My View: When Bike Meets Car

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Watch the video above taken from my dashcam yesterday around noon at the corner of F and 2nd Streets in Davis. It’s barely a stone’s throw from the Vanguard’s downtown office. In the just over three years we have been there, I have driven through that intersection and probably a dozen like it in Davis Downtown and seen dozens of near misses.

I’ll be honest, I’m less amazed that I finally saw an accident involving a bike and a car – I’m amazed it has taken this long to witness one. One of the police officials I talked to after I witnessed this agreed.

In this case, there is no doubt the rainy conditions contributed to it. The truck is at fault here. The bicyclist kind of stumbled out of the gate and ended up trailing the car that moved through the intersection just before it, but the bike was clearly in the intersection before the truck started moving.

He’s quite fortunate that he ended up hitting the truck rather than the truck hitting him. It would have been ugly had that occurred, although the truck may have seen him in time.

I flagged down the bicyclist, who appeared to be a UC Davis student, and I told him I had the thing on video. He was unsure whose fault it was. His bike was badly damaged, at least on the wheel, but he was otherwise all right. I wasn’t going to argue with him and I wasn’t sure whose fault it was until I saw it on video.

As I have argued many times before, while Davis is a bike-friendly town, it is not well set up for bicyclists. Downtown, in particular, is a gauntlet. And I feel that way not just driving my car, but walking around downtown.

The problem is that we have set up every intersection as a four-way stop. Think about this – when I got to the intersection here, I am the second car headed southbound on F. I had already waited for two or three other cars in my direction to go through.

There is a car and truck to my left, a car in the northbound direction straight ahead, a truck on the right and probably someone behind him that we can’t see yet. A bicyclist had just come through on the other side of the street, and the bike that’s about to be hit is to my right. At this particular time there do not appear to be pedestrians, but they are the x-factor.

Pedestrians get the right of way on intersections, which means cars pausing to wait for people to cross the street, and often you start turning and someone jumps off the sidewalk almost in front of you.

My point is that it’s chaotic, cars will most of the time defer to pedestrians as they should, but sometimes they get impatient – and understandably so. Sometimes they try to jump their turn or push ahead of pedestrians.

As I said, I’m frankly amazed that we do not have more collisions – and some of that is due to the fact that people are stopped. Still, I will hear a few car-on-car collisions from my office each year.

At some point, though, a car and a bike are going to meet and it’s going to be a fatality and then we will be forced to look at the set up.

The thing about what happened yesterday is that the bicyclist obeyed the traffic laws – he didn’t run the stop sign. He tried to move out with the car alongside him, but he stumbled slightly and the truck never saw that he was coming across the street.

It is not that the truck did anything egregious, he just didn’t make sure the intersection was clear when he started to move.

But here’s the thing, it’s easy to do. You lose track of whose turn it is. I almost did it myself because I was focused on trying to intercept the bicyclist to let him know I had the crash on my dashcam. It’s really easy to miss pedestrians crossing from the left on the far corner. It’s really easy to miss pedestrians as you are focused on turning and whose turn it is with the car.

Now, most of the time, as long as you start slowly, you can stop before something happens. But this is a recipe for disaster. We pride ourselves on being a bike town, but our downtown is not well suited for bicyclists.

I always found it quite interesting during the Fifth Street debate, where those opposed to the redesign would often suggest bicyclists avoid Fifth and come down to Third. The problem is, you are asking bicyclists to navigate four-way stops from C Street through G Street.

Not only does the starting and stopping take a toll on the bicyclists and encourage them to run stop signs, but it’s not like Third Street is safe.

We need to re-think our downtown, not just from a bicycle safety standpoint, but also if we want it to be an entertainment destination regionally.

The parking issue remains a problem during peak times. I met a friend for dinner on Thursday night and he told me that he often ends up circling for ten to fifteen minutes during peak times, trying to find parking.

Driving through downtown is not a pleasant experience, especially during peak times.

I’ve often suggested we create parking on the periphery of the downtown and get people out of their cars. That could be a solution. Blocking off some streets to cars might work. I think they’ve tried one-way traffic which would at least reduce the intersections from four-way (times three with cars, bikes, and pedestrians) to two-way.

We had a parking task force, but we’ve not had similar focus on safety and multi-modal transportation downtown. It’s probably time to look at this issue more seriously.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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187 thoughts on “My View: When Bike Meets Car”

  1. sisterhood

    Sincerely hope the truck owner does the decent thing and buys the student a new, better bike. The least he could do in this situation. So happy the student was not seriously hurt. So impressed with his lack of road rage here after the incident. This actually renewed my hope for mankind.
    My new hometown has many fluorescent green, wide bike lanes. I just love them.
    “Now most of the time, as long as you start slowly…”
    It’s easy to fix bike lanes and possibly having a core downtown area with no cars. It’s harder to fix modern day society and citizens that feel a need to rush everywhere they are going.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I would have liked to have seen him a bit less conciliatory, particularly after viewing the video where it was clear that the truck was in the wrong.

      1. hpierce

        “I would have liked to have seen him a bit less conciliatory.”

        Well, you have no audio, and the bicyclist was gesticulating quite a bit.  Wonder if a finger was extended, and wonder what words were spoken.  There pretty obviously were words spoken.  I’ll bet a good lunch that those words (particularly from the bicyclist) were far from “conciliatory” and probably closed the door to any thought of making the bicyclist “whole”.  But I/we can only speculate.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I talked to him afterwards, he said that he was not sure whose fault it was, I offered to show him the video, but he wanted to let it go.

    2. South of Davis

      Sisterhood wrote:

      > Sincerely hope the truck owner does the decent

      >thing and buys the student a new, better bike. 

      If one of my kids rides his bike in to the side of your car will you buy them a new bike?

      P.S. To David:

      1. Did the Davis PD give a ticket to anyone?

      2. Why do you have a dashcam?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        Police never arrived on the scene, I sent the video to someone in the DPD to get their thoughts after the fact.

        Second question is more interesting. The basic answer is I always see stuff when I’m driving that I find interesting so when I saw last fall, a dashcam, very good quality for only $60, I said what the heck. Less than a week later I get hit by a car at Montgomery dropping off my kids. Car backed into me in the parking lot. While the cam did not show the actually impact, it showed the I had stopped moving backwards (out of my space) for a second and a half prior to being hit and that was the deciding factor in getting a settlement from the other insurance company. So my $60 dashcam got me a $3000 settlement that I’ll use at some point to get a new car. But that aside, I’ve already used the cam for a few stories and there’s always useful things that use it for.

        1. hpierce

          Would have thought insurance payment/settlement was to repair damage, not to parley into a new set of wheels.  Whatever, that’s done a lot.  Had a roommate in college who had a car worth only ~ $800.  He kept it out in “harms way” on Anderson.  Managed to have it hit 3 times in a year.  Never repaired it, just raked in the “settlements”, amounting to over 4 times what he paid for the vehicle.  Slick.

    3. hpierce

      Maybe a new front wheel and tune-up, but a “new, better bicycle” seems a tad disproportionate.  There were at least two individuals who had an opportunity to avoid the collision, based on the video.  Bicycle’s brakes may have been impaired by the wet conditions.  Yet doesn’t appear (but can’t tell) if the bicyclist tried to brake.  Pretty easy as not a lot of speed/momentum was achieved after they entered the intersection.

  2. Biddlin

    Sadly, a typical example of the skills and judgement I see exercised by drivers and bicyclists, when I visit Davis. Driver awareness seems to be a factor as does a sense of entitlement on the parts of some cyclists. I think the greater risks to cyclists and pedestrians is outside of  “downtown,” however, on the longer, less restricted streets, where I find most drivers are prone to drive well over the posted limits, “Stop” signs are viewed as advisory and texting/talking on cell phones is common. A couple of weeks ago, I witnessed a non-injury bike Vs. Prius on Oak. Both the rider and driver were apparently engaged in conversations on Bluetooth headsets at the time they collided.(yeah, I laughed.)

    ;>)/

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      In this case, the bicyclist was operating within traffic laws, the truck failed to make sure the intersection was clear before proceeding. I believe the elements but also the traffic set up played a role.

      1. hpierce

        OK… on the video it was obviously a dreary day and raining enough that the wipers were going.  Which, for a few years now, means car headlights were supposed to be on.  Bicyclist was wearing dark clothing.  Was there a light on the bike and, if so, was it on?  Could the crash been avoided if the bicyclist and his vehicle was more visible?

        It’s tough to engineer around ill-considered actions.

        1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

          If the bicyclist made any mistake–I am not sure he did because it is a bit hard to see where he is looking from behind–it might be that, when he entered the intersection, he did not keep an eye on the traffic around him, including the truck.

          An important lesson–it applies to cars, too, but especially bikes and pedestrians, because they are so much more likely to be hurt badly by cars–is to keep your head on a swivel. Look for cars that don’t seem to see you. Look out for cars suddenly backing up out of diagonal parking spots. And god forbid, if you are on foot, don’t ever look down at the ground when you are walking through a crosswalk. I see this all the time with pedestrians in Davis. They will have ear buds in and their eyes down, and they don’t look both ways to make sure that no bikes or cars are coming through. While they do have the right of way, it is just dumb to be so careless and so unaware of your surroundings.

          In this case, 100% of the legal fault was with the truck. The driver obviously did not look to his left to see that traffic had moved in advance of him. If he looked at all, it was to his right. He is just very lucky the bicyclist was not killed.

