Tag Archives: bicycle

Bike signal at Agate Pass is new technology

The in basket: Nancy Trauth writes, “At either end of the Agate Pass Bridge there are caution signs with caution flashing lights when bicycle riders are on the bridge.  We’ve seen the lights flash with no sign of a biker on or even near the bridge.

“What sets the flashers off, how long do they stay on and why don’t bikers ride the sidewalk for that short distance?” she asked

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, explains, “The flashing signal is new technology that we’re trying out on the bridge.  It is radar-based and has three criteria that activate the lights, but basically it looks for an object traveling toward the detector at bicycle speeds.

“It is possible for a slow-moving vehicle to meet the criteria and trigger the lights. Once activated, the lights stay on for 62 seconds. Any object traveling through the detection zone that fits the programmed requirements will re-set the timer for another 62 seconds.

“We are still learning about the capabilities and limitations of the system, and have made adjustments to it to minimize false (non-bike) activations. We will continue to monitor the system to determine its effectiveness for this location,” Claudia said.

How should a bicyclist yield to a pedestrian?

The in basket: Laraine Gaulke said she was walking on the rather narrow sidewalk on Wheaton Way across from Albertson’s recently and two bicyclists in full riding gear approached her on the sidewalk. Though they were riding single file, the sidewalk was narrow enough she stepped off to let them pass, she said.

She wondered why the bikes weren’t in the street and whether it was legal for them to be on the sidewalk. I told he it was legal, but the law requires a bicyclist to yield to a pedestrian on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

She then said, “To me (that) means you stop and put your foot down on the ground and actually wait for me to pass.” I told her I’d ask what the police think of that definition.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police said it would depend on the situation. “Yield would be giving the right of way to the pedestrian. If they can do it by moving over, great. if not, they may need to dismount and allow the pedestrian to pass.” As a matter of courtesy and avoiding liability, I would think that slowing  down if you wish to stay mounted would be essential.

Diagonal breaks in Warren Avenue barrier explained

The in basket: As often as I have driven north on Warren Avenue in Bremerton from Burwell Street since the city took one northbound lane of Warren for a raised barrier, I hadn’t noticed a third break in the barrier at both Fourth and Fifth streets.

Crosswalks pass though two of the gaps at each intersection. But the third gap, running on an angle through the barrier, is a puzzlement. It doesn’t look like it adds anything to handling storm runoff.

The other day, I saw a motorcyclist drive through it during rush hour, stopping in the middle to let traffic clear so he could continue west on Fourth Street.

I asked it that is the intent and was it legal?

The out basket: No, says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city street engineers. The motorcyclist committed an infraction for which he could have been cited. But the gap IS for traffic – bicycle traffic – which can legally pass through it, Gunnar said. “It is diagonal to give additional storage space when they are stopped in the median.”

Rules are opposite for bikes and pedestrians on roadways

The in basket: Irene Olsen asks, “When walking along a road as a pedestrian, should you walk with the traffic flow or facing the oncoming traffic? And how about if you are on a bicycle?”

The out basket: This is a quick and easy one. State law requires pedestrians to walk toward oncoming traffic, so they can see an approaching danger.

The opposite is true of bicycles, which state law requires be ridden with traffic. While one might argue, as I once did, that bicyclists need to see approaching danger as much as pedestrians, the following from bicyclinginfo,org cites author Ken Kifer’s explanation as to why I was wrong.

“Turning motorists are not looking where wrong-way riders are riding, the motorist and bicyclist have limited time and little space in which to react to each others’ presence, the closing speed of a bicyclist and motorist riding head on into each other is higher than if the bicyclist and motorist were traveling in the same direction and riding with traffic decreases the number of vehicles passing you, and doesn’t bring you into conflict with bicyclists who are riding the right way with traffic.”

Uphill ride from BI ferry terminal gets bicycle-unfriendly

The in basket: Casper “Cap” Lane bicycles to and from Seattle on the Bainbridge Island ferry and finds a fairly comfortable ride up Highway 305 after disembarking in Winslow turning into a hairy competition with cars just uphill from where a bridge appears just off the shoulder, running parallel to the highway

Beyond the end of the bridge, on which he says bicycles are expected to be walked, not ridden, the shoulder pretty much disappears and bicyclists are in more danger of being hit by cars. I imagine a lot of those cars are traveling pretty fast, based on those I’ve seen leaving ferries elsewhere, especially at rush hour.

