Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Bike To Work Day Surprise, A Small Tweak In The Road On Broadway Ave.


I'm a little late on my usual bike to work day/week/month news and commentary of years past, but Streetsblog LA is a better place to find that information. I had some hyper local small scale good news though this bike to work day. I just noticed a day and a half or so after my last blog post and e-mail to SM Transportation Management, there were new spray paint marks on Broadway this morning, with the old ones still visible. In addition to my complaint about the initial construction work and lack of warning signage for cyclists for the rough road condition, followed by incorrectly placed reflector flaps after repaving, I made the point that in that particular part of Broadway from 26th to Cloverfield, the former line markings for the street were problematic. I was concerned based on initial spray paint markings that rather than use the opportunity for new painting to tweak things a little nicer, the same problems would be painted right back down.

On the South side of the street the bikelane was too narrow, actually pretty standard for Broadway, but narrow when you consider the door zone. On The North side however, the bikelane was actually a bit wider than necessary, actually as wide as some car lanes. This particular block actually has more width from curb to curb to work with. While extra space is nice, when a bike lane is too wide, and not well marked, drivers will confusingly drive through it, or often you would see people taking advantage of the space for temporary double parking (This can also be found on 11th just North of Colorado). I encountered both of these issues on a regular basis riding to work every day. So I proposed if there is less than ideal space for bikes on one side, right in front of the popular Helen's bike shop, and more space than necessary on the other side, why not just shift the lines of the road over a little. Then at lunch the final paint had been done over the new markings and it looks like shifting the lines over a little is exactly what has been done. I have not confirmed for absolutely sure my comments led to this, but clearly the lines were marked one way and changed at the last minute exactly in the manner I described would be better.

Little details like this are easily overlooked, but they matter, and I'm really happy to see the change. Hopefully on my rides to work no more double parking and confused motorists using the bike lane as though it is for through way automobile traffic on the South side of this block, and a little more breathing room from the door zone on the North side. Additionally there is a second line more clearly delineating the bike lane from the car parking, and where extra space was available they even painted in a little buffer zone to account for the door zone hazard. This is not the most perfect bike lane routed block of street in the world, but it's a noticeable improvement over it's former self with minimal effort and zero impact to automobile traffic lanes. All it took was moving a little paint around slightly differently on a section of road that was being redone anyways.

In less cheerful news, the warm fuzzy feeling of seeing a bike lane improved was tempered by frustration with two near misses today. This morning an SUV driver making a left that was not paying attention and nearly ran me down while I was walking in the crosswalk after finishing up a jog. Anyone who knows me knows I jog almost never, as much as I say it would be a good idea to cross train for cycling. Yet this is the 2nd time on a morning jog an SUV driver making a left went flying through the intersection on green after an initial delayed reaction (indicative of the mindless driver type), with me in the middle of the crosswalk having to jump out of the way. Always followed by the screeching stop and blank look like what was I doing in the crosswalk. The last time this happened a few months ago the person driving actually screamed at me despite my clear right of way.

Then during my lunch break, a few blocks down after passing the newly repainted block, I was nearly merged into by a motorist stuck in traffic who started erratically swerving in that futile effort I see sometimes when a driver will try to shove their car into spaces they don't fit as though that can allow them to skip the long line of traffic ahead. I had a feeling they were about to do it, and was able to avoid it, but it's a good reminder that bike lanes are only a psychological barrier, and the occasional semi-psychotic driver, driven by traffic madness, will believe them self able to move through spaces they cannot fit. I will refer to this as 2 wheel envy, and when traffic is really bad, take caution as you pass the idling cars, sometimes drivers will despite all logical reasoning, try to fit their block into the circle hole so to speak.

1 comment:

Sirinya said...

Your story about the idiotic driver who attempted to ride down the bike lane reminds me of why my boyfriend bought me the really loud air horn for cyclists. Now I've got a bell for motorists who just need to pay a little bit of attention and the air horn for motorists who are already emitting hostility and will be wildly surprised to see I'll fight fire with fire. I should be nicer, though.