      2. zaqzaq

        The video starts with the bike n/b through the intersection.  The white truck crosses the limit line and enters the intersection as the car to your left makes a right turn and then the car opposite to you cuts the line and enters the intersection.  The white truck which had the right of way stops and the car in front of you crosses and the bike then stops at the limit line and then proceeds to enter the intersection.  The white truck that was past the limit line well before the car in front of  David entered the intersection and the bike stopped at the limit line.  The white truck had the right of way when both the car in front of David and the bike entered the intersection.  Two cars and a bike all cut in front of the white truck.  The white truck was the most cautious driver at the intersection and probably did not see the bike assuming the bike had no light. The bike also stopped at the limit line after the car in front of David started to proceed through the intersection. It appears that the truck saw the car in front of David move forward and then the bike stops at the limit line. The driver probably expected the bike to stay put while it finished moving through the intersection.  I am still not sure how the bike ran into the truck instead of stopping.

    2. hpierce

      Often collisions (agree with Darrell’s distinction between ‘collision’ and ‘accident’) are due to a basic mechanical problem.  In this case I suspect a screw and/or nut was loose behind both the handlebars and the steering wheel.  The basic law is, despite assigned right of way, everyone is expected to do avoid a collision, if they have a reasonable chance to.

      Pretty sure it wasn’t, but the crash almost looked staged.  Key words being “almost looked”.’

      1. darelldd

        You have my agreement on this post, hpierce!

        Only thing I’ll add about where the attention of the cyclist was – he may well have been focussed on some other potential danger to his left – for example the enormous Budget truck that was inching into the intersection. That would have gained some of my attention as well.

        Cyclist begins to roll. White truck is stopped on right. Budget truck is inching into the intersection from the left. It is just kinda ugly no matter how you slice it.

  3. PhilColeman

    David, your frank amazement on the frequency of “near misses” is an observation I’ve had for the entire time I’ve lived in Davis. I find myself cringing most every time I travel the core area, and deliberately avoid going there on bike when possible. This remarks come from a cyclist of a near half-century duration, and tens of thousands of miles experience in heavy urban traffic.

    With only occasional exceptions, motorists and pedestrians are uncommonly aware of cyclists in the core area. They are also exceptionally courteous towards cyclists, yielding the right-of-way even when they have it. I think Davis is better described as being “Bicycle Tolerant,” rather than, “Bike Friendly,” a remark that rankles some of my cycling colleagues.

    Solution? Not every problem has a solution, but intuitively I feel compatibility among the three forms of transportation in the Core Area is possible. The three transportation sources have historically been combative towards each other, invariably resulting in delay, failure, and frustration. Local commerce in the Core Area needs to take a greater participatory role as well.

    Remedies have been achieved and hailed, including color-coding of streets. But like all remedy efforts, the basic problem remains, and grows. Following the concept of the “critical mass” requirement before public policy becomes effective, it may, sadly, just require the loss of a human life to bring all vested parties together and become meaningful problem solvers.

    1. tj

      A solution that works well in other towns similar to Davis’ downtown is to install traffic lights at each intersection in the downtown area.   Everyone takes their turn, no more pedestrians jumping off the curbs into moving traffic.  No need to guess who is going next into the intersection.

      1. Jim Frame

        A solution that works well in other towns similar to Davis’ downtown is to install traffic lights at each intersection in the downtown area.

        Expense aside — something on the order of $150k per light, as I recall — I sure wouldn’t want to go to signalized intersections downtown.  Getting rid of the light at 3rd & F was a blessing, and I find the 4-way stops very workable, whether I’m on foot, on a bike or in a car.

  4. Tia Will

    I agree with the statement that pedestrians are the “x” factor. Pedestrians have the right of way. This is no way means that we use that right judiciously. As someone who walks downtown almost everyday I am as guilty as anyone talking on their cell or bluetooth device, not when walking alone when I am apt to be very vigilant, but when I am walking with my partner or in a group when conversation tends to be distracting. There have been a number of occasions in which I have stepped off a curb without paying attention to the entire intersection which of course is critical for everyone’s safety where there are bikes, cars, and other pedestrians all trying to assess when it is “their turn” and frequently not signaling where it is they intend to go.

    I am fully in favor of David’s suggestion for a safety and multi modal task force for this area preferably before we have a tragedy.

  5. ryankelly

    The truck didn’t wait his turn. The big truck to the left should have been next and then him.  Cars are supposed to proceed in a counter-clockwise fashion around the intersection.   This is a huge problem at every 4-way stop in town.  There is no order, so accidents are bound to happen.

    1. DT Businessman

      I beg to differ, Ryan. The white truck initiated his movement concurrently with the Mercedes exactly as the white truck should have.  The big truck was stopped BEHIND the Mercedes, i.e. the big truck was a full rotation away from being next to move into the intersection.

      The proper rotation was Mercedes AND white truck both moving east/west.  Next up were north/south sedans AND bicycle.  Then the west bound big truck.  Then south bound David.

      -Michael

  6. DT Businessman

    It’s not clear to me who caused the incident.  But it’s clear to me that David’s presentation of the facts is not in alignment with the video.  The video shows a northbound bicyclists on F Street clearing the intersection.  The two vehicles on 2nd Street, including the white truck, then rightfully begin their movements with the Mercedes successfully completing its right turn.  With the with truck already across the limit line and entering the intersection, the northbound sedan on F Street then jumps it’s turn followed by the southbound sedan, the white truck has to stop to avoid hitting the southbound sedan then begins moving forward again after the southbound sedan has cleared his bumper.  The bicyclists then enters the intersection.  There’s obviously no way of knowing whether the white truck driver ever saw the bicyclist.  Or maybe the white truck driver did, proceeded regardless, thinking the bicyclists would notice that the truck was already in the intersection and slowdown or halt.  Again, I have no way of knowing, but why doesn’t the bicyclists stop?  Does the bicyclists not see the white truck in front of him?  Or not care thinking the white truck driver will halt yet again?  Further exacerbating the issue is the bicyclists wearing all black with no lights in fairly dark conditions. Again, I’m not assigning blame. I’m merely pointing out that a number of actors were no exercising best judgement and it’s not at all clear what they were seeing or thinking as they were acting.

    PS: In my view, the Budget truck driver is the worst offender circling around the fallen bicyclists to avoid driving over him. Talk about being oblivious!

    -Michael

    1. Tia Will

      What this back and forth about who had the greater culpability points out to me is that even when sitting at home viewing the events dispassionately and repeatedly if the posters so desired, there is not universal agreement on who had the right of way. How much more likely there is to be disagreement, confusion and at times even conflict over this in real time on the road.

      For me, this is a safety issue, not an issue of convenience in finding the best parking place. That alone should be enough to prompt a serious attempt whether by a commission or city staff to come up with an attempt to design a safer multimodal approach.

      1. DT Businessman

        Tia, you missed my point entirely. A parked car is NOT creating congestion and is NOT in conflict with other modes of transportation; whereas, a car circling for parking is doing exactly that.  So yes, safety is intertwined with convenient parking.  This is a fundamental principal that the DPTF recognized and was reflected in its proposed comprehensive parking management plan.

        -Michael

    2. Michelle Millet

       But why doesn’t the bicyclists stop?  Does the bicyclists not see the white truck in front of him?  

      This was my first thought when I watched the video.  (I’m not suggesting that the truck had the right of way or that legally the bicyclist was at fault, but I don’t understand why for the sake of self-preservation he didn’t stop before hitting the truck).

      In my view, the Budget truck driver is the worst offender circling around the fallen bicyclists to avoid driving over him.

      This was my second thought.

  7. darelldd

    When did the word accident become synonymous with (a euphemism for?) traffic collision? Why not use the objective term to avoid judging  and coloring the discussion of the event? When somethings hits something else, it is always a collision. It is not always an accident.

    Next up:

    I think Davis is better described as being “Bicycle Tolerant,” rather than, “Bike Friendly,” a remark that rankles some of my cycling colleagues.

    I believe that I am one of Phil’s cycling colleagues. And as such, the phrase “Bicycle Tolerant” not only doesn’t rankle me, I don’t think that it goes down that direction nearly far enough. Before I offer up my version of a proper description (which we will not seen on an inviting sign posted on the roads leading into town) let me just say that “Tolerant” is much closer to our reality than “Friendly.”

    Now… I don’t know if I’ve ever written this publicly. I’ve said it plenty, and I stand by it as much now as I did when I first came to the realization many years ago. I’ll just trot it out here for posterity:

    If Davis is friendly to bikes, then it is having mad, passionate sex with the automobile.

    There. I said it. A bit of clarity: Our roads are designed to optimize car travel. Our laws and speeds and lane widths prioritize car travel. With some notable exceptions, our traffic signals and timing prioritize cars (over people riding bikes for sure, if not over pedestrians). Bicycling infrastructure is tucked in and around the car stuff if and when there is room for it. If there isn’t room, well, before any action is taken, we must wring our hands for months and years and worry about any imposition to the people driving cars. Cycling infrastructure often simply ends where it isn’t convenient to continue, while the automobile infrastructure is consistent, and plays the role of the very backbone of this town. Look back at some of the comments we heard before the 5th street redesign happened. Whew, OK. So there’s that. I actually quite like Phil’s accurate and concise take: Tolerant. And while his phrase *could* be posted on a sign, mine is way more fun to say and consider.

