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 […]

I often wonder if governments really focus on the issues rather than responding to incidents. In the case of pedestrians and the City of Sacramento, is the city really placing its attention, and its dollars, where they need to be to enhance the safety of pedestrians? I’ve created some maps to show where the problems lie (see note at bottom about data sources and how these were created).

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: Pedestrian
  • Victim degree of injury: Killed or Severe Injury
  • 388 collisions
  • ArcGIS link

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
pedestrian collisions, killed or severe injury

pedestrian collisions, killed or severe injury, point map

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When I posted on the North 12th Street Complete Street Project, I expressed concern about how the  cycle track to the north would transition to the bike lane to the south, and how bicyclists northbound would access the cycle track. On Wednesday I attended the project open house at City Hall. Preliminary designs presented by the […]

this bicyclist rode through a stop sign, past a right-turning car, rude and dangerous

this bicyclist rode past a right-turning car on the right side, without letting the car driver go first

I often see or hear the statement “bicyclists run stop signs all the time.” The person making the statement is not just making an observation, but trying to justify some attitude or action on their part, such as “bicyclists shouldn’t be on the road,” “bicyclists should be on the sidewalk,” “bicyclists should be thrown in jail,” “it is OK to intimidate or run over bicyclists,” or “we should not be spending any of our transportation money on bicycle facilities.”

I think that it is time for all of us to confront that statement and end its use. Yes, it is true that some to many bicyclists run stop signs. It is also true some to many motor vehicle drivers run stop signs. To refer back to my earlier posts on stop signs, stop signs are installed largely to reduce vehicle speeds and to get drivers to take turns at intersections. Bicyclists are rarely exceeding the speed limit, so that function is not served by the stop sign, nor by a bicyclist stopping. In the case of taking turns, the issue is taking turns, not the act of stopping. If a bicyclist does not stop at a stop sign, but no other vehicles are present which should go first, then the function of the stop sign to get people to take turns is intact, it has not been violated.

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Rosswood-GrandOaks_crosswalksIn the month of May I bike commuted to work in Carmichael and Citrus Heights most of the days. I had plenty of time to think about stop signs, as there are a lot of them on my regular routes. A few less, now that the county has removed some from the parkway path, but still, a lot. At most of these stop signs, there are no cars anywhere in sight, particularly at the beginning of AM and PM commute hours when I’m riding, but even at other times of day. So I started thinking, why are these stop signs here, and what are stop signs for?

Stop signs get used for these purposes:

  1. When there is a busy intersection with a more or less equal flow of vehicles on both streets. The four-way stop signs assist people in taking turns.
  2. When one street is so busy that gaps long enough to cross that street are rare.
  3. When there are visibility issues that prevent vehicle drivers to see each other.
  4. When motor vehicles are going too fast, and they need to be slowed down.

Looking at each purpose in more detail:

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