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Archive for the ‘commuting’ Category

Cycling is a popular activity in Nevada, with people cycling to work, to school, for exercise, or just for pleasure. However, it is an undeniable fact that, along with pedestrians, cyclists are one of the most vulnerable groups of road users. In 2011, figures show that 677 cyclists were killed on America’s roads in accidents between bikes and motor vehicles, and a further 38,000 were injured. These alarming figures show how important it is that measures are taken to make cycling a safer activity for all concerned.

Roads no longer fit for purpose

One option for improving road safety that is receiving increasing support is the concept of Complete Streets. According to the Complete Streets Coalition, the initiative involves the development of road networks that are “safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.”

An article written for the Federal Highways Administration acknowledges that the current road network doesn’t meet this standard. It highlights the fact that roads were originally designed to ensure that motorized traffic could move through the road network as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, although this is good news for motorists, it doesn’t take into account the needs of other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians – a fact that is clearly demonstrated in the number of road casualty statistics.

Considering the needs of cyclists in road design

Local authorities and health bodies are keen to promote cycling for its health and environmental credentials; however there has not yet been a corresponding increase in investment and initiatives to facilitate this cycling and to keep cyclists safe.

Towns and cities that implement a Complete Streets policy would ensure that the road networks developed by transportation planners would always be built with all possible road users in mind and not just cars. This would mean that the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation vehicles were considered and accounted for.

Unfortunately, even the safest of roads, designed with every road safety and accident prevention measure available, will still see the occasional accident because planners can’t account for random events, or the possibility of human error. As a result, it is important that cyclists always ensure they have the appropriate level of insurance cover for their bikes. UK bicycle insurance comparison website money.co.uk advises consumers to think carefully about what they need their insurance policy to cover. Bikes can be expensive and represent a significant investment on the part of their owners, so most cyclists will want protection against the risk of theft and accidental damage. However, considering the inherent risks involved in cycling on busy roads, it may also be worth including coverage for some level of personal accident insurance, as well as third-party liability to ensure they are covered for any damage they may inadvertently cause to another road user.

Common road hazards

Evidence shows that vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians are put at risk when they use roads that don’t take into account the needs of these groups. Common hazards include a lack of safe places to cross a busy road, wait for a bus or cycle.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, there were more than 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists killed on roads in the US in 2008, and a further 120,000 injured. Figures have shown that road accidents involving pedestrians are twice as common in areas without sidewalks. Unsurprisingly, these accidents are least common on roads that have sidewalks on both sides.

Effective road safety measures

The Complete Streets philosophy doesn’t mandate the same design of road layout for all areas, but instead recognizes that the needs of road users will differ depending on where the road is. For example, a road in a rural area will have different levels of use than a road in a heavily built-up urban area. However, all roads designed to meet the Complete Streets standards will have one thing in common – finding the right balance of safety and convenience to meet the needs of all road users.

The types of measures that might be included in a road layout designed with Complete Streets in mind could include:

  • Widening roads to provide dedicated space for different users, such as cyclists, public transport and car drivers.
  • Providing regular and safe crossing points for pedestrians.
  • Better placement of bus stops.

According to the Complete Streets Coalition, a number of studies into bicyclist safety found that the inclusion of well-designed infrastructure specific to the needs of cyclists led to a reduction in the risk of cyclists crashing or sustaining an injury. For example, the inclusion of dedicated bicycle lanes was found to reduce accident rates by around 50%.

Adopting a Complete Streets philosophy needn’t be expensive or complicated, but can have a major impact on road safety, as demonstrated by the figures relating to the introduction of cycle lanes. Any investment into achieving Complete Streets that town and road planners are prepared to make will see major returns in the form of a reduction in the number of deaths and injuries on the roads. – Jennifer Knight

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bicycle loop detector

Three bills important to Nevada bicyclists are before the legislature in this 2013 legislative session. If you’re a bicyclist, a quick note to your Assembly Member or Senator, voicing your support, will make a difference when they are deciding how to vote. The first to be heard is…

AB117 – Left Turn on Red

Isn’t it frustrating to be waiting for a green arrow so you can make a left turn and you discover that the detector loop hasn’t recognized you? What do you do? If you’re like me, you wait to see if it’s going to pick you up on the next cycle. Sometimes I wiggle around to try to make it see me. Then, if I don’t get a green, I “run” the red light, violating the traffic law and risking a citation.

