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:
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:
While reassured by these:
I ride straight into this message trailer:
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.