    One more reason why Phil’s word is accurate: When we approach a new dog, we might ask the owner if the dog is friendly. We aren’t asking if the dog will sit down and have a beer while discussing last night’s game. We’re asking if the dog will tolerate our approach without aggression. The more I think on this, the more I think that Phil’s word is perfect for the situation. Both situations, actually. “Will your dog tolerate me.”

    And finally (no, really, I need to go!) This is not a discussion about cars and bikes (and pedestrians). It is a discussion about the people driving cars, and the people riding bikes, and the people walking. If bicycles are running around at night without lights, it is not bicycles that are the problem. It is the people who happen to be riding them. If cars seem to be making incorrect right turns by not first pulling into the bike lane, it is not cars that are the problem, but the people driving them. If  a pedestrian mindlessly steps off the curb in front of another road user – it is a *person* causing the problem.  It is a distinction who’s time as come. We are all people who are out there trying to use the road. And on any given day, many of us use all three modes – so how are we to classify anybody? Every driver and cyclist becomes a pedestrian at some point. And almost all cyclists are also drivers. What we choose for our transportation will effect how we use the road, certainly. But we’re still the same people regardless of sitting inside a car, riding a bike, or walking on our feet. If  there’s a problem, let’s discuss the people creating the problem – not so much their choice of transportation.

    OK, that’s it. I wish I could spend more time proof-reading. Gotta run!

    1. South of Davis

      darell wrote:

      > Our roads are designed to optimize car travel.

      Do you really think that downtown Davis roads were “designed to optimize car travel”? Most days I can “run” from 1st to 5th through downtown faster than any car. I don’t think that you can call a road where a runner can go faster than a car “designed to optimize car travel”

      As most of you know I ride my bike most days when it is not raining and when traffic is heavy at the Richards undercrossing and downtown it will tale me LESS time to get from South Davis to the Library (on my road bike) (I use the Strava app on my iPhone and keep track of how long it takes to walk, run, ride and drive everywhere in town)…

      1. Barack Palin

        Good point SOD.  One can get around faster downtown on a bike and park much easier than cars.  Maybe we should look at making our downtown much more car friendly.

      2. Tia Will

        Do you really think that downtown Davis roads were “designed to optimize car travel”?”

        I think that you are confusing initial design with actual functionality under changing circumstances. I believe that the downtown streets were indeed “designed” to optimize car travel. With increasing population, we have seen very large increases in the numbers of people downtown in cars, on bikes, and on foot. The initial design is not meeting the needs of all of these people. That does not mean that this initial design was not for optimization of cars, it merely means that it is no longer either serviceable or safe for any of these modes of transportation and needs a major overhaul regardless of your preferred mode.

         

        1. South of Davis

          Rich knows more about the early days of Davisville when the “initial” roads were designed, but I believe it was before the first car came to town and people had horses…

      3. darelldd

        > Do you really think that downtown Davis roads were “designed to optimize car travel”

        Yes, I really think that. Car travel has been prioritized in almost every US city for the past 100+ years.

        You may be confusing design with current usage. (oh man – I’d typed up a big response here, and then noticed that Tia has already said it better than I did.)

         

        1. South of Davis

          > Yes, I really think that. Car travel has been prioritized in

          > almost every US city for the past 100+ years.

          The question was “designed” and the downtown streets were in place before the first car was “designed” (the California Pacific line through Davisville went in back in 1870).

          If the design of streets in Davis “favored” or “prioritized” cars so much why is it “faster” to get through downtown on a bike (and often faster on foot when there is a lot of traffic)?

        2. darelldd

          SOD – did you read  what Tia wrote on the subject? She fleshes out the point I was shooting for quite well.

          Placing flat dirt paths in a grid is not the “design” that we have today. In the horse and buggy era there were no painted lines, no parking stalls, no speed limits, no stop signs, no traffic lights. The grid is pretty much all that remains of that era. I think we just have a semantics problem here. Let’s not get hung up on the words and miss the point.

          “Design” is not where the flattop is. The design we’re talking about is the paint, the signage, the laws. The stuff that changes. The things that control modern traffic. We are talking about what we have in place to control traffic on our roads today, that grew from that initial grid pattern of flat surfaces.

          Automobile traffic is congested downtown for many reason. None of those reasons is because the roads were designed with non-automobile traffic as a priority.  One reason IS because we have so many people who insist on using an automobile for “convenience” without thinking it through very well. We have people who complain about congestion on one hand, and on the other complain about all the people on bikes getting in their way. It is an odd situation.

          Let’s look at it this way: How much of our paved surface is set aside for automobile use vs any other form of transportation? Note that this includes parking (or as I like to call it “vehicle storage.”) Parking goes hand in hand with a prioritized design.

          And finally: Cycling is faster through most towns simply because that vehicle is far better suited for that task. Using an automobile that is designed for high-speed, long range travel, and protection for the occupants for those long-distance, high-speed trips is like using a sledge hammer to install brads.

          I have my yard optimized for automatic irrigation. And there are many plants that I hand water because a watering can is the best tool for the job. The more simple tool gets the job done faster and more efficiently.

          I’m rambling now….

          Our town’s roads are (currently) designed primarily for automobile travel. We fit other modes around that as best we can. Other modes can be more efficient, regardless of the lack of priority that they’re given.

    2. Steve Tracy

      OK, just to get some supporting facts into this discussion:

      The collision data I have from the Davis Police Department and our Public Works Department shows 3,615 incidents on Davis streets for the ten year period from January 2004 through December 2013.  In the downtown area between A and the tracks, 1st and 5th, there were a total of 412 collisions in this time period, 12% of the citywide total.  Ninety-two of those downtown incidents involved people on bicycles, and twenty-five involved pedestrians.  This is a total of 127 people on foot or on bikes hit in a ten year period in our central district.  Virtually every one of those people were injured, but injury rates for occupants of the vehicles involved in those collisions are nil.

      Anyone reading this can decide for themselves if this is an acceptable collision and injury rate for people outside cars who are enjoying our central commercial and entertainment district.

      1. Michelle Millet

        This is a total of 127 people on foot or on bikes hit in a ten year period in our central district. 

        This is just the number of reported incidents correct? ( i.e. The one recorded by David yesterday would not be included in this number unless a police report was filed).

      2. darelldd

        Thank you for this, Steve. I was going to point out the same thing that Michelle did.

        It is important for all of us to remember that the crash statistics we have are ONLY the ones that have been reported. And precious few of the countless collisions I’ve witnessed in town have been reported.

  8. DT Businessman

    Why would any citizen waste their valuable time on a safety and multi-modal task force after witnessing what became of the Downtown Parking Task Force’s work? And even if some citizens chose to waste their time, why would the CC treat their work product any more seriously than the DPTF work product?  Surely the community’s resources can be better invested in endeavors for which there is an actual political will for progress.

    Furthermore, a key cause of the pedestrian,cyclist/auto conflicts is congestion caused by drivers circling for CONVENIENT parking spaces. Therefore, a key component to crafting and implementing a downtown safety a multi-modal plan is implementing an effective  downtown parking management plan.  How can one be done without the other?

    -Michael

    1. Mont Hubbard

      DT Businessman;

      Thanks for saying this. It was my first thought when David suggested “studying” this problem like we did the parking problem.

      Look what happened when twelve citizens (the DPTF) devoted nearly two years of conscientious effort to develop a thoughtful, nearly unanimous set of coherent recommendations for downtown parking.

      Nothing.

      Because Council allowed a small group of downtown businessmen and women (no slam at you DT Businessman) to torpedo the whole thing. They should be ashamed of themselves!

  9. Tia Will

    Cycling infrastructure often simply ends where it isn’t convenient to continue, while the automobile infrastructure is consistent, and plays the role of the very backbone of this town. “

    This is equally true for pedestrian infrastructure. In order to get from my home in Old East Davis without having to safely navigate two unsafe and unmarked pedestrian crossings I have to walk at least 8 blocks out of my way. Now 8 blocks is not that onerous a distance to walk on a pleasant day. However, it is the reason that I have to do this that annoys me. I have to do this because our infrastructure as currently arranged favors the least helpful and most damaging transportation mode, the automobile, over the less environmental damaging and more healthful options of biking or walking. What further annoys me is that some posters here consider this to be “progress”.

    One poster opined that every road is open to use by pedestrians, bikes and cars. What the individual failed to note is that we live in a community that is bisected by a freeway which is definitely not open to pedestrians or bikes and which has supporting infrastructure in the form of off ramps which are not safely demarcated for pedestrians or cars to cross. Thus the need for the circuitous routes designed to enhance the experience of only one group, those using their cars while either endangering or imposing upon all others.

    1. Barack Palin

      Have I missed something here?  Aren’t the car freeway overpasses also usable for pedestrians and bicycles?  But we do have at least one pedestrian and bike only overpass that cars can’t use.

      1. South of Davis

        Tia wrote:

        > two unsafe and unmarked pedestrian crossings 

        Can you let us know what you consider an “unsafe” crossing?

        Then DP wrote:

        > But we do have at least one pedestrian and bike only overpass that cars can’t use.

        Plus miles and miles of bike trails that cars and motorcycles can’t use…

        1. Tia Will

          Can you let us know what you consider an “unsafe” crossing?”

          I am happy to let you know. I consider a completely unmarked intersection of routes where there is no posted warning of likely pedestrians or bikes and no street markings to be unsafe.