It turns out that motorcyclists have this problem, too. It’s not the mass of the vehicle or the weight that triggers the signal, I’ve recently learned. It’s the metal surface area and orientation of that metal that triggers the detector.

AB117 addresses those legal issues. Here is the formal title on the bill:

Title: “AN ACT relating to rules of the road; allowing a person driving a motorcycle, moped or trimobile or riding a bicycle or an electric bicycle to proceed through an intersection against a red traffic signal in certain circumstances; and providing other matters properly relating thereto.”

Essentially what it says is that it will now be legal to ride through a red left turn signal that has failed to detect you if 1) you have sat through two cycles of the light and 2) you have yielded to all of the other traffic. Probably the most important aspect of the bill is that it clarifies who is responsible in a collision. Since the bicyclist or motorcyclist riding through the red left turn signal is always required to yield to other traffic, in a collision he or she is always at fault.

AB117 will be a law that makes legal what all safe cyclists do already. That is a good thing.

Please send a note of support to the Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Transportation Committees and your representatives:

Assemblyman Richard Carrillo, Chair – Richard.Carrillo@asm.state.nv.us

Senator Mark A. Manendo, Chair – Mark.Manendo@sen.state.nv.us

Find out who represents you here – – http://mapserve1.leg.state.nv.us/whoRU/

All you need to say is something like this, “I’m a bicyclist in ____________, Nevada. I support AB117 and urge you to vote for its passage”.

Here’s another way, through the system, to express your opinion – https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/Opinions/77th2013/A/

Here’s a link to the full AB117 – http://legiscan.com/NV/text/AB117/id/741841

And here’s a link fpr advice on triggering the light – http://youtu.be/Sj-mNB6dLkk

(Next up is AB145 – Complete Streets)

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Riding with the flow of traffic

About 50% of all bicycle crashes involve falls, often caused by road surface hazards, like potholes, loose gravel, cattle guards, storm grates, etc. Another 33% involve animals, other bikes or something besides a motor vehicle. Only 17% of bicycle crashes involve motor vehicles.

Yesterday I saw 3 separate bicyclists riding against traffic on Reno’s Mill Street in a 3 minute period. No doubt they chose that side because they felt safer facing traffic or crossing Mill was inconvenient enough to keep them there. Here is a breakdown of the causes of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions, the 17% of all crashes:

Who is at fault?

Action

%

Bicyclist Wrong-way riding facing traffic

14%

Bicyclist Left turn from the right side of the road

11%

Bicyclist Failure to yield from driveway

9%

Bicyclist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Bicyclist Swerving in front of car *

5%

Total Bicyclist

47%

Motorist Left turn in front of the bicyclist

13%

Motorist Right turn in front of the bicyclist

11%

Motorist Running a stop sign or signal

8%

Motorist Opening car door into path of bicyclist

7%

Motorist Failure to yield from driveway

6%

Motorist Didn’t see the cyclist *

3%

Total Motorist

48%

Undetermined

5%

* Cyclists hit from behind are included here

It seems to me that if I avoid road surface hazards, don’t crash into another bicyclist or curb, don’t do those things on the top of the list, and look out for motorists doing the things on the bottom of the list, I can be pretty safe on my bicycle.

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Light rail is coming to Reno! Well, almost light rail. This is light rail on rubber wheels and paved roads. Kind of “light-rail-lite”.

The Washoe Country RTC is introducing an express bus service between the downtown 4th Street station and Meadowood Mall, named “RTC Rapid”. It will ride in “bus only” lanes on South Virginia Street and stop at fewer stations than the regular bus, named RTC Rapid Connect. The South Virginia corridor has the most heavily used city buses in Washoe County.

