At intersections, some motor vehicle drivers offer to let bicyclists go first, even though it is not the bicyclist’s turn. To the driver, this may seem like a nice gesture, but it is often not taken that way by bicyclists. Intersections are about taking turns, and about right-of-way rules. At a signalized intersection, the signal […]

Trash cans in bike lanes are epidemic, and are a public danger hazard to bicyclists. Placing a trash can, or anything else, in a bike lane is a violation of California Vehicle Code (CVC):

21211 (b) No person may place or park any bicycle, vehicle, or any other object upon any bikeway or bicycle path or trail, as specified in subdivision (a), which impedes or blocks the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist unless the placement or parking is necessary for safe operation or is otherwise in compliance with the law.

bike-lane-trash-cansSome people misunderstand where to place their trash cans, but most people know and don’t care – I’ve had extensive conversations with many such people – they don’t think that my right to the bike lane supersedes their right to put their trash can wherever they damned well please. The photo at right is on Tupelo Drive in Citrus Heights, trash cans placed directly in a marked bike lane. Notice that it would have been easy to place them in the parking “lane” instead, but the residents chose not to. This is not just a Citrus Heights problem, this photo could as well be any street anywhere in the region.

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An article in the Sacramento Bee today by Tony Bizjak (Back-Seat Driver), Lawmaker challenges California’s $500 fine for right-turn violations, talks about the infraction of not stopping on red before turning right, and whether the fine is appropriate. The article invited people to comment. I’ve written several times about what I think about stop signs, so what I’m writing here is just about traffic signals.

My first reaction is that the people favoring lower fines, or no fines at all, for this infraction are the many of the same people who go ballistic when a bicyclist rolls through a stop sign. This is part of a typical attitude that the things I do on the road are OK, but what other people do endangers me and the social order, and they should be treated harshly. This attitude does not recognize that laws are (theoretically) in place to reduce wrong behavior and not solely for the purpose of punishment.

California Vehicle Code (CVC) 21453 says:

(a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).
(b) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver, after stopping as required by subdivision (a), facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right, or turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. A driver making that turn shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any vehicle that has approached or is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard to the driver, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that vehicle until the driver can proceed with reasonable safety.

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The new protected intersection in Davis, the first in the United States to open, has been in the news recently (#Damien Talks Episode 13 – The Davis Planning Department on the Bike Protected Intersection (Streetsblog), This California city just built the country’s first protected intersection for bikes (Vox), It Just Works: Davis Quietly Debuts America’s First Protected Intersection (Streetsblog), Davis Dutch intersection, first ever in U.S., unveiled with no drama (Davis Enterprise), and others). Though it did not initiate the movement towards protected intersections, which have long existed in some form in Europe, Nick Falbo’s Protected Intersection video has popularized the idea in the United States.

Yesterday I spent about an hour looking at the intersection. It was mid-day, so lightly used by bicyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles. I might have a different impression at a different time of day. I was on my knee scooter, my current method of getting around, so acting as a pedestrian and not a bicyclist. The design is at the intersection of Covell Blvd and J Street/Cannery Row, on the north side of Davis. The intersection was revised because of the major new development north of Covell, The Cannery, which has recently opened but is still being developed. Some photos are on Flickr.

intersection diagram, from Davis Enterprise

intersection diagram, from Davis Enterprise

With one exception (below), the intersection worked just fine for all modes. Most bicyclists were on Covell headed east or west, and they used the on-street bike lanes. I saw one person use the ramp up to sidewalk and back down, and one bicyclist use the design to turn left from Covell westbound to J southbound. No issues. I also saw a number of pedestrians crossing in various directions. No issues. The signal cycle is slower than it probably needs to be, but, again, that might be different during commute times.

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This post complements my recent post on pedestrian collisions in Sacramento. Please see that post for details about data sources (SWITRS GIS Map in TIMS) and mapping.

The collisions mapped are:

  • Date: 01-01-2004 to 12-31-2012
  • Location: City of Sacramento only (no, I can’t explain why some are outside the city)
  • Victim role: Bicyclist
  • Victim degree of injury: Killed or Severe Injury
  • 143 collisions (the pedestrian collisions were 388)

The overall number of bicyclist collisions in the killed or severe injury category over this nine year period is low enough that patterns may not accurately represent hazardous roadways since a small number of collisions can significantly change the pattern.

The first map, a point map of the entire city, shows:

  • the greatest density of collisions is in downtown/midtown, but there are certainly plenty in other areas
  • almost all collisions happen at intersections, not mid-block
  • almost all collisions are associated with major streets, called arterials and collectors, which are wide and high speed, intended to move motor vehicle traffic at speed rather than provide for multi-modal transportation
bicyclist collisions, City of Sacramento, killed or severe injury

bicyclist collisions, City of Sacramento, killed or severe injury

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The City of Rancho Cordova was awarded bronze level status in the League of American Bicyclist’s Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) program. Rancho is the first of the communities within the new Bicycle Friendly 50 effort, though Folsom had earlier achieved silver status. The Bicycle Friendly 50 group, including 50 Corridor TMA and the city hosted two […]

The Bicycle Detector Pavement Marking (CA-MUTCD Figure 9C-7, shown at right) is placed to show a bicyclist where to stop so that they can trigger a traffic signal. When installed properly, they prevent the all-too-common scenario where bicyclists cannot trigger signals and must either cross against the red light when a safe gap is available, or wait until […]