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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Motorist in Roundabout Comments on Cyclist Losing a Shoe

A kind letter to the editor of the Coloradoan on October 22nd expresses the opinion that there may be a better or safer route for bikes through the roundabout at Vine Dr. and Taft Hill Road.

Roundabout at Taft Hill and Vine Drive (looking west on Vine).  Note how the bike lanes disappear so that cyclists are forced to decide either to take the lane as a motorist or to go onto the sidewalk as a pedestrian.

The week after we took students through here the County put up this sign to make it clear that cyclists have two choices on how to handle this. The Larimer County website has further instructions on how to negotiate a roundabout.  

To the Editor:
I am the motorist that Rick Price noted in his Monday column. I am also the motorist who was paying enough attention to wait while a boy, who had lost his shoe, stopped in the middle of the traffic circle and got off his bike to pick it up. I know that roundabout well. Cars zip around it. When it was built, I was pleased to see that it had been designed to let the bike lanes on Vine and Taft Hill flow out of the circle, around the edge on a "sidewalk" and then back on to the bike lane. If the volunteers leading the students had scouted the route, they would have noticed this safety feature and encouraged young riders - who might not think to just leave the shoe and keep moving - to use it. It might be true that the boy had a right to be in the roundabout, but there was a safer, bike-friendly alternative available.

All that said, I am glad that Rick lends his voice and knowledge to the promotion of bicycle safety in Fort Collins.

Jane Albritton

1 comment:

WMdeR said...

>Note how the bike lanes disappear >so that cyclists are forced to >decide either to take the lane as >a motorist or to go onto the >sidewalk as a pedestrian.

Dear Rick,

The bike lane treatment at the Vine and Taft roundabout is standard for such an intersection design, and has been found (in Europe) to be safer than a continuous bike lane.

A cyclist is "forced" to decide whether they want to traverse the crossing as a pedestrian or as a vehicle, as these are the two safest ways to negotiate the crossing.

A modern roundabout is designed to operate at 15-20mph, and that roundabout is no exception. Consequently, cyclists are supposed to either merge into the flow of traffic, which is moving at a reasonable speed for cyclists, or to dismount and pass the roundabout as a pedestrian using the crosswalks.

A cyclist in this case has the choice between acting as a vehicle (not a motor vehicle) or as a pedestrian.

Other treatments (a continuous outer bike lane, for example) have been tried and were found to be more likely to cause crossing conflicts.

The German roundabout design historically included this outer lane, and it was later found that cyclists were safer when they merged into the roundabout circulator, rather than having to negotiate both merging and diverging traffic as it crossed their path.

Best Regards,

William M. deRosset, PE
Fort Collins, CO
LCI 1320