          There are two such crossings to be made along my walking routes crossing from north to south sides of the freeway. One is at the Richards off ramp ( south) if I choose to use the Richards underpass. The other is at the intersections of either L and third or L and second. On the Richards route, pedestrians are invisible to cars coming off the freeway usually at significantly faster than the posted 20 mph, and exiting cars are both invisible and inaudible because of background traffic noise to pedestrians making this crossing.

          True, these can both be avoided, however, it does mean walking at least four blocks out of my way to do so by either route. Again, not a huge burden, but inexplicable to me why pedestrians and bikes should be consistently inconvenienced for those who prefer to use automobiles.

          Again, if you have doubts about my comments, please come walk with me. 

        2. hpierce

          ” I consider a completely unmarked intersection of routes where there is no posted warning of likely pedestrians or bikes and no street markings to be unsafe.”  

          WOW!  by that standard, ~97% of all street intersections in Davis are inherently unsafe!  Scary.

          Regarding L/Second, L/Third. You have some points there. Staff developed a plan for L & Third. No budget for it. Pedestrian crossings at those two locations are very low. Contact me @ hortensepierce@yahoo.com (don’t check that e-mail every day, but will do so for the next 3 days) and perhaps we can do a “walk-about” to understand what you believe to be the problems/challenges. I’ve gone thru all all the intersections you mentioned, by car, bike, and as a ped, and do not consider them inherently “unsafe”, but bikes and peds definitely need to be more alert/aware of what’s going on. Let me know.

      2. darelldd

        I guess we’ll have to define “usable.” For me, it is – would I let my kid cycle across it? And the answer for both overpasses is a big no.

        The Pelz overcrossing, and the “new” undercrossing are great facilities, for sure. In fact, in all of Davis they are my favorite cycling facilities – entirely because they allow for safe crossing of the freeways that is not allowed by Mace and Richards. These great facilities do not make Mace and Richards any more usable for people on bikes. And back-tracking to Pelz from Mace just to cross the freeway can be a significant time suck for a kid trying to ride between home and school, or to an activity.

        I get your point.

        1. dlemongello

          Certainly the more places we have where bikes and cars are separated in cases where to coexist safely is almost impossible such as where there are freeway ramps, is the way to go.  now that we have Pelz, Arboretum and Poleline, we are in pretty good shape.

          As for Tia needing something else at 2nd and L and 3rd and L, I do not get it.  Pedestrians at intersections have the legal right to cross over motor vehicles.  If that law is not honored, that is the problem, I do not know what would improve things or what it is you want. A few days ago I waited and moved farther and farther out into the street as a pedestrian at 5th and J, 5 cars would have hit me it seems if I had moved any farther out.  It is  not the infrastructure, but the drivers that are at fault.

        2. darelldd

          Proper infrastructure makes obeying the law come more naturally.

          Post 25 mph on a 15′ wide, straight street through a residential area, and you’ll be lucky to see many speeds below 35. Narrow the lane and line it with planters so it looks like a residential street instead of a freeway, and people are far more likely to drive at a more reasonable speed.

          Infrastructure can make a large impact on our actions. In fact, I am willing to claim that if we have to adjust compliance with heavy enforcement consistently, there is something wrong with either the law or the infrastructure. And I put useless stop signs into that category.

  10. Anon

    The thing about what happened yesterday is that the bicyclist obeyed the traffic laws – he didn’t run the stop sign. He tried to move out with the car alongside him, but he stumbled slightly and the truck never saw that he was coming across the street.

    I would like someone more in the know to weigh in on this, but from where I sit, I believe the bicyclist was in the wrong.  A bicycle on the road is supposed to be treated just like a vehicle.  Once the black car beside the bicyclist went into the intersection, it was then the truck’s turn to move into the intersection, not the bicyclist’s.  The bicyclist, in dark clothing, tried to “double up” with the car, didn’t make it, so jumped ahead of its turn into the intersection because by that time it was effectively behind the black car.  The truck had no way of knowing that the bicyclist was going to try and move in sync with the car, would not make it, and then would try to jump ahead.

    The real problem here is that bicycles often don’t seem to realize that when they take to the road, they are just like any other vehicle.  So when bicyclists approach an intersection, they need to wait their turn.  If the bicyclist could have ridden in tandem with the car, fine, but that is actually a dangerous move if the car decided to turn right and if there is no bike box at that intersection.

    The real solution here, IMHO, not being a traffic expert, is to put more bike boxes at downtown intersections.  Bikes would then be in front of the cars, so there would be no question who has the right of way.  And bicyclists need to be reminded to either have a flashing light on both back and front of the bikes, or wear something reflective or eye catching.  Wearing all dark clothes with no flashing light is very dangerous, especially in the rain.

    1. Matt Williams

      I would like someone more in the know to weigh in on this, but from where I sit, I believe the bicyclist was in the wrong. A bicycle on the road is supposed to be treated just like a vehicle. Once the black car beside the bicyclist went into the intersection, it was then the truck’s turn to move into the intersection, not the bicyclist’s.

      Anon’s point would be spot on if the road in question were only one lane wide. With that said, imagine the situation described relocated to a stop sign controlled traffic intersection on Mace Boulevard. Because there are two side by side lanes of automobile traffic on Mace, two side-by-side vehicles going the same direction proceed forward simultaneously during each “cycle” … a total of four vehicles per cycle when there are cars in each of the lanes going each way.

      I could be wrong, but I believe the intersection where the accident happened has two lanes going each way … an automobile lane and a bicycle lane. Therefore, each “cycle” provides for the side-by-side movement of two vehicles (one car and one bicycle) through the intersection each way (a total of four if there is a car and a bicycle queued up in each direction.

      1. Anon

        Imagine two car lanes side by side going one way, with two cars side by side stopped at a 4 way stop.  One car takes its turn but the other one chooses not to… Everyone should sit and wait until the car that wasn’t paying attention takes its turn? I think you catch my drift.  IMO the bicycle caused the accident.  But I will concede I am no traffic expert.  That is why someone with technical expertise needs to weigh in. Sometimes technical rules trump common sense.

        That said, Michelle Millet above makes another crucial point.  The bicyclist, using caution, should have been able to avoid that truck.  The truck is big and white, the bicyclist small and dark.  The bicyclist is the one that hesitated in taking his turn to cross the street.

        1. Matt Williams

          Everyone should sit and wait until the car that wasn’t paying attention takes its turn? I think you catch my drift.

          Yes I do catch your drift, and your question is a good one. My experience on Mace, where the type of hesitation situation you describe happens regularly, is that more often than not everyone does sit and wait until the hesitating car makes up its mind. Hand signals through windshields are often used to sort out the sequencing.

      2. South of Davis

        Matt wrote:

        > Because there are two side by side lanes of automobile traffic on Mace,

        > two side-by-side vehicles going the same direction proceed forward

        > simultaneously during each “cycle”

        Remember that Mace actually has FIVE (5) lanes in each direction at Chiles, Cowell and El Macero (three car lanes counting the left turn lanes and a bike lane and pedestrian “lane”.

        At Chiles and Cowell there is a traditional light with a “cycle” that lets all five lanes go at the same time (if a car in the left lane triggers the sensor and a pedestrian pushes the button for the walk signal), but at El Macero there is just a flashing light and no “cycle”.

        Unlike the guy in the video that rode in to the side of the truck most South El Macero and Willobank cyclists are smart enough to realize that there is no “cycle” at the flashing red light at El Macero and as far as I know have never plowed in to the side of a truck when heading home from Nugget…

        1. Matt Williams

          SoD, when driving north on Mace from South El Macero Drive just last week, the police and fire department were clearing just such a two-car accident.

      3. zaqzaq

        Both the car in front of David and the bike did not wait their turn when the truck had the right of way.  It would not matter  if you are right or wrong on that point.

  11. DT Businessman

    Naturally, there is disagreement if posters are analyzing different video segments.  There would be less disagreement about what transpired if everyone agreed to start their analysis of the various traffic movements from the start of the video beginning with the northbound cyclist.  Instead, a number of posters begin their analysis sometime later in the video.  

    Naturally, there is disagreement if posters are analyzing different video segments. Indeed, it is not at all clear to me why David’s analysis begins part way into the video while ignoring the beginning.

    -Michael

    1. hpierce

      Actually, pretty sure the bicyclist was south/bound, not north, but agree with the rest of what you wrote.  [note AA&T store on the left side of the path of travel]

  12. Tia Will

    Another thought on this matter. An inordinate amount of time has been spent on discussing who was at fault. How typically an American way of looking at a situation.

    Would we perhaps not be better off spending time collaborating on how to make our community safer for all involved ?

    1. hpierce

      Need to know causes, before solutions.  An elderly woman, showing severe confusion, was driving out of Oakshade Town Center a few years ago.  Based on the PD investigation, she was showing signs of mental impairment.  She died.  Saylor and the CC ordered a modifications to the median costing ~ $40 k.   Blamed the engineers for the deadly crash.  The “problem” was the family had not taken away the keys of the driver.  Same situation, today, after the “collaboration”?  Probably same result.  The intersection was not the problem.

    2. sisterhood

      If I impatiently drove my car into an intersection and caused a kid to run into my car, you can believe I would buy him a very expensive bike.

      To reply to Tía’s request for colaborative discussion, #1 widen bike paths. 2. Paint fluorescent green. 3. Close one downtown block to cars, accommodate for ADA. Evaluate in one year. Have hours of delivery posted for deliver vehicles.

       

    3. LadyNewkBahm

      Tia,

      David got the ball rolling on fault. then people posted either agreeing or disagreeing with the claim. If you don’t like the fault focus, take it up with David.