He wonders if there is any hope of extending the shoulder from the terminal all the way up to High School Road.

The out basket: There is hope, as the city is working on just that, but another spot will be done first.

K. Chris Hammer, engineering manager for the city of Bainbridge Island public works, says, “We expect to receive a State Ped-Bike program grant for Olympic Drive between Winslow Way and Harborview.” That’s down close to the ferry landing.

“The City is also pursuing grant opportunities for the ‘next mile’ of the Sound-to-Olympics trail along SR305 between Winslow Way and High School road,” Chris said. “This project would provide for a separated pathway.”

 

‘Sharrows’ are new wrinkle in bike lane identification

The in basket: Kitsap Way between Callow Avenue and Highway 3 in Bremerton has a variety of pavement markings for where bicyclists should ride, I noticed as I headed west on it.

There are short stretches of painted bike lanes, separated by stencil markings painted in the outside vehicle lane showing a bicycle with two chevrons over the cyclist’s head.

I’d seen them on Fauntleroy Avenue in Seattle after I got off the Southworth ferry the past couple of years. I wondered what the chevrons were meant to add to what clearly was a designation for where bicyclists should ride.

The out basket: The chevrons are evidently just an arbitrary design feature of what are called “sharrows,” an authorized marking under the 2009 federal Uniform Manual for Uniform Traffic Devices. It’s a play on words, I guess, melding arrows and share.

As a whole, the sharrows emphasize the need for cars and bikes to share that lane, as well as suggesting bicyclists use enough of the lane that they don’t get picked off by the driver’s side doors of parked cars whose drivers are getting out.

That’s an issue in Seattle, but there aren’t many places in Kitsap with bike lanes next to on-street parking.

“We striped areas where there was sufficient space for a bike lane,” said Gunnar Fridricksson of the Bremerton street engineers. “As you noticed, where there was not space, the sharrows were installed along with signage.”

They don’t alter the law regarding the relationship between motor vehicles and bikes (they must obey the same laws, generally). They just emphasize the Share the Road philosophy.

It occurred to me, though, that I didn’t know whether bike lanes alter that relationship – whether cars can drive in a bike lane. So I asked Trooper Russ Winger of the State Patrol here.

Russ said the term “sharrows’ was new to him, but he drove around looking at bike lanes and had this to say.

“Kitsap Way has several marked and signed bike lanes along it. The signs are black and white regulatory signs. They are also marked on the asphalt with white bike symbols.

“The roadway is of sufficient width to have a full travel lane and a bike lane. In these areas there is no reason for a vehicle to be in the bike lane. Most of the signs I observed said only ‘bike lane’ and depicted the bike symbol.

“At intersections with road ways and openings to businesses, the bike lane turned to skip lines, allowing a vehicle to cross. I would say that a vehicle traveling otherwise in the bike lane in this type of situation would be illegal, disobeying a restrictive sign to start. Infraction $124.

“This is a good example of local jurisdictions using their power to add restrictive signs and lanes to further restrict vehicle travel governed by RCW,” he said.

He also encouraged drivers to “pay more attention to the small road signs and lane markings. I learned a lot just by paying more close attention to them after you posed the question to me and I have driven and worked these roads for 24-plus years,” he said.

 

Hoofing it on McWilliams Road

The in basket: I came across a five-year-old e-mail from Scott Frisbie, who said in 2008, “McWilliams Road by Rolling Hills could really use either a walkway or bike lane.

“It seems there is always a lot of pedestrian traffic walking at the edge of or on the roadway itself as the shoulders are extremely narrow.

“I don’t imagine it’s a priority, since the sides of the road would require a fair amount of excavating to be able to widen the roadway itself,” Scott said.

The out basket: Five years haven’t changed anything for the better in this regard, though I see more pedestrians walking on the north side of McWilliams on the eastbound upgrade from Highway 303 to the residential spurs  at the top than in front of the golf course.

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works, replied, “I forwarded your note to Jim Rogers, who is putting together the Transportation Improvement Program for presentation to the (county commissioners later this year. He added your reader’s comments to the project file.” The program prioritizes road projects over the next six years.

“This is a good time to remind your readers that we always welcome suggestions for capital improvement projects,” Doug added. “They can submit ideas and learn more about the process at http://www.kitsapgov.com/pw/sixyear_tip.htm.”