The South Virginia corridor also is heavily used by bicycle commuters. So, where do the bicyclists go if a whole lane is designated for exclusive use of RTC buses?

I talked with Sgt. Stegmaier of Reno PD yesterday. We identified 4 choices:
1. Bikes and buses share the lane
2. Bikes ride next to the curb
3. Bikes ride in a bike lane left of the bus and right of the other traffic
4. Bikes are prohibited.

Bikes riding next to the curb would conflict with the bus at every bus stop, with the bicyclist in danger of getting squeezed. The plan is to construct nicely coordinated bus stops that allow easy bus entry and exit and a bike lane there, in the few places where there is enough room, would conflict with this plan.

Bikes that ride between the bus lane and the other traffic lane would be vulnerable from both sides. A real bike lane would be required for bicyclist safety and there’s not enough room for one in big parts of the corridor.

Prohibiting bikes would be an enforcement nightmare.

So, the RTC met yesterday (7/13/11) and decided to have the “bus only” lane be a “bus and bikes, only” lane. It will soon be signed like that, I’m told.

This makes sense to me for two reasons: 1) bicyclists in general go where they find most convenient and safe, regardless of law and signage, and 2) the “bus and bikes, only” lane will be empty when not occupied by a bus. Besides, trying to control bicyclists is like herding cats so it’s safer to adapt the environment to them.

Here’s a link for more information on RTC Rapid – http://www.rtcwashoe.com/RTCRAPID/documents/RTC.RAPID_brochure.pdf

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Bike lanes are great for bicyclists and that’s were I feel the safest. But it can be frustrating when the bike lane is full of debree, construction signs and parked cars. Not to mention being surprised by a Vespa going twice my speed.

This is an amusing video sure, but it rings true.

Motorists are pretty sure that we are required to ride in a bike lane if there is one. I almost always do. But NV law has no such requirement.

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New Right Turn Signal

New Right Turn Signal

AB247 becomes Nevada law on October 1, 2009. Here’s the gist of it:

 

Legislative Counsel’s Digest:

Existing [Nevada] law provides that every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway is generally subject to the provisions of chapter 484 of NRS which apply to drivers of vehicles. (NRS 484.503) Existing law requires the driver of a vehicle to signal an intention to turn from a direct course continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled in a business or residential district and not less than the last 300 feet traveled in any other area. (NRS 484.343) Section 2 of this bill exempts the operator of a bicycle from these requirements and instead requires the operator only to signal his intention to turn at least one time, unless the bicycle is in a designated turn lane or when safe operation of the bicycle requires the operator to keep both hands on the bicycle. Existing law provides for the methods of giving signals by hand and arm. (NRS 484.347) Section 3 of this bill authorizes an operator of a bicycle to signal for a right turn by extending his right hand and arm horizontally and to the right side of the bicycle.

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Today’s question: “Do I ride through this sand and glass along the curb or pull out into the traffic in the hope of avoiding a flat tire or a nasty fall?”

Here is a list of contacts for street sweeping at each of the local jurisdictions in northern Nevada: 

 

City of Sparks: 

http://www.ci.sparks.nv.us, eBetter Place or Ron Korman, 353-2271, rkorman@cityofsparks.us

 

City of Reno:

http://www.cityofreno.com, Reno Direct, 334-4636, renodirect@cityofreno.com

or Darrel Ellis, 334-2243, ellisd@cityofreno.nv.us

Each street in the City of Reno is swept 1 time each month in accordance with air quality standards. Some streets do get a lot of debris in the curb lines and bike lanes between sweeping.

 

Washoe County:

Bill Orozsi, 348-2180, worozsi@washoecounty.us

The County sweeps all paved streets every 6 weeks, and they try to sweep special requests as they receive them.

 

NDOT:

Dave Titzel, 834-8300, dtitzel@dot.state.nv.us

All of McCarran Blvd is now maintained by the state.

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