Tuesday, September 1

Great Place for a Bike Box

Probably the most important bottleneck in Charlottesville for cyclists is the intersection between McIntire Rd. and West Main St. This point is the gateway to downtown from the west and a critical transportation link between the University of Virginia and the downtown mall. 45% of cycling accidents happen at intersections, and high-volume signalized intersections are the most dangerous. It seems reasonable that a spot like this should be the primary focus of any safety improvement effort in the city.

McIntire/Main adds an extra level of unpredictability, because it is a five-way intersection. Consider the case of a cyclist traveling east on Main into the intersection (a very common occurrence) and stopping at a red alongside motor vehicles. As soon as the light turns green, automobiles may go straight or veer right onto South St. There is no way for the cyclist to gauge this in advance, and it's difficult for motorists to communicate their intentions. The X marks a potential contact point between a turning vehicle and a cyclist going straight.

Bike boxes, technically called an Advanced Stop Line, would set back the line for motor vehicles by a certain distance (recommended 5 meters) and allow cyclists to get a head start on green. Once the cyclist is in full view of motorists, especially larger trucks that have a blind spot for close-up objects beneath them, the chances of a collision are minimized.

The bike box pictured here is from Portland, Oregon.


Sean Yeager said...

This idea is used in London as well, and coupled with the bike lanes it makes bike commuting much more efficient, as there's a lane to pass stopped cars at lights. Of course, getting communities in the US to buy into preferential treatment of bikes is a tough sell.

CarFree Stupidity said...

Looks like the perfect situation for a roundabout. A roundabaout is opening to traffic here in Missoula on Thurs at Higgins/Hill/Beckwith, I'm sure you remember that spot.

Eric Orozco said...

Perfect opportunity for a Monderman "squareabout". Just make it a free for all.