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Car Crashes into Bicycle Boulevard Signal

In an earlier post, I displayed some early photos of the RiverLake Greenway, the first serious effort to create a Bicycle Boulevard in Minneapolis.  One of the most innovative features of this bikeway is the pedestal-mounted actuation button located on a small median accessible to cyclists at the intersection of 40th Street and Cedar Avenue.  An important feature of this design is that vehicles are prohibited from turning onto 40th Street from Cedar Avenue.  I happened to be driving past this intersection this morning and saw this:

Riverlake Greenway Signal Smashed 1

Riverlake Greenway Signal Smashed 1 by VeloTraffic, on Flickr

RiverLake Greenway Signal Smashed 3

RiverLake Greenway Signal Smashed 3 by VeloTraffic, on Flickr

RiverLake Greenway Signal Smashed 4

RiverLake Greenway Signal Smashed 4 by VeloTraffic, on Flickr

There are a few things to notice in these photos. First, the obvious:
1. Someone has smashed into the button pedestal between the time it snowed on November 24th, and when I took the photo on November 25th.

A more important observation, however:
2. This crash is likely the result of drivers using the intersection incorrectly. At this intersection, drivers are not supposed to be making any turning movements off of Cedar Avenue. However, the tracks in the snow indicate that drivers have been making turns anyway.  Notice, for example, multiple set of tracks in the snow directly beneath the “Do Not Enter” sign.  The tracks in the snow from the vehicle that crashed into the pedestal didn’t show any signs of sliding on the snow or ice.  Rather, they look like someone was attempting to make the prohibited southbound right-turn and was surprised to find a pedestal in a place where one didn’t exist a month ago.

What could be done in response to ensure driver compliance with the intended use of the intersection?  Since this design has been in place for less than a month, it might be a little too soon to make any changes to the design.  However, here are some ideas that could be considered:

  • Do nothing and see if the number of offending vehicles decreases as residents become more acquainted with the design.
  • Use an education campaign with nearby residents (the likely offenders) to explain the purpose and intended use of the intersection design.
  • Increase enforcement to encourage compliance.
  • Expand the median slightly to the north to make the portion of the roadway intended only for bikes narrow enough that cars can’t physically fit through there.  While this is an option, I suspect this design intentionally sized the bikeway to also permit emergency vehicles.
  • Remove the signs prohibiting turns at the intersection to conform the intersection to driver expectations.  In other words, permit vehicles to make the soutbound right-turn, since they’re currently doing it anyway.

I’d like to hear what you think.  Have you driven through this intersection (correctly or incorrectly)?  Do you think the offending vehicles are unintentionally misusing the intersection, or do you think people are knowingly disregarding the signs?  What could be done to improve compliance at this intersection?

6 comments to Car Crashes into Bicycle Boulevard Signal

  • I wish I was surprised to see this. While I think that the Bicycle Boulevard is a wonderful thing, I wonder if it wasn’t unveiled a little late in the season. Hopefully after next summer drivers will be used to the idea of people riding bikes there and will understand what the closure is for. Right now they likely don’t know or care, unfortunately.

  • Holly

    I think it’s 50/50. In November I was waiting on the bike for this light, and saw a car turn into the wrong lane. When I yelled at him that he couldn’t go that way, he stopped, backed up to me, and asked what I’d said. I thought “oh boy, I’m in for it…” but when I told him I’d been trying to warn him he was going the wrong way, he very nicely said “oh….yeah…I guess so!” and got back into position. It was dark, the changes were new, I give him the benefit.

    However, this week while biking straight on 40th, the truck next to me decided to go left on Cedar at this intersection. At least he waited until I made my legal passage before making his illegal turn…But I am QUITE sure he knew exactly what the signs said, and it was broad daylight.

  • Option 6: Close Matt’s Bar so drivers aren’t as drunk when they’re turning right here. You’re right, a world without Matt’s wouldn’t be a world worth living in…

  • Tom

    I love riding, though im not where you all are at im in Va wish we have a place we could ride like you all have! Bike blvd sounds awesome.

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