Orange County Branch Newsletter

November 2015

Sustainability Committee

Alternative Modes of Transportation – Safer Cycling for Sustainability

By: Eric Regueiro, PE, ENV SP

Being an avid cyclist and civil engineer, I often speculate what we can do to help improve our communities’ infrastructure, boost bicycle safety, and make it more sustainable. Whenever I ride in the bike line sometimes I wonder if “today” is the day—that I get hit! There is the idea that bicycling is dangerous and a common fear is that so many things can go wrong while out on the road. With the increasing amount of cyclists on the road, we need proper infrastructures to make cycling safer and easier.

Apparently the Dutch have been building safe cycling infrastructures for years and their designs are catching on in the US. The premise is simple: if you add “protected bike lanes,” cyclists will utilize them more, resulting in increased bicycle safety, reduced traffic, and improving our community by adding a major sustainable feature.

The issue is not so much protecting the bike lane itself, but more so in dealing with automobiles and bicycles sharing an intersection. All of the different maneuvers, blind spots, speed changes, and lane changes that occur at intersections can make it very unsafe for cyclists and motorists alike.

The following link will take you to an article with a brief video animation of an innovative solution created by the City of Davis, CA to increase intersection safety for cyclists. The protected intersection at E. Covell Blvd. and J St / Cannery Ave, which will help avoid conflicts during turning movements, is a first of its kind in the United States.

 Davis intersection
(Diagram from – Davis Enterprise)

Cities similar to Davis who want to improve their communities by adding bike lines are also getting assistance from Caltrans. In accordance with the Streets and Highways Code (SHC) Section 890-892 - California Bicycle Transportation Act, projects must be designed and developed to achieve the functional commuting needs and physical safety of all bicyclists. Recent mandates from Caltrans headquarters now call for designers to incorporate bike lines when feasible in State Right-of-Way, and information on annual Caltrans funding for bicycle safety and convenience improvement projects is linked here. As more and more stakeholders are making cycling a major focus we, as a community, need to make sure these infrastructure improvement are done in a responsible and sustainable manner.

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