Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Safety Corner

I have been living in my city since 1965. Like most kids my age, I rode a bike all over the place through highschool, and then through 4 years of college. Never had a problem sharing the road with cars.

A popular Saturday spot in my teen years was a little bridge in a downtown park. Among the many unremarkable corners I rode around to get there is one that in the last year or so has received numerous ummm, safety enhancements.

First, as part of an ongoing local practice of giving bikes their own separate lanes,  separate bike lanes were added going straight & turning right.

And a picture of a bike was painted on the lane going straight just to make it clear that's not a lane for motorcycles or Smart cars or runners or people with strollers. And a straight-ahead arrow was painted too, in case a cyclist wanted to turn right into the car lane (I think); as the Australians soldiers said in the trenches of 1918: too late, chum!

To further separate bike & vehicular traffic, a curb was added, which has the side effect of pinching the turn for cars.

And a sign was added to indicate that bikes bear right, and vehicles keep left, although the vehicle side seems to conflict a bit with the bike and arrow painted on the ground which are going straight. It may be best not to pay too much attention to the sign's arrows.

Then a set of three pickets (is three pickets enough- I'm thinking seven) and reflectors were added to physically separate the vehicles and bikes that go straight without turning right. I think. If my aging joints get too crabby about the high-impact of running, and I start riding a bike again, I'll have to be careful here not to impale myself three times. And if I ran around this corner I suppose I'd use the bike lane. I'm not sure. Maybe runners need their own lanes too; no runner wants to be hit by cars or bikes. I should mention that I run without a helmet- in case that's relevant.

I've read the local paper every day for 25 years, never seen a word about this corner being a danger for anyone (which isn't exhaustive research). Which isn't to say that nobody on a bike was ever injured here, although the local papers seem to be vigilant in reporting car vs. bike accidents. But as a once and future bike-rider around this very corner, I think it may have been safer when it was dangerous. If that's what it was in the first place.

 The Safety Corner