Wednesday, April 28, 2010
One of the things lacking in Santa Monica, is any effort to inform or redirect cyclists during times of construction or other projects that completely interfere with bike routes. Broadway is the go to East/West bike route in Santa Monica for my self, my co-workers, friends, and many other cyclists in this town. However when Broadway is missing in action, as it is now with the asphalt of many blocks completely ripped to shreds, there was no effort to inform cyclists either ahead of time, or directly with signage on the street. No detour or alternative route suggestions, or even a warning that you are about to hit a sudden dip into a ripped up bumpy surface full of gravel.
The street is not currently closed to traffic, and cars can relatively safely travel across with their 4 wide tires and shocks, but for a cyclist, especially one on a road bike and not a mountain bike, such conditions are terrible and likely to result in falls or punctured tires, especially for an inexperienced cyclist. I could see this being most problematic for a cyclist turning onto Broadway where the construction begins, as they would not have the same forward warning something different was up ahead, and in a turn, loose gravel is more likely to cause a spill. While this construction is a more extreme example, it also not uncommon for all manner of vehicles or cones or other things to be blocking parts of the bike lane on Broadway on a regular basis. Oh and those little 3 wheeled go-carts that parking attendants drive and park in the bike lanes handing out traffic tickets. I question the legality of that practice, but it is certainly the standard protocol in Santa Monica.
If Santa Monica actually cared about cyclists in any truly meaningful way such actions without warning would be unacceptable. I'm also willing to bet a fairly large sum of money that the things inadequate in Broadway's bike lane design, like being stuck too far into the door zone or non-existent at intersections, will be painted right back down just as they were when this is done. If Santa Monica wants to live up to the promise of being a "cycling friendly" city, it has to have every department of the city on board and talking to each other. Supporting the growth of cycling, and the safety of cycling, is not just a traffic demand management issue, or a road engineering issue, or a law enforcement issue, or an education issue, it is all of the above and more, and it all has to all be working together in tandem and in a coordinated fashion. Santa Monica is doing some truly wonderful things for cycling, bike valet at big events being one of the more innovative, but at other times it is borderline criminally negligent in it's consideration for cyclists. It's time to erase the Mr. Hyde from this equation and for Santa Monica to be considerate of cyclists all the time.