      1. Davis Progressive

        my view is that there are two essential points here.  first, whether or not the truck or bicyclist is technically at fault, i tend to think it was the truck only because the bike was clearly in the lane before the truck started moving – the bicyclist was not recklessly running/ blowing a stop sign.  second, and more important, what do we do about it.  i understand the suggestion for a committee, i under understand the reticence given the experience on parking.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Mine was just a suggestion, we don’t have to do anything. My observations from three years of daily commutes are that we are quite fortunate that we only have accidents on average once every ten days and no recent fatalities in the downtown. What we choose to do with that is up to the community and council.

          2. Matt Williams

            I’m not sure I understand what you are driving at BP. Care to steer us in the right direction?

        1. hpierce

          David… when you say it’s “up to the community”, I sincerely hope you mean “the individuals in the community”.  Did you think about the driver behind you when you stopped, presumably to get an “exclusive” with the bicyclist?  This really seems to be two individuals (maybe three, if we count you) who lacked situational awareness, not a City or community issue, per se, unless we are talikng about educating folk to be situationally aware. I repeat, I agree with Darrell, this was a “collision” not an “accident”, and can only be ‘solved’ by behavior, not policy nor laws.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            No, I meant the community in terms of what they want to do about roads in the core. There was no one behind me when I stopped – at that point I was an eyewitness to an accident with evidence and letting the bicyclist know of it. You can see on the video it wasn’t much of a stop.

      2. Tia Will

        If you don’t like the fault focus, take it up with David.”

        David is responsible for the contents of the articles he posts. We are each responsible for the trend of the conversation based on what we choose to post.

  13. DT Businessman

    Tia, that’s actually what I thought I was doing in my postings.  I addressed statements of facts not supported by the video viewed in it’s entirety. David’s misrepresentation of the facts then undermines the majority of his article and taints the subsequent dialogue. I then went on to point out that creating yet another task force is nonsensical given the CC hasn’t even adopted and implemented the DPTF comprehensive parking management plan, which would be a precursor to a safety and circulation plan.  I also pointed out that cars circulating for convenient parking places are a primary factor in exacerbating the safety and  circulation issues.  I don’t recall the exact statistic that was presented to the DPTF, but my recollection is cars circling the block in search of parking represent 40% or so of downtown traffic (my memory could be off a bit on this, but the percentage is significant).  These are all substantive points having nothing to do with who was at fault in the recorded incident. Indeed, I go out of my way to state that it’s not clear to me who is at fault.

    PS: The forgoing notwithstanding, the behavior of the Budget truck driver is atrocious.  A cyclists has smashed into a truck, is lying in the street  potentially seriously harmed, and you’re going to drive around him instead of stopping to see whether he’s in need of assistance? Jesus!  This in my mind is the far bigger story.

    -Michael

    1. Michelle Millet

      The forgoing notwithstanding, the behavior of the Budget truck driver is atrocious.

      I agree the driver of the white truck and the bicyclist both seem oblivious. The Budget truck driver appears to be the one whose actions deliberately created a dangerous situation.

  14. Michelle Millet

    David, your frank amazement on the frequency of “near misses” is an observation I’ve had for the entire time I’ve lived in Davis. I find myself cringing most every time I travel the core area, and deliberately avoid going there on bike when possible. This remarks come from a cyclist of a near half-century duration, and tens of thousands of miles experience in heavy urban traffic.

    My guess is that a lot of people share this sentiment, I definitely avoid biking downtown when I am with my kids, so in general, if I’m going to downtown with them I drive, resulting in one more car at the 4-stops, and one less available parking spot.

    Going off a comment from another poster about making downtown more car friendly. I think one way to accomplish this is by making downtown more bicycle and pedestrian friendly. The easier and safer it is for people to walk and ride their bikes downtown the more likely they are to choose that mode of transportation. This would result in fewer cars,  less congestion, and more vehicle parking, for those who by necessity or choice drive.

    I think it is a flawed assumption that making downtown more bike friendly will lead to it being less car friendly.

    1. Anon

      I would like to see more bicycle boxes downtown, but don’t know if that is feasible from an traffic engineering point of view.  Bicycle boxes put bicycles at the front of the line, so they can be seen, and clearly take first place before cars.  It makes bikes highly visible, and safer.

      1. hpierce

        Maybe… even giving the benefit of the doubt to the effectiveness of the painted “bike boxes” (which I don’t, except in limited situations – not a panacea), those boxes have no chance of remaining effectiveness if they are maintained so they are always “fresh”.  Add that to “unfunded liabilities” and let us know whether bike boxes are more important, with limited funds, to other road and societal concerns/needs.

      2. darelldd

        If ALL traffic slowed to human scale throughout town, we would not need bike boxes. We would not need bike lanes. People on bikes would not be expected to ride in the door zone of parked cars. We would not have the right-turn conflicts that we have now. We would have fewer collisions. We would have less severe injuries when collisions DID occur. It would be easier to walk across the street. We could remove a whole bunch of stop signs. And the cost to society would be a few seconds of extra travel time here and there at most. And a lot less than most fear (see 5th Street redesign for an example.

        But we won’t do this, because it would be seen as inconveniencing automobile travel. See my comment on “automobile prioritized design” above.

        To date I have had poor experiences with the bike boxes. I love the concept, but not too fond of the execution here in Davis to date. They seem to work a lot better in other cities that understood them better. And a big part of the problem is education. A lot of the people driving cars don’t seem to understand what is going on (Any why should they – I’ve not had any follow-up driver education in 35 years).  I have stopped my bike in the middle of the B-street bike boxes countless times, only to then be passed on the left by a person in a a car who wished to turn right. Amazing.

        1. dlemongello

          Dare I ask where you stand on the Dutch Junctions? Because it is practically the same thing as the bike box, and putting them along Covell of all places I believe is a big mistake. At least with a right turn pocket you know what you’re dealing with and by the time it is time to pass straight through the intersection the R turning cars are already out of the way.

        2. South of Davis

          Darell wrote:

          > If ALL traffic slowed to human scale throughout

          > town, we would not need bike boxes. We would have

          > less severe injuries when collisions DID occur.

          What does “Human Scale” mean?

          As a human I “walk” at about 4 mph, do you want cars and bikes to slow to 4 mph?

          I agree that at 4 mph we would have a LOT less “severe injuries when collisions DID occur”…

        3. darelldd

          Donna: I’m afraid that I’ll need to reserve judgement on Dutch junctions at this time. I do have some concerns. There are other options that I’d rather pursue. I do see significant differences in Dutch junctions and bike boxes, however.

          SOD: There isn’t a single speed that is human scale, just as there isn’t a single speed that is automobile scale. A human scale speed is one that can be achieved with human power using widely-available human-powered devices. The speed would generally allow human conversation and interaction. It does not reach as high as our downtown’s lower limit of (I believe) 25 mph. If I had to put a number on it, 15 mph would be a great start. This is fast enough to get places, and slow enough to avoid most serious injuries. And the calm “humanness” it would bring to the downtown would be extraordinary. Stop signs could safely be replaced with yield signs.

           

  15. Alan Miller

    I have said it before and I will say it again:

    Things got much worse when the bulb-outs were built.  Seemingly, they are pedestrian “friendly”.  In reality they pinch out bike space, and cause pedestrians to stand right by the roadway essentially “out in the street” from where they used to be, several feet back.  this extra few feet used to allow a car more time to see a pedestrian coming into the intersection, and made pedestrians look for cars leaving an opposing stop sign.  With the short jump across pavement, pedestrians often stand right by the road, turn and cross.  It seems to just be the human nature of how people react to bulb-outs.  This causes cars to then come to a stop in the middle of the intersection while the just-jumped peds cross, holding up the entire intersection and pooching the order of movement.  I never saw this behavior before the bulb-outs.  It isn’ t the only problem, but its a big part of why it got so much worse.  Those things need to be jack-hammered out of existence.

    The only error was the city council’s terrible mistake of making every intersection on third street a four-way stop, supposedly in the name of “safety”.  Absolutely atrocious traffic planning by politics.

    The downtown is a cluster-F for every mode now.

    1. Anon

      You may be right about the bulb-outs, not sure. I have heard this complaint from others.  But I totally disagree with respect to 4 way stops in downtown.  Having all intersections in downtown as 4-way stops makes it consistent, which is necessary.  Before, it was awful, because it was extremely difficult to see cars/bikes/peds coming on the part of the intersection that had no stop sign, especially if there were parked cars.  Now, at least, everyone has to stop.  4-way stop signs also slow traffic down, so cars don’t go zipping thru.  And thirdly, consistency is important, whereas before, some streets had 4-way stops and some didn’t, which made it difficult if you didn’t remember which streets had what, or were unfamiliar with downtown.  IMO things are far better w all intersections being 4-way stops.

        1. DavisBurns

          I agree. The consistency of all intersections having a four way stop is an improvement. Doesn’t bother me traffic moves slowly downtown–slower is safer.

        2. darelldd

          I hear about safety often, and I’m not really sure what it means. Does “safety” include the negative effects of extra air, water and noise pollution from constant automotive speed changes? Or is safety simply the lack of collisions?

