Tag Archives: bicyclist

A.M ‘Tour de France” at Bremerton ferry generates question

The in basket: Kelli Lambert says in an e-mail, “I am wondering about the routing of bike traffic when the bikes off-load from the ferry (in Bremerton). I drop my husband off around 7 a.m. for the 7:20 ferry, and quite often the stream of bikes (which my husband and I refer to as the ‘Tour de France’) comes riding past me very close on the driver’s side, against the one-way traffic.

“The other day they all started whizzing across First Street and a Kitsap Transit bus came awfully close to hitting one. It’s dark and congested at that time of day.

“I assume many of the bicyclists are going to the shipyard for work. What is the actual route they are supposed to take? And does the Bremerton Police enforce it at all?” she asked.

The out basket: I get many complaints of this kind, bicyclists using their smaller size and mobility to do things cars aren’t physically able to, whether it’s legal or not.

In this case, it’s not. Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police says, “Bicyclists on the roadway must obey the rules of the road, the same as a vehicle.  This includes traveling the right way on one-way streets. This has been an ongoing issue that we have tried to address and will continue to address.”

Oddly, these bikers can get away with what they are doing if they stay out of the roadway, use the sidewalk and don’t endanger any pedestrians while so doing. Permission to ride on sidewalks, cautiously, is the main exception to the rule Pete states about bicyclist’s having to obey the rules of the road.

Otherwise, they should do what cars do, go around the block to get to the shipyard in the traffic lanes.

Ditches consume possible room for bicycles and pedestrians, reader says

The in basket: Chris Olmsted thinks the city of Port Orchard could make things easier for pedestrians and bicyclists between Westbay and Retsil by filling in some ditches.

“Improvements to this scenic ride will bring in tourists, improve property values and give runners, walkers and cyclists a place to improve their fitness levels,” he said, adding, “I ride this route asking myself why are we holding on to 19th Century technology –  ditches.

“Why doesn’t the city of Port Orchard use new technology to deal with water runoff? New technology would widen the road, making it safer for all users while creating additional width for walkers.

“The current road is not safe for cyclists,” Chris said. “There is absolutely no shoulder along Bay Street to Retsil and lane widths are also narrow.  Why is right of way land on one side of the road being wasted by ditches while on the other side lifestyles are being destroyed?”

That a last was referring to the struggle the city council is going through about how to extend the existing waterfront bike and pedestrian trail from Westbay, which might involve condemning some homes.

The out basket: City Public Works Director Mark Dorsey replies, “Within the city limits, we have both roadside ditch storm water conveyance and closed system storm water conveyance (catch basins and pipe.)  Both are viable conveyance system alternatives, used where applicable.

“It is unreasonable to think that the city would initiate a program to install closed conveyance systems throughout the city for numerous reasons (tremendous cost to storm utility rate payers, unintended consequences associated with closed conveyance installation, potential outfall upgrades, water quality reduction associated with loss of vegetation, etc.)

“Roadway and shoulder widths also vary within the city,” Mark continued, “as do designated bike routes, and I concur that there are areas of the city that are very pedestrian friendly and areas that are not and choosing a route in which you are comfortable based on your level of experience is at your discretion. But I do not agree that closing in roadside ditches is the simple solution.

“With respect to your specific route, Bay Street to Retsil, the city is working diligently to complete a state-approved multi-modal pathway from downtown to Annapolis and I hope you will be pleased with the improvement once completed.

“Finally, I can say that most cyclists that I do speak to understand that it is their legal right to ride within the traveled way when needed and to follow the same rules of the road as a motorist.”

Close call with bike at 305 and Koura

The in basket: Billie Schaefer of Port Ludlow said he was recently preparing to turn right off of Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island onto Koura Road, with his signal on, when a bicyclist shot past him on the shoulder. Had he been in his turn, Billie said, it could have been another bicyclist fatality.

“He’s lucky I didn’t kill him,” he said, and asked whether he would be guilty of a crime for his part in the theoretical collision. “Isn’t he supposed to stop for me?  If I stop, I’ll get hit by traffic coming from behind.”

He then asked about the striping at the next intersection ahead, at Sportsmen’s Club Road, which is repeated at numerous intersections around urban Bainbridge. It has a designated bicycle lane separating the outside through lane from a right turn lane onto Sportsmen’s Club Road.

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger of the local State Patrol detachment says, “Bicyclists must obey all traffic laws that apply to any motorist. In the situation you describe at Koura Road, the bike must yield to a legally turning vehicle (signaling properly so the bike rider can see your intent) ahead. The bicyclist would be violating both failing to yield and overtaking and passing on the right laws.

