Addressing bicycle/motorized vehicle right-of-way conflicts: Removing ambiguity

This Friday, June 1 the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meets 7-9 AM in the city building at the corner of Madison and 5th. On the agenda will be discussion of some citizen-submitted Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) and a topic that I am proposing the commission take up: addressing various bicycle/motorized vehicle right-of-way conflicts in Corvallis by removing ambiguity.  I will post about the former in the coming month as I rank the projects.  The commission will vote on the CIP projects in July’s meeting.

I will present this document which discusses three situations in which cyclists must merge into a motorized vehicle lane.  For example, going eastbound on Monroe crossing 5th, a cyclist must move from a bike lane to a shared lane (indicated by a sharrow); going eastbound on Jefferson crossing 5th, a cyclist must move from a bike lane to a shared lane (with no sharrow) and going westbound on Harrison approaching 9th, a cyclist in bike lane must cross a right turn lane.

Only the last situation has a recommended treatment in the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices (place “yield to bikes” signs ahead of the merge). I have found little information regarding the first two situations.  This may offer an opportunity for Corvallis to implement and study innovative treatments for reducing bicycle-car conflicts, improving the safety (perceived or realized) of such intersections and removing the most commonly cited reason (safety) for not adopting biking as a primary mode of transportation.

 Why do we need to do anything when there is no record of a crash at these intersections?  The Guidance for Implementation of the AASHTO Strategic Highway Safety Plan Volume 18: A Guide for Reducing Collisions Involving Bicycles says:

Safety concerns can significantly influence a person’s decision to bicycle for transportation or recreation. Bicyclists inherently understand that they are vulnerable road users. However, understanding bicyclist safety issues has proven difficult for engineers, planners, and facility designers. Traditionally, safety problems have been identified by analyzing police crash reports, and improvements have been made only after crashes have occurred. Such methods are not sufficient to fully understand and effectively address bicyclist safety concerns; waiting for crashes before responding with countermeasures carries a high price because many bicycle crashes tend to be severe.

One thought on “Addressing bicycle/motorized vehicle right-of-way conflicts: Removing ambiguity

  1. nancy baumeister

    I agree that action should be taken to increase safety even in the absence of a history of crashes at a particular intersection. The perception of bicyclists that they are secondary users and that cars take priority on the roads contributes to the difficulty of getting people on bikes. There should be money for projects like this because of the 1% for bikes in the highway fund. Just creating bike lanes on roads that are otherwise bike unfriendly due to high speeds or awkward intersections is not enough.

Comments are closed.