          While stop signs might be a great way to curtail unsafe activities in which the people driving cars might other wise engage (speeding, not looking for hazards at intersections, etc), those signs also create an ugly atmosphere of “those cyclists need to stop if they want to be on the road!” Having to stop at every empty intersection, at all times of day is… annoying at best. Having to stop when there is no safety reason to do so, dilutes the message of a stop sign. The more signs we have, the more diluted the message. And when a law makes little logical or practical sense to a given vehicle choice (at least at certain times and in certain locations) no amount of enforcement is going to permanently affect compliance. Here we again see the design of our roads predicated on automobile use, and we expect all road users to pound their square peg into that round hole. Extra stop signs used to slow cars are akin to speed bumps, really. Those things are plunked down to slow the speeders. And the people riding bikes who effectively never break the speed limit, and have no suspension on their vehicles – are asked to suffer the same punishment of driving over them.

          I’m probably not explaining this well. Allow me to keep thinking out loud here a bit…

          Many people who do not ride a bike feel that all cyclists should stop at every stop sign regardless of the situation – often for no other reason than “it is the law.” These non-cyclists feel that they themselves are compelled to stop, so the people riding bikes must also stop – or it is not fair. There is no concession given to the significant practical and physical differences in the vehicle choice.  And then we add more stop signs, and create more ways for the people riding bikes to learn that not every stop sign is there for safety and convenience of all road users.

          If we are using stop signs (or speed bumps) to keep traffic down to a reasonable speed, we have failed at proper road design. If massive enforcement crackdowns is the only way to achieve compliance with traffic laws, we have failed at proper road design. And really – that’s where we are.

          Oh man. I probably shouldn’t hit the post button on this one. I can already feel the heat.

      1. Alan Miller

        “some streets had 4-way stops and some didn’t, which made it difficult if you didn’t remember which streets had what”

        If you don’t remember, look to see if there are four stop signs or two stop signs, like anywhere else.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I remember driving down Second St before all the streets were four way stops and at C and Second, it seemed like cars would simply stop at the intersection even though there was no stop sign and other cars would assume it was a four way stop and come through in front of oncoming traffic – it was a problem and quite dangerous especially at night.

    2. Jim Frame

      Things got much worse when the bulb-outs were built.

      In my opinion, things got much better after the bulb-outs were built, and especially after 4-way stops were implemented at all downtown intersections.  I go through downtown — and particularly on 3rd Street — pretty much daily.  I’m on foot most of the time, in a full-size pickup several times a week, and on a bike occasionally.  I believe the bulbouts tend to focus the drivers’ attention by making the streets seem narrower, and that’s a plus for both bikes and peds.

  16. Counterpoint

    I wish I could view about 15 seconds prior to the start of the video to see whose turn it really was.  It appears as if it may have been the truck’s turn to go.

    At the start of the video, you can can see a bicycle coming towards the camera (heading North), implying to me that it would be the cross traffic’s turn next.  ie,, it was the truck’s turn to go.  The car in front of the camera, however, may disagree, because you see he may have missed his turn due to the pedestrian who had crossed in front of him at the start of the video.

    Perhaps the biggest error here is by the car headed North (towards the camera).  It seems clear to me that it was NOT his turn because the bike (also headed North) had already gone before him.  The Camry, as well as the cyclist (the one who was hit, headed South), were about to wait for the truck and you can see the truck start to go when the North-bound guy cuts off the truck and the truck slams on his brakes.

    It seems that the Camry and the cyclist notice the North-bound car going, as well as the truck stopping, and decide to go with the flow.  Probably getting impatient, the truck goes as soon as the Camry has cleared, not noticing the bike piggybacking on the Camry.

    To be fair, the truck should not have lost patience and should have noticed the bike.  However, the bike does not seem to have a headlight in the rain, and actually neither does the truck.  This is an important point that i think cannot be neglected in determining fault (and how to help avoid being involved in an accident like this).

    If I had to make a ruling on just this video alone, I’d assign 50/50 fault to the truck and the cyclist.  Make the truck driver pay for half the damages to the bike (assuming that the truck did not sustain damages).  Maybe 50/50 isn’t quite perfect.  However, claiming that the truck driver should pay for 100% of a brand new better bike is totally overkill, in my opinion.

    To be fair to the Budget truck guy, the biker was not actually laying in the street when he passed.  The biker got back up to his feet quickly, the Budget guy had slowed down, and it looks like he made the decision not to block the intersection.  For all I know, the Budget guy may have stopped off-camera to see if any help was needed.

    Downtown is totally chaotic, whether you’re a pedestrian, a bike or a car.  I’ve almost been hit on my bike after waiting for my turn, going, and then a car not seeing me until nearly hitting me.  Yesterday while being a pedestrian, I was almost hit in the rain when a car rolled right into the crosswalk without stopping at the line.  It seemed as though she was just planning to roll right through, despite the fact that it was pouring rain and visibility was low:  a California stop, in the rain, in busy downtown Davis in the dark when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk.  I almost got hit again in the same intersection on my way back to my car later.

    To be fair to drivers, I’ve noticed that some pedestrians tend to just dart into the crosswalk out of nowhere, against traffic, after a car has already started to go, so I try to be mindful not to be that guy when I’m on foot.  Bottom line is whatever the method of travel, people just don’t pay enough attention, and aren’t careful enough.

    Thank you for sharing the video and the writeup, and watching out for your fellow humans.  You’re totally right that it’s easy to screw up due to the chaos.

    1. Michelle Millet

      To be fair to the Budget truck guy, the biker was not actually laying in the street when he passed.  The biker got back up to his feet quickly, the Budget guy had slowed down, and it looks like he made the decision not to block the intersection.  For all I know, the Budget guy may have stopped off-camera to see if any help was needed.

      I don’t fault the budget driver for not stopping to check on the bicyclist, I do fault him for entering the intersection AFTER the collision occurred and BEFORE the bike rider was able to get out of the middle of the road.

      1. Counterpoint

        Fair point.  Though, it looks like the Budget guy starts forward at approximately the same instant as the bike collided with the truck.  So the Budget driver may not have noticed there was even an accident until it was too late to stay out of the intersection.  Or, perhaps he did see what happened and made a poor decision anyway.  If that’s the case, shame on him.

        1. Michelle Millet

          The driver swerves almost immediately indicating he/she saw the collision. I will concede that it easy to get flustered in this situation and make a bad decision.

        2. Counterpoint

          You could be right.  I thought so the first time I watched it too.  When I watched it again, it appears that it could be some curvature caused by the camera.  Looks like the truck is lower in the screen when he’s in the middle of the intersection and higher before and after the intersection.  It looks the same to me with the SUV that follows the Budget truck, making me think there’s an illusion going on, but hard to tell for sure.

  17. dlemongello

    No Michael Bisch, you are not correct, the bike started out first and the  truck pulled out right in front of him and it was wet so his brakes did not work as well as in dry weather that is likely why he did not stop Michele.

    1. Michelle Millet

      It looks like he continues to pedal forward even after the truck starting moving. It is almost like he didn’t see the truck until just before he collided with it. My guess is that the truck didn’t see him either.

      1. Matt Williams

        Although it is impossible to determine with absolute certainty zaqzaq, but to my eyes with their 67 years of experience, the white truck does not appear to have entered the intersection with its initial eastward movement. It appears to have stopped with forward progress that is no further than entering, but not crossing the pedestrian crosswalk, with its front bumper.

  18. zaqzaq

    I do not believe that pedestrians have the right of way in all instances.  For example if a car has entered the intersection the pedestrian does not  have the right of way to then enter the cross walk in front of that car.

    1. Matt Williams

      zaqzaq, (1) the shaded red area in the graphic below represents the intersection as conventionally defined by limit lines in California and most other states (Note: the dashed box is the recently changed definition in Arizona and many other states) and (2) the legal definition of entering an intersection is when the vehicle’s front tires cross the intersection limit line. From the video the truck’s front bumper clearly is in pedestrian crosswalk, which is inside the outer limit of the red shaded area, but it is also not clear whether the truck’s front tires are in the crosswalk.
      .

      .
      On the other hand, when the white truck resumes moving after coming to a full stop, there is no question that the bicycle is in the intersection … deep in the intersection.

      With that said, if a car is in the intersection, you are correct about the pedestrians having to yield right of way to that car before stepping off the curb into the crosswalk.

      1. zaqzaq

        Matt,

        When you look at the location of the stop sign which is located where the limit line is also located you can clearly tell that the truck had entered the intersection prior to the bike and thus had the right of way.

        1. Matt Williams

          zaqzaq, it had the right of way until it chose to come to a full stop and stay stopped. When it did that, it ceded the right of way to the vehicles in the north-south lanes.

    2. hpierce

      True story… pedestrians have right of way, when they arrive first AND IT IS SAFE TO ENTER… goes to an earlier point that all users have a basic responsibility to avoid collisions.  Old TV ad by the Nat’l Safety Council had a commercial showing two motorists entering the intersection.  Driver A had the right of way.  Driver  B was an idiot.  The ad said (paraphrase) “Driver A was right.  Dead right.”  The ad is probably 50 years old, but still ‘spot on’.

    3. darelldd

      You are correct. I’ve wanted to point that out a few times, but kept getting side-tracked. People on foot are not allowed by law to just jump out into traffic whenever they feel like it – and expect all other users to avoid them. However, people on foot are also not required by law to stop at a stop-signed intersection. This one has always fascinated me – a pedestrian can legally run down the sidewalk and cross an empty stop-signed intersection. But roll through that same intersection at half that speed on a bicycle, and you’ve broken the law.

