Initial Microscope

This is a continuation of my notion of the “microscope” which I talk about in earlier posts.

Turning Onto Ward Road

Turning Onto Ward Road

We begin our critique with this turn.

Note, that in the photo, I just made the turn and am looking back.

When I first made this turn, I would hug the curb. This is usually a safe choice, but here note how hard it is to see around the bend.

Thus, I would go into the middle of the first lane, one of the few places I would “control the lane”.

Though the speed limit is 30 MPH, the cars would go to 50 MPH and buzz me. Worse, there was a door zone coming up.

Ward Rd: 50 MPH with Door Zone

Ward Rd: 50 MPH with Door Zone

Worse, there were people who would walk across the street, blithely without looking. Worse, there’s a parking lot on the left side where people would drive out. They, too, could not see because of the parallel parking. Thus they, too, would accelerate to 50 MPH.

Thus, I can’t ride in the “bike lane” above because people who don’t want to pay for parking are storing their cars there. I can’t ride in the door zone because people are constantly opening their doors on this stretch. Most cars ride in the right lane of the road and hug the gutter until the last second when they see the parked cars. At this point, they drive three feet or more away from the cars to allow fellow motorists to open their doors safely.

What’s a poor cyclist to do?

I actually take the LEFT lane. When traffic comes behind me, I ride really close to the middle yellow line which allows cars nearly FOUR lanes; I am so generous.

OK, let’s continue our little journey. Not that this street is roughly 600 feet or so:

Ward Road Overvie

Ward Road Overview

Note how shitty the road looks? This amazes me because I recently read about the Brasilia effect which means that a city could look good from an aerial photo but suck at the street level. This road sucks at every level of resolution beneath my microscope.

Here we are just before my next turn:

Right Before Rancho Mission Road

Right Before Rancho Mission Road

Note the problems?

The line of sight is limited. Note how cars disappear off the face of the earth as they go up the hill. These cars reappear in a few seconds and they seem to come out of nowhere. Since the area is noisy due to the nearby I-8 freeway, it’s not always easy to hear for car coming. Thus, there’s almost no time at all to react to cars which seem to materialize close by.

Also notice that since this is an intersection there is a lot of turning, passing, and crossing movements. Also, note that pedestrians routinely walk in front of someone without looking at all.

The funny thing is that these are the _same_ comments we hear about why cycle tracks suck. Guess what? That problem is everywhere, only way more sucky on the VC roads.

Extremely Dangerous Cross Ward

Extremely Dangerous Cross Ward

Here pedestrians and cyclists have to cross a four lane highway with no traffic lights and no stop sign. Note that this road is to code, and I have never heard a bicycle advocate complain of a liability issue.

The turn onto Rancho Mission Road

The turn onto Rancho Mission Road

Again, we should note the extremely bad visibility caused in part by the bus stop, but also by the hilly landscape.

Here we have people who are coming out from Rancho Mission Road and turning onto Ward Road in both directions, people on Ward Road who want to turn onto Rancho Mission Road who are coming in two directions, and people on Ward Road who want to go straight on what they believe is a small highway.

Let’s stop here and recap the “conflict points”:

1. Car doors from parallel parked cars.

2. Motorists who just parked who are mindlessly walking across the 4 lane, 50 MPH street.

3. Motorists who see a 30 MPH street with some street activity but who choose to go 50 MPH because the road looks like a small highway.

4. Cyclists who have no where to go.

5. Motorists who are turning, quickly onto a blind turn.

6. Motorists who are coming out of a parking area with low visibility due to parallel parking. These motorists are encouraged to speed to stop from being hit.

I am NOT qualified in any way to give advice on making this road better. But here are my uninformed opinions:

1. Take out a lane and turn it into a two way cycle track on both sides.

2. Remove all parallel parking because it reduces visibility and encourages jay walking which is very dangerous.

3. Lower speed limit from 30 MPH to 20 MPH.

4. Move bus stop to the same side of the street as the trolley and closer to the trolley stop. This eliminates the need for transit users to jay walk and it allows them to make easier connections to and from the trolley.

5. Improve visibility for the parking lot intersection especially as it goes over the sidewalk. Perhaps we should paint the sidewalk area where cars drive on it, red to alert pedestrians to the danger of crossing movements of cars traffic. I don’t know how to do this, but overall, I think that motorists should be forbidden from the sidewalk altogether.

6. Change the divider line from double yellow to dotted white. Even though that it’s only a single lane, people are still going want  to pass. We should force motorists into the oncoming lane to do this. This will calm traffic as motorists won’t be encouraged to change lanes without paying attention. The risk of oncoming traffic will cause motorists to be more vigilant.

7. At the intersection of Ward and Rancho Mission Road, add a signal which changes by a timer. This will discourage motorists racing to “catch a light” which will make them safer. Also pedestrians and cyclists won’t have to press a button, position their bicycle in a magical place for an indeterminate time, or some other humiliating incantation to actually be allowed the awesome privilege of crossing a street.

8. The street should be flattened to reduce sight distance, but also to make it more walkable for the elderly and to make cycling more convenient.

9. Because it empties into a cul-de-sac, Rancho Mission Road only serves two legitimate purposes: access to Qualcomm Stadium and access to the nearby housing project. Thus, unless there is a game, the road should be closed to non-residents since there is no purpose for non-residents to be on this road. Most motorists who find themselves on this road become frustrated by the cul-de-sac. Merely discouraging people from going down this road will save lots of people’s resources. It’s like finding free time and petrol beneath the cushions in the house of traffic planning.

Not only will this be safer, but this design will save tax dollars in the long run as there will be half as much road to repair. With less cars on the road, it will be damaged less often as well.

Finally, with less traffic the people who live nearby as well as 24 Fitness enthusiasts will walk and run on this road more often. The poor car commuters and parallel parkers will gnash their teeth for a short time. Then they will find other places to get to the dentists to fix their teeth. Ultimately, you might find them taking the trolley to the area just to enjoy the peace and quiet.

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