Highway 99 collision | Local | Eugene, Oregon
State Police: Bicyclist hit, killed by Lane County sheriff's deputy | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KVAL

Anyway, what it may be is that Eugene is lower than average with total fatalities, but only average with pedestrian fatalities, thus skewing the pedestrians to total statistic.

Bike accidents get skewed by the small population and higher than average number of cyclists.

Keep riding, and BE SAFE.
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Old 01-18-16, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
I'm looking for statistics, and not finding anything to indicate Eugene is worse than the rest of the country.
The only up-to-date repository for bike and pedestrian deaths in the city of Eugene is the Public Works Department, division of engineering. Go talk to Kerry Werner, one of the traffic engineers, if you want the gory details. Bottom line: over the past decade, Eugene has averaged six roadway deaths per year. Of these six, one-third have been pedestrians and one-sixth has been a cyclist, on average. That makes vulnerable users one-half of all roadway deaths, as opposed to the one-sixth or fewer for state and national CARnage.
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