“The situation at Sportsmen’s Club Road is not really any different,” he said. “The bike lanes there are intended to give a lane for bicyclists to both wait at the signal light and also form sort of a shoulder for bikes to travel in while crossing the intersection. They allow vehicles using the right turn lanes on either side of the intersection to avoid the very situation described at Koura Road. Vehicles must yield to the bikes, if appropriate, as they would for any other vehicle.

“Vehicles should not cross over bike lanes unless required for turning movement or travel. They must yield to any bicyclist occupying the lane when doing so.

“There is no good reason for a driver to cross over the short bike lanes on either side of the intersection at Sportsmen’s Club, other than a driver making a way-too-late decision to turn right. It would not be illegal to do so as long as the driver yielded appropriately and did the maneuver safely,” Russ said.

 

Wrong-way bicyclists in downtown Bremerton worry reader

The in basket: Dan Wages and Michael Johnson are upset about two strategies use by shipyard workers in Bremerton to get to work in the morning. We’ll discuss Dan’s first and Michael’s in the next Road Warrior.

Dan says, “Every weekday morning at about 7 a.m. I see several bicyclists coming off of the Seattle ferry ride against traffic westbound on First Street heading towards the PSNS gate.

“This looks very dangerous,” he said, “in that cars coming down Pacific, which turns into First Street, do not expect two-way traffic on a one way street. I witnessed one accident a few months ago where a bicyclist struck a vehicle turning into the Kitsap Credit Union building’s underground parking and hear drivers of cars yelling at the bicyclists reminding them that they are on a one-way street going the wrong direction.”

He wonders if what the bicyclists are doing is legal and thinks the city of Bremerton is risking a “huge liability” if one of the bikes is hit by a car.

“There is no signage telling cars to watch for traffic going against the flow on this one-way street,” he said. “Bremerton police do not issue tickets for what appears to be an illegal action.

About a dozen bicyclists do this each day, he said.

The out basket: Lt. Pete Fisher of the Bremerton police traffic division didn’t waste many words on this, saying, that bicyclists must follow the rules of the road per RCW 46.61.755, which says they must comply with all laws applied to automobiles, except that they can ride on the shoulder or sidewalk.

“Our position is that bicyclists must comply with all pertinent laws or they subject themselves to potential enforcement action,” he said.

He didn’t address whether they have written any tickets for this, but it’s clear that a bicyclist in the roadway going the wrong way is violating the law. It sounds like they can get way with it on the sidewalk if they don’t run down any pedestrians.

Agate Pass Bridge and bicycles

 

The in basket: M.S. Marimon writes to say, “My husband and I moved to Bainbridge Island over 34 years ago. At that time, the Agate Pass Bridge was posted ‘Bike Riders Must Walk Over the Bridge.’ 

“That sign disappeared long ago and many times we have had to watch carefully for bike riders that insist upon riding over the bridge. We are considerate with our driving, especially where they are no bike lanes, but it is an accident waiting to happen with the heavy commuter traffic traveling north from Bainbridge.

“What will it take to have the sign posted?” she asked. 

The out basket: Probably it would take a major shift in government and societal attitudes toward bicyclists, who have grown more numerous and politically influential in the past three decades. Increasingly, they are encouraged to serve as alternatives to automobiles, even and perhaps especially during rush hour.

But there is more direct reason for the sign’s removal at Agate Pass, says T.J. Nedrow, a transportation planner for the state and the go-to guy for bicycle issues here. 

“We would all like to better accommodate both the cyclist and the traveling motorist crossing the bridge,” he said, “To date we’ve been able to do little more than continue to analyze opportunities, provide education measures and respond to inquiries and complaints.

“We’ve stopped short of prohibiting cyclists on the roadway,” he said. “For starters, access to the sidewalks has been made difficult with recent safety improvements (made with motorists in mind).  Bridge railing safety improvements have also made it more difficult to walk the bikes across the bridge.  

“The sign that was removed stating bikes had to be walked across the bridge was unenforceable since it wasn’t codified in (state law).  

“(We) researched the possibility of constructing a cantilever shared-use path section to the bridge but found the historical nature of the bridge to trump that notion. The additional weight was a serious concern for the bridge folks, as well. Lastly, we had no funding.

“Yes, the section of highway does present challenges to the cyclists using the roadway,” he said,”but to my knowledge we’ve not had a recordable car/cyclist collision accident. And the complaints have fallen off fairly significantly.  

“One could conclude that the mixture, when it does occur is being dealt with due consideration to the bicyclists (on) the roadway. That said, the cyclist would be prudent to wear highly visible clothing, ensuring that they are seen cycling upon the roadway section on the bridge.”