Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lofty Goals

This is Cedar St at about 12th ave. These pictures are very good at illustrating why we need a culture shift in the engineering/public works department.

You can see in these pictures that the street is being repaved. For the majority of this repaving project, the bike lane is not being repaved. It is distinctly left out of most of the work here.

Anyone who bombs down Cedar/Maple on a regular basis knows how bad this stretch is. Going north from about 14th to 8th you are at speed (it's down hill). As you can see from the picture above, the bike lane is made up of many layers of asphalt, some finished/feathered better than other layers. In the rain or in the dark/dusk hitting these these variances at 30 mph or so can take you down if you are hitting them incorrectly.

The good news is that they covered that huge dip created by the man hole cover in this stretch. But the bad news is that they didn't extend the nice new pavement to cover all of the variable levels in the bike lanes throughout this section.

These are the kind of decisions that are made "on the ground" or by the engineering department without oversight. This is hard stuff to codify and is a good example of why we really need to have a different way of thinking in these departments.

Engineers that actually cycled for utility would see this kind of stuff immediately. An enlightened public works department would encourage such engineers to bring this kind of issue up and evaluate the cost/benefit to resurfacing the lanes.

We (BAB) are making progress in getting in on more of the decision making at the project level for street work, but stuff like this, where it's really up to the discretion of the project manager and engineers on the ground to make a call, requires a shift in institutional thinking: away from the "move as many cars as fast as possible" approach to "engineering." It requires real leadership at the highest levels of the engineering and public works to value all modes of transportation.


FBC Spokane said...

Fight the good fight John. In the past I chose not to go that way due to the bad pavement and was excited to learn that they were resurfacing it. Oh well, guess I'll stick to Bernard.

lazyeye said...

That manhole cover has nearly killed me several times. Good to know it is gone. I don't ride that route too often anymore, but when I do I ride in the lane. I'd rather piss off a driver than die.

John Speare said...

Lazyeye: good point. That's one of the things I thought of after i posted this. I almost never use the bike lane on this stretch. I ususally get into the bike lane on the curve below 10th or so -- since the bike lane is in better shape tehre than the road (or was). However, exiting the bike lane on either 9th or 10th into the intersection is rough. I wonder if they paved that over. It was almost as bad as the man hole cover.

Peter W. said...

The real hazard of this section, in my opinion, is for the relatively inexperienced bicycle commuter or rider who ventures down this section for the first time. Is there an individual with the city that you would recommend those of us who are concerned about this to write or contact?

Tarik Saleh said...

Maddening isn't it. Many of the best local roads to ride are newly paved up to the white line and not afterwards, often with a short dropoff between the new pavement and old. I think it is a money saving effort.

taylor said...

Same here. I've always stayed out of the bike lane coming down the hill for the same reasons. I was lucky enough never to be surprised by the man hole, but that curve was pretty damn rough.

bleckb said...

I ride this route regularly, but only uphill, never down, but that's because of where I live, on Bernard. I've been paying attention to this job, as has John, and it's encouraging that such a crappy bit of road is getting fixed up so cars and bikes alike don't have to dodge ruts and potholes.

But the bike lane has been neglected in a number of places and it doesn't seem like it would be that much work to grind to the curb and lay new asphalt. maybe it has to do with the width covered in each grind, and getting the bike lane covered would require another pass. I don't know. I guess we need to ask about this. Sure, it would raise the price of the project by X% for more grind time and more asphalt, but a lot of us would sure appreciate it.

Schrauf said...

It's definitely easy for experienced riders to take the lane as necessary to avoid hazards, but this so-called street improvement "style" does not do much to encourage new cyclists.

Tomas said...

I "bomb down" Cedar everyday to work. I have seen cars avoid that killer manhole. At least that has been repaired. I never use that dirty, poorly surfaced bike lane- even though I fought hard to get it in place. If I am going 30mph -or close to it I take the lane. I was stunned that the city didn't do a curb to curb resurface. Thanks for fighting the good fight John. I know that it is an uphill battle with no one to thank you at the top.

BiketoWork Barb said...

I forwarded this to a friend who works in the Public Works Dept. so they'd be aware of the discussion. Hope it helps.

I used to live at 13th & Cedar (the big Spanish-style house). When I went downhill to work, I didn't curve west on Maple with the bike lane. I stayed on Cedar because the cross streets all have stop signs and it's a lot quieter.

You have to watch for drivers making rolling stops but it's better than wrestling the traffic on Maple. At the bottom it curves around onto that Freeway Ave. that's sort of 4th, and you can duck under the freeway or keep going east on a relatively low-traffic street.