Aww, C’mon…

…Really?

Riding from Newport Beach to Long Beach this past Sunday, pedaling westbound on the Coast Highway before Prospect Avenue, I was pleased to see that a large orange road construction trailer was actually up off the road where it would not pose a hazard to cyclists:

Only the squirrels are in danger here...

 

I had complained to the City’s Bicycle Safety Committee about these signal trailers blocking bike lanes in Newport Beach on several occasions, and while I had not received anything other than a “we’ll look into it” in response to my complaints, I thought that maybe the placement of this trailer on the sidewalk was the result of a new policy.

So, imagine my frustration when, on my eastbound return journey, on the opposite side of the street, while riding in this bike lane:

Bike lane stencil, PCH & Prospect

While reassured by these:

Bike lane sign 2, PCH

I ride straight into this message trailer:

What message could be so important?

 

Again, really?

The trailers are exactly opposite each other on West Coast Highway.  On the westbound side, whoever placed the trailer managed to get it up the curb to the sidewalk and out of the way of traffic. But on the eastbound side, even though there is a much wider sidewalk (possibly twice the width of the trailer), it was left on the street – completely blocking the bike lane.

How does that happen?  Wouldn’t common sense say that if the trailer can be placed out of traffic lanes, especially the bike lane, it should be? And obviously it was done on the other side of the street…so why not on both sides of the street?

Here’s what it looks like with cyclists and cars passing (apologies for the lo-res BlackBerry video):

Pretty scary, isn’t it.  Look how low the safety margins shrink because of the placement of that trailer.  Based on the volume of cyclists I saw on Pacific Coast Highway within a few miles in either direction Sunday morning, I would estimate that several hundred cyclists ranging from children to the elderly (and everyone in between) passed this trailer.

By the way, the trailer warned that there was road construction ahead, which may or may not have been a hazard, but certainly not the hazard the placement of this trailer created.

(In case anyone is wondering about the collateral issues: yes, the first cyclist legally merged from the dedicated bike lane to the outside shared lane before the dark sedan squeezed past him in the same lane; yes, the motorist failed to reduce his speed according to California’s basic speed law before unsafely passing him in the same lane; and yes, the second group of cyclists were completely within their right to be in the center of the number two lane – and therefore there is no reason they should not be side-by-side…)

All it would take to completely eliminate the hazard is to put the trailer on the sidewalk.

Comments

comments

5 Comments

  1. Comment by Richard Masoner:

    I can’t tell from the photo and video if that’s a shoulder or bike lane — different rules apply depending on what it is.

    MUTCD “Temporary Traffic Control Devices” on bicycle / pedestrian facilities applies if that’s a bike lane. http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part6/part6g.htm#section6G05

  2. Comment by David Huntsman:

    Thanks Richard. It is a marked and signed bike lane. I didn’t double back to photograph the street application and signage, but they are there from Prospect eastward. In reading the MUTCD link you provided (which I really appreciate), it looks like that section speaks to the road works itself (which is happening a bit down the road and includes a complement of cones and signs directing traffic this way and that) but not to the placement of this particular trailer. If you could guide me through the applicability of that (or another) section of the MUTCD it would be very welcome. Thanks again, David

  3. Comment by John Tzinberg:

    This area has already caused near accidents involving cyclist and cars. There is not enough warning for both cars and cyclists when approaching these obstacles.

    Also, they have used metal plates in the road that have not been adequately marked for cyclists. Already a number of cyclists have damaged wheels and almost come down when rolling over the metal plates.

  4. Comment by Matt O'Toole:

    David, thanks for documenting this. It has been bugging me for weeks, then the sign blocking the bike lane was the last straw.

    It is a bike lane, with pavement markings at Prospect plus two bike lane signs after Prospect. So there’s no excuse, no calling it a shoulder that they’re not required to keep clear, etc. But bike lane or no, creating a hazard like that is unacceptable.

    As of late this afternoon, the offending sign had been moved onto the sidewalk. But now the bike lane is blocked further down, again forcing cyclists into 40 MPH traffic.

    In that case, as your video shows, it’s not just within their right for cyclists to take the whole lane, but the correct way for them to stay safe: by forcing motorists to change lanes to pass, and prevent them from squeezing by within the same lane.

  5. Comment by David Huntsman:

    Thanks Matt. I linked your photos above AFTER Richard’s comment to show that it is in fact a marked dedicated bike lane and not a shoulder. Thanks again to Richard and John for the comments.