      Oh, and we have J-walking laws. People on foot are supposed to stay out of the street except at the corners.. and maybe when getting out of their cars. So while people on foot generally have the most protection – we’d sure like to keep them out of the way of automobiles as much as possible.

      It turns out that sometimes we DO make laws relative to the transportation mode. Other times (most times) not so much. In general, we makes the laws relative to automobile travel, and expect the other modes to abide by the same laws.

  19. odd man out

    Anon wrote: “I would like to see more bicycle boxes downtown, but don’t know if that is feasible from an traffic engineering point of view.  Bicycle boxes put bicycles at the front of the line, so they can be seen, and clearly take first place before cars.  It makes bikes highly visible, and safer.”

    Bike boxes may only be installed at signalized intersections. No one may turn right on a red light at a “bike boxed” intersection. You can see the “no right turn on red” signs at our new bike boxes downtown. I understand the need for this, but for one whose daily commute home (for over 30 years) from UCD usually takes me (always bicycling) north on A St. to continue either north on A or right on Russell, it’s frustrating to have to wait for a green light when previously I could stop and turn right on red.  I guess the bike boxes are liked by novice cyclists, but I have yet to see where they provide me any advantage, safety or otherwise.

    1. darelldd

      The “no right on red” thing has been discussed before, and the irony is that the sign is supposed to ONLY be for the drivers of automobiles. But… because we’re all supposed to follow the same “rules of the road” we end up inconveniencing the people riding bikes by “protecting” them in this way. And if bikes and cars are the same, why can bikes stop in the green box and cars cannot? And if we have that difference, why can’t the people on bikes turn while the people in cars wait?

      Oh, the humanity.

      It is time to decouple the laws. Bikes and cars are wildly different. Why do we try to pretend that they’re the same on the road? Why are people in wheel chairs, and people on skateboards considered pedestrians, while bikes are considered to be the same as cars?

      It makes.

      No.

      Sense.

      1. Don Shor

        Perhaps it has to do with the numbers. If there were thousands of people in wheelchairs or on skateboards traversing our roads and sidewalks, we might wish to regulate their practices.

        I was a pedestrian on campus when I was a student, and I can assure you that crossing a road against thousands of bicycles was challenging and dangerous.

        1. darelldd

          I’m wondering… if regulation had to do with numbers, why are bikes regulated like cars in areas that have maybe one bike on the road for every 10,000 cars? (clearly not Davis, but bikes are regulated like cars across the US).

          Campus is certainly an interesting case study. There everything is shifted. People on foot become the “bikes” of other locations, and people on bikes become the “cars” of other locations. A person on foot on campus can feel every bit as vulnerable to bike traffic, as people riding bikes in town feel vulnerable to automobile traffic. And yet – if everybody pays attention (ha!) the astonishing mass of humanity ends up where they are headed without much delay or danger. Think back to how it used to be: 4-way stops at the major campus intersections. And just imagine how that would work today (as if it worked before they switched to round-a-bouts).

          But back to my point: The three main modes of transportation are clearly different for many complex reasons. And trying to regulate bicycles as cars is not practical nor is it appropriate. The bicycle (as SOD has pointed out several times is the best choice for intracity transportation) has become the ugly duckling of transportation. Too slow for car traffic. To fast for pedestrian traffic. So here we have this excellent way of transporting ourselves through town, and so many people wish for it to just go away so they don’t have to get upset at seeing a cyclist roll through a stop sign.

  20. Anon

    From the CA Driver Handbook:

    Intersections
    An intersection is any place where one line of roadway meets another roadway. Intersections include cross streets, side streets, alleys, freeway entrances, and any other location where vehicles traveling on different highways or roads join each other.

    Driving through an intersection is one of the most complex traffic situations motorists encounter. Intersection collisions account for more than 45 percent of all reported crashes and 21 percent of fatalities according to the Federal Highway Administration.

    At intersections without “STOP” or “YIELD” signs, slow down and be ready to stop. Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection. Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.

    At “T” intersections without “STOP” or “YIELD” signs, yield to traffic and pedestrians on the through road. They have the right-of-way.
    When you turn left, give the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching that are close enough to be dangerous. Also, look for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. . 

    Safety suggestion: While waiting to turn left, keep your wheels pointed straight ahead until it is safe to start your turn. If your wheels are pointed to the left, and a vehicle hits you from behind, you could be pushed into oncoming traffic.

    When you turn right, be sure to check for pedestrians crossing the street and bicyclists coming up behind you on the right.

    On divided highways or highways with several lanes, watch for vehicles coming in any lane you cross. Turn either left or right only when it is safe.

    When there are “STOP” signs at all corners, stop first then follow the rules listed above.

    If you have parked off the road or are leaving a parking lot, etc., yield to traffic before reentering the road.

    Now, carefully analyzing video:

    SITUATION PRIOR TO ANY MOVE: gray car to left, black car directly in front, and white truck to right are all sitting at intersection

    FIRST MOVE: first to cross intersection is bicycle coming towards David;

    SECOND MOVE: gray car on left then turns towards us (next in line to turn, either because it arrived next at the intersection or going counterclockwise if it arrived at the same time); white truck on right starts to enter intersection and stops, realizing it is not its turn

    THIRD MOVE: black car in front of David moves forward into intersection (next in line to turn either because it arrived next at the intersection or going counterclockwise if it arrived at the same time); bike to car’s right comes up to intersection and completely stops at this point

    FOURTH MOVE: bicyclist on right now starts to move into intersection; by this time black car is midway into the intersection

    FIFTH MOVE: truck on right starts into the intersection after black car clears the intersection

    SIXTH MOVE: bike on right hits white truck on left

    Now according to the CA Driver’s Manual, “Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection. Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.”

    This is how I would analyze it.  The white truck was at the intersection before the bike on the right.  Vehicles or bicycles are required to yield to whoever arrives first.  Thus the bicycle on the right was required to yield to the white truck on the right that was already there first.  Also it appears the white truck had already started to enter the intersection, and was waiting for the gray car to clear the intersection (slight left-turn lead-in), requiring the bike on the right to yield to traffic already in the intersection.  I would say from a technical point of view, the bicyclist was the one in the wrong on two counts, if I am reading the Driver’s Manual correctly.

    This stuff can get hyper-technical, and is not always intuitive.  That is why a traffic expert would have to analyze this collision to determine fault, and I am no traffic expert.  Fault is important, to assist traffic engineers to know how best to address problem intersections.  And of course, as has been noted above, the bicyclist should have a flashing light and wear bright clothing, especially on a dark and rainy day.

     

    1. Matt Williams

      Good info Anon, what you have left out is how a multi-lane situation affects the right of way sequencing. That comes into play in two ways in this situation. Specifically, when the SECOND MOVE transpires due to the fact that the westbound gray car had the intersection’s right of way seniority, one cycle of eastbound cars “shares” that right of way event. The white truck’s initial move was (in my opinion) appropriate and should have continued all the way through the intersection in one continuous movement. However, when the white truck stopped, it abandoned that “paired” east-west right of way seniority, which then rotated to the car with “arrival seniority” which was the northbound car coming toward David. When that car entered the intersection with the THIRD MOVE, the car in the southbound automobile lane and the bicycle in the southbound bicycle lane inherited “shared” that right of way event and proceeded into the intersection, commencing their respective travel at the same time, but because of the power discrepancy between the automobile and the bicycle, the travel time across the intersection for the automobile was significantly less than for the bicycle.

      1. hpierce

        ” … car in the southbound automobile lane and the bicycle in the southbound bicycle lane inherited “shared” that right of way event and proceeded into the intersection, commencing their respective travel at the same time, … ”  With all due respect, Matt ( for those who care, Matt and I respect each other, but it is not uncommon that we disagree – we had a great coffee session Friday), “el wrongo”.  And don’t necessarily assume that Arizona is a wise source of what constitutes an “intersection”, unless you want to accept other things that the “current wisdom” of Arizona affords.  Arizona has been a true leader in some areas, average in others, and retro-grade in still others… had the bicycle been a true motor vehicle, or even as a bicycle in a separate 8 ‘lane’ approach intersection (approach lanes – 2 on each approach for both the MV & bicycle)  [and going out] it is VERY unclear that the bicyclist had the right of way, or, even if they had (which I question), whether it was wise to insist on it/expect it (opportunistic?), and whether there was only one idiot (I do not believe it as a legal or traffic engineering problem) who caused this collision.

        You do not “inherit” right of way from a vehicle next to you.

        Unless, maybe, one of you is dead. Fortunately, that wasn’t even close to happening, based on the video.

        1. Matt Williams

          Pierce, either I was unclear in what I said or you misread it … probably the former. The “inheritance” wasn’t from the car beside the bicycle to the bicycle. Rather, it was from the eastbound lanes containing the white truck and no bicycle to the southbound lanes containing a car in the car lane and a bicycle in the bicycle lane. If, hypothetically, there were two southbound car lanes each occupied by a car, then both those southbound cars would have “inherited” the right of way when the white truck “abdicated” its place in the right of way sequence when it arrested its forward motion and came to a full stop at the intersection boundary. NOTE: my use of the word inherit is in the context of any sequenced series of events … when you move up to the next place in the sequence, you inherit that place from the person who previously occupied it.

          In the case of intersection definition, which is most frequently meaningful in “running a yellow/red light” situations, Arizona actually lagged behind the rest of the nation by holding on to the dotted line (square) definition of an intersection, long after virtually all the other states had gone to the broader red-shaded definition.