In my experience, it’s rare for the county to take on a sidewalk project that isn’t part of a larger job, or required of a private developer as mitigation for adding traffic. On the other hand, bike and pedestrian lanes are very much in vogue these days, especially when seeking federal money.

Bicyclists not allowed to share lanes with cars

The in basket: Deborah Moran e-mailed me in August, to say, “I have always been told/read that bicycles have the same rights and rules as cars. Today, as my husband and I were waiting to make a left turn from Highway 305 onto Bond Road in Poulsbo, a bicyclist passed a line of cars on the left and positioned himself in front of the first car in the turn lane. We all then had to pass him as we were making our turns. He did this again while we were waiting to make a left turn onto Viking.

“Now, if we did this in our car, we would be cited, I am sure, since cars are not allowed to drive between lanes and pass on the right. So, I am wondering, did this biker commit a traffic offense also? And if not, why not.

The out basket: We last addressed this question in late 2010 when a bicyclist asked if it could be done on Lindvig Way at Viking Way, just a short distance from where Deborah saw it. A Poulsbo city officer said then that the maneuver is illegal.

State Trooper Russ Winger agrees, saying,  “Bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road that motor vehicles are subject to. They are, however,  allowed to travel on the shoulder portion on the right, and could, effectively pass stopped vehicles as the bike approaches the signal or stop sign. They cannot however, then just move off of the shoulder in front of a stopped vehicle.

“The bicyclists cannot pass on the left in the same manner, passing vehicles that are stopped and waiting to turn left or right – moving to the front of the pack so to speak.

“Bicyclists need to signal properly and obey proper traffic movement and signal devices. They do not have the ‘right of way’ by the simple fact of being a bicycle.

Bicyclists can ride two abreast, essentially sharing a lane with another bicyclist, in any lane accessible to cars, as motorcycles can, as well, Russ said. A bike is not allowed next to a motorcycle in a lane, though.

The full limitations and requirements are listed under RCWSs 46.61.750 through 46.61.790 if anyone is interested,” he added..

 

Bike incident on West Belfair Valley Road raises question

The in basket: Janet Garcia phoned me to describe something she saw on West Belfair Valley Road in Gorst one Sunday morning early in June.

She saw a group of five or six bicyclists riding ahead of her as she walked her dog on the shoulder. All but one rode near the edge line, but one was near the center line as a pickup truck approached from behind.

That cyclist held his ground and required the pickup truck driver to pull into the oncoming lane to pass. There was no oncoming car traffic. She wondered if that was legal behavior for the biker.

The out basket: Quite legal, though not the most considerate thing to do.

State law gives bicyclists “all the rights and responsibilities” accorded to motor vehicles, plus the right to ride on the shoulder or sidewalk, so that group of riders had every right to have filled the lane in which they were traveling.

It sounds like the one rider who stayed near the centerline is one of those bike riders who insist on making full use of that right, to make a point, I presume.

State records don’t confirm hazard at 303 and John Carlson Road

The in basket: Virginia Pace says she is concerned about “the increasing number of accidents. some with serious injuries, that take place at the corners of John Carlson/Fairgrounds roads and Highway 303.

“John Carlson has become a very busy and fast street,” she said. “Drivers exiting John Carlson on right turns have a large fast intersection to scope out before their turns. A pedestrian gets lost in that scope.

“I counted seven lanes on the north side of 303.  Pedestrians are taking chances in crossing that wide busy intersection. I live near (there), hear the sirens, see the skid marks, see the traffic being routed around the accidents, the broken glass, and motor liquids left on the highway.

“Can this dangerous intersection be evaluated for safety for pedestrians?” she asked. “I am suggesting blinking caution lights on the dividers between north and south lanes. The blinkers would alert drivers and pedestrians to be visually careful. And, without a doubt, there are more pedestrians and bicyclists using all intersections. I see more and more pedestrians walking up and down John Carlson.”

The out basket: State records don’t confirm what Virginia says she witnesses from her home.

Lisa Copeland of the Olympic Region of state highways, says, “In the last five years there have been no pedestrian collisions and two bike collisions at, or near the intersection.

“The first bike accident occurred at a driveway within a 100 feet of the intersection as a car emerging from a driveway hit a bike traveling on the shoulder. The bicyclist hurt his knee.

“The second occurred when a bike crossed against the signal and was struck. The bicyclist was considered at fault in the collision.”

It doesn’t sound like John Carlson/Fairgrounds and 303 stands much chance of being singled out for special pedestrian safety work.