ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
I’d been holding off on this post because I had a question I wanted to ask the police, and I was waiting for a call back from the EPD traffic sergeant. I never got the call. But that’s OK. I won’t take it personally. I know they’ve been crazy-busy pulling over Cliff Harris.
So we’ll just go ahead. What we want to do is take a closer look at the intersection known as Hilyard meets Broadway. This is where a cyclist was brushed by an SUV in April, if you recall that post? Well, it’s time we officially enshrine this crossroads in our “Meanest Streets” Hall of Infamy.
I’m not a traffic engineer, but I do like shooting spit wads at those who are. And I do have some theories about the design of roadways:
Both of these symptoms are present at Hilyard and Broadway.
First, the traffic signs. Here is a 30-second musical interlude, showing some of the many signs that can be found at this intersection:
(I’m learning to use iMovie, so you guys are going to have to bear with me until the infatuation passes.) And you know, I love this song, which was a hit in 1971. But I just now learned that it was recorded by some group called the Five Man Electrical Band. (Who?)
Continuing on the topic of signs, here’s Hilyard about 100 yards north of the intersection proper:
“HEY, WATCH OUT FOR THE FUCKING PEDESTRIANS!!!!”
The project was a little over budget, though, so we ended up with this instead. I’m thinking: If it’s necessary to erect six signs warning of a pedestrian crossing (and there’s actually a seventh just outside the frame of the photograph), that may be a “sign” this is a perilous place to be a pedestrian.
But let’s get back to Hilyard-and-Broadway itself. If you remember from the earlier post about the cyclist getting hit: The problem, when heading north on Hilyard, is that the bike lane ends and the road narrows. So what is a cyclist to do heading through the intersection?
I see three options:
Option A: You can stay “as far to the right as practicable” — or even more so:
Option B: You can use the crosswalk:
Option C: You can “take the lane“:
All three options have their pros and cons. Here’s a photo showing two cyclists, one using Option A, one using Option B:
For the cyclist using the “stay right” method, the worst stretch of road is just north of the intersection. The cyclist using the sidewalk might seem in a better place. Of course, Option B has its own hazards:
And we’ve already discussed the hazards of taking the lane. — i.e., getting hit by an angry motorist.
Frankly, I don’t have the energy right now to talk about the improvisations involved in heading south through this intersection, so we’ll leave it at that.
But what I wanted to ask the traffic sergeant was: Which method would he recommend? And if a cyclist were “taking the lane,” and the sergeant was in his cruiser right behind the cyclist, what would he do? Would he cite the cyclist? Or think it was OK?
If you ask me, I say, yes, it’s legal to take the lane through the whole intersection if you want. So, should an officer pull you over and start to cite you for that, tell the officer — politely, of course — that I said taking the lane here was OK. That should get you off the hook.
(UPDATE: I finally did talk to the traffic sergeant. His take is here.)
Finally, the point of the “Eugene’s Meanest Streets” series is not simply to point out places that are bad for riding a bike. There are lots of those — and probably should be in a society in which most people get around by automobile. To earn a “Meanest Streets” medallion, a particular street or intersection has to be a bad place to ride a bike and yet one that’s not easily avoided by a cyclist.
For now, if you are heading from the west side of campus to the Riverbank Trail, this intersection is likely on your route. It’s hard to believe this intersection was torn up and rebuilt a couple of years ago, with so little regard for a cyclist heading to the trail.
But — as with the reintroduction of endangered wolves in Idaho — we hope Broadway and Hilyard can someday be delisted.
That day may come when the Alder Street cycle track is finished later this summer. This project, just now getting under construction, will offer a new connection to the Riverbank Trail. One hopes that Alder Street, one block east of Hilyard, will be a far better way for a cyclist to get from the west-campus neighborhood to the Riverbank Trail.