Tuesday, April 21, 2009

VDOT tries new traffic calming measure at W&OD

In a news article entitled Zig-zag lines being painted on purpose WTOP is reporting that VDOT is painting a zig-zag pattern on the road in lanes that approach the W&OD Trail.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says it's part of a safety campaign to get drivers to slow down in a high pedestrian and bicycle area. The 500 feet of zig-zagging lines are painted on the ground on Belmont Ridge Road, where it intersects with the Washington and Old Dominion trail in Loudoun County.

There are plans to also paint the crooked lines on Sterling Boulevard where it intersects with the W&OD trail.
VDOT is to be applauded for using this experimental technique for slowing traffic. It's good to see an approach to safety on the W&OD Trail that isn't aimed solely at getting bicyclists and pedestrians to stop. Motorists need to be ready to stop at these intersections where there is a great deal of ped/bike traffic, and maybe this new treatment will help.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bicycling in Jacksonville beaches

We just returned from a brief trip to Atlantic Beach, one of several small beach communities east of Jacksonville that includes Neptune Beach and Jacksonville Beach. It's a good place for bicycling with a street grid composed of low-speed residential streets and a long commercial strip parallel to the beach with bike lanes.

Bicycles are everywhere, mostly single-speed beach cruisers, almost all of which are crank forward bikes that are low to the ground with the pedals further forward than a conventional bike. People are not in a hurry and they cruise through town on their bikes. They avoid parking hassles and they get some exercise and can enjoy the mild climate.

Downtown Atlantic BeachJacksonville bicycle boulevard

Traffic calming with bike entrances

Most of the local and through traffic follows route A1A. Parallel to A1A and closer to the beach is 1st Avenue. Formerly it was a congested street with tourists and locals cruising in their cars. To calm the traffic, stop signs were placed on almost all of the cross streets and bike lanes were installed. Some streets are blocked to through traffic with entrances for bikes. This results in very slow speed and low volume traffic.

Bicyclists generally ride slowly through stop signs, and motorists accept that reality. Motorists yield to all bicycle traffic. Speeds are so slow that it works; the occasional tourist that doesn't understand this practice gradually comes to accept it. The community doesn't need to implement an Idaho stop law, it's the norm.

When we design our streets for people, people use them.

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