Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cycling Claremont: Infrastructure...

A problem spot. The intersection of First Street and Claremont Blvd. is arguably the worst in the city for cyclists to navigate in an east to west direction. What makes this especially problematic is that this intersection handles all bicycle traffic from the Pacific Electric Trail. Legally, the only way for a cyclist to travel westbound through the intersection (red line) takes riders across the path of cars turning left from First onto northbound Claremont. More than once I have had to hit my brakes hard for drivers refusing to give me the right of way. Any number of reasons might explain this: 1. the distance for drivers turning left is shorter than the distance for a cyclist going through the intersection, 2. drivers do not anticipate cyclists traveling through the intersection due to the odd alignment, 3. inattention. I suspect a combination of all these are to blame. As a result I have found it much safer to make a quick left going against traffic and quickly swing around to move into the left turn lane (blue line). Yes it is illegal, and yes it comes with it's own hazard - briefly going against traffic, but in my experience it is still the safer option. 
In this image Claremont Blvd goes from top to bottom, 1st  Street comes in from the left, the P.E.T. ends at the beginning of the red line to the right. The Citrus Bikeway will start of the end of the P.E.T., travel along 1st before jogging through the Village.

What could the city do to solve this problem. A couple options spring to mind. Convert the current right turn only lane (green line) allowing traffic to travel west bound through the intersection in a mostly straight line. This would put cyclists in a direct line of sight with cars in the left turn lane directly opposite. This would be more in line with standard intersection design, and might allow drivers to better anticipate the presence of cyclists. Signs indicating the presence of cyclists would be another appropriate safety measure. A second option would be to adjust the traffic signal pattern so that cyclists moving west through the intersection would have an exclusive green light while other directions are stopped.
The street level view through the intersection is deceptive, giving the appearance of any "normally" aligned intersection, exaggerating the path a cyclist must take as seen in the aerial view (red line).

This intersection already sees considerable bicycle traffic, students coming and going from the colleges, families riding on the P.E.T., and other morning and evening commuters; with the city set to commence construction of the Citrus Regional Bikeway, this traffic may multiply even more. The hazzards here are real, I have experienced them firsthand and the city needs to take a close look at resolving them before a serious incident occurs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...