        2. Barack Palin

          Matt, how do I post an actual picture on here and not just a link to a pic?  I’d like to post a pic from a website to the Vanguard.  Thanks in advance.

          1. Don Shor

            The picture has to be an image link. Then you click on the ‘img’ icon and enter, first, the image link, then a brief description of it (as prompted).
            Anyone who just has a picture they want linked can email the picture to me (donshor@gmail.com) and I’ll upload it to my server and then post the link. If you’re more comfortable sending it a board member instead of me, they can forward it to me.

          2. Matt Williams

            BP, you use a modified version of the following code

            [a href=”https://barbadosfreepress.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/obama-palin-barbados.jpg” rel=”nofollow”][img class=”aligncenter” src=”https://barbadosfreepress.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/obama-palin-barbados.jpg” width=”510″ height=”510″ /][/a]

            The modifications you need to make are twofold:
            1: Replace the six vertical brackets (three that face right and three that face left) with angled brackets (the ones that you get with the SHIFT . and SHIFT , keys
            2: Replace the two instances of the IRL name (in this case https://barbadosfreepress.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/obama-palin-barbados.jpg ) with the IRL name of the image you want to display. NOTE: you can not use images that reside on your computer. The image must exist as a file on the internet.

            Hope that helps.
            .

        3. Barack Palin

          Thanks Matt and Don, I’ll give it a try.  That pic is hilarious.  You better watch it Matt,  your fellow liberals might not appreciate you showing their hero dancing with Sarah Palin.

  21. Nancy Price

    So we  are discussing what occurs during daytime. Driving at night around downtown can be a  nightmare with bikes, cars and pedestrians.  While not quite downtown, a few years ago I was driving on 7th Str. and stopped 7th and F to drive East on 7th crossing F to go to the  Food Coop.  At that intersection, I twice looked north and south carefully and seeing no car or bike started to drive across F when at about  2/3rds across the arc of my headlights picked up a male bike rider with no headlight, no reflectors and no other markings.  I stopped and he  broadsided me and fell to the ground. I was terrified and then relieved when got up unhurt, though my side mirror and side of the care were damaged and his bike was damaged. And guesswhat?  He was married and a Ph.D. grad student in the electrical engineering dept. and just hadn’t had the time to fix his headlight. You can then imagine, how I reacted. I was then told by the police later, that I was at fault because I had entered the intersection and he didn’t have a stop sign.

    1. Matt Williams

      Nancy, I just posted a “marketplace solution” post in the vaccination freedom thread. I think a “marketplace solution” is warranted in the situation of bicycles with no lights. When I moved to California there were lots of signs on the highways that said “$271 fine for failure to wear your seatbelt.” In 15 years I’m sure that fine has escalated to a level considerably higher than $271. I personally believe that riding a bicycle between dusk and dawn with no headlight is much worse than driving with no seatbelt. I believe the Davis City Council and UCD should enact ordinances that set the fine for failure to have an operating headlight at twice the prevailing seatbelt fine … payable in full at the time of the violation. Check, cash or credit card would be accepted as payment. Inability to pay would mean a trip back to the Police Station until payment is made.

      With that said, absence of conspicuous reflectors on the back of the bicyclist’s clothing or a conspicuous, blinking, rear-facing red light on the bicycle is almost as bad as the absence of a front headlight.

      1. dlemongello

        Whatever $ fine one deems adequate for a bike without a light when lights are required by other vehicles, 1) for Nancy to have been considered at fault is crazy, but 2) if you do not have a light whether a car or bike or whatever, you have to assume you can not be seen and proceed accordingly.  Even with my light (which I use blinking to attract attention) I generally ride as if I may well not be seen because it is harder to see a bike light than the brightness of 2 car lights or even a single motorcycle light.

      2. darelldd

        Matt –

        >> set the fine for failure to have an operating headlight at twice the prevailing seatbelt fine … payable in full at the time of the violation.

        And when my headlight is stolen while I’m in a meeting? I’m OK with this increased fine if we can severe the hand of anybody who steals my bike, or anything off of it. Of of course if the fine is the same for any road user who fails to have lights on. I mean, I get the point of this, and unlit bicycles are a real problem. But so is theft. I’ve lost $250 in bike lights in the past year. (and before anybody suggests that it is my fault that their stolen – I’ll warn you that I have a response!)

        What do we do about the people who step out of their cars into the bike lane or the general use lanes at night without lights, and without reflective gear? Where should we set that fine? And the people who walk down the middle of the multi-use paths without lights or reflective clothing?

        This isn’t just a problem of unlit bicycles, I’m afraid.

        1. Matt Williams

          I didn’t say it was just a problem of unlit bicycles darell. The problem of stepping out of cars into the bike lane at night can be remedied by requiring the inside vertical edge of automobile doors to include the same reflective material that many bikers have on the backs of their riding jackets and helmets. The bicycle’s headlight will reflect off the reflective material and warn the biker of the hazard.

          Stolen lights should be handled the same way that stolen year stickers from license plates are handled. When you arrive with your bike to the Police Station with the new light, the fine is reduced to a $10 administrative fee. Theft is definitely a problem. Severing the hand of the thief is a novel idea.

        2. darelldd

          Sorry for my misconception Matt. There seemed to be an implication that the punitive fine was just for unlit cyclists. After all, there is a lighting requirement only for cyclists and motorists. Not for pedestrians, skate boarders, wheel chair operators, etc. – even when they are out in the street. And I rarely hear of anybody suggesting a punitive fine for unlit automobiles.

          Making the edge of doors reflective (mine all are!) would be a big help. But only if the people entering and exiting the doors remained right by those open doors. However – just before the door is open and just after the door is closed (when either entering or exiting the vehicle) there is nothing showing. And when the people are walking to or from the car… there’s nothing showing. When they are darting across the street in their dark cloths with no lights, there is nothing showing. When they are walking on the street-side of a line of parked cars trying to find their own – there is nothing showing. When they are walking down the multi-use paths in their dark clothes, there is nothing showing.

          And of course there is no law against any of this.

  22. Tia Will

    hpierce, you are correct that I over generalized with regard to the “unmarked” crossings. This obviously only applies in heavily travelled areas or those in which there are blind crossings, not in the middle of a residential development for example.

    My two biggest concerns as I pointed out are the Richards South off ramp and the L and 2nd to 3rd crossing. Since you have also navigated these on foot, it would appear that we have different “safety concern” thresholds and I appear to be more risk averse than you. However, that does not invalidate my comment that these crossing while safe for the occupants of cars, are not safe for those who are walking or are on bikes and in the years that I have been using the Richards underpass I have seen a number of close calls between bikes and pedestrians and those coming off the south bound off ramp at higher than designated speed obviously not anticipating a pedestrian or bike attempting to make the crossing.

    Also, I have responded directly to your email.

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, I’m confused. Why would anyone be crossing the street at the intersection of L Street and Second Street? On the northeast side of that intersection is the PG&E property, which is impenetrable for 100+ yards to the north and 100+ yards to the east. The southeast side of that intersection and the southwest side and the northwest sides all are contiguous, with no street to cross. Where would someone (whom you anticipate crossing that intersection) be walking from and to?

      1. Alan Miller

        Matt, 2nd Street continues on the west side of the barrier as an unmaintained city street.  Peds and bikes can cross the intersection of 2nd and L.  I requested that barrier be erected in about 1990 and the City concurred.

        1. hpierce

          Alan… didn’t realize that you were the requesting party…  good call.  Thank you.  I think that the City abandoned the segment of the public street right of way, adjacent to the PG&E substation, but retained utility and bike/ped easements.

    2. Don Shor

      I agree, that intersection has become a real problem for bikes and pedestrians, as well as autos turning left onto L from 3rd, due to the significant increase in traffic coming west on the frontage road. The cars turning onto L are accelerating and seem oblivious to the possibility of cross traffic of any kind.

      1. Matt Williams

        Don, I agree with your assessment of bicycles and cars at 3rd and L. However, for the life of me I can’t imagine why pedestrians would cross L Street at that intersection. Pedestrians crossing 3rd Street at that intersection make sense, but otherwise I can’t see it. Am I missing something?

    3. hpierce

      Will check my e-mail in a bit… not to quibble, but I will… your statement of “… that does not invalidate my comment that these crossing while safe for the occupants of cars, are not safe for those who are walking or are on bikes…” would be perfectly valid IF you had qualified it as being a matter our your opinion/feeling.  But that is not what you wrote.  I require a metric of measurable data, coupled with MY opinions/feelings.  Therefore, my comment is also valid. [BTW, those intersections you mention are not necessarily safer for the occupants of cars… particularly Second and L, where there have been more than 3 SERIOUS crashes involving single-occupant, single vehicles] 

      I did NOT say, that you were wrong saying those intersections you mentioned felt unsafe to you or others. But then again, your statement, as made, implied a statement of FACT, not opinion/feeling. Like you said in a different thread, one cannot say just about ANYTHING is “safe” in an absolute sense. What might be, or be perceived to be “safe”, depends on many factors.  Such factors include senses (visual, aural acuity, field of vision), life experience, physical mobility, reaction time, etc. When someone says something IS unsafe, and wants to demand action, I may challenge such a statement. There are some clearly unsafe things… letting a small child melt wax in an open pan, atop a gas stove with no adult supervision, for example.  Immediate, corrective action is definitely reasonable.

      Using my metrics, I feel it can be “perfectly” safe to cross six lanes of traffic on I-80, if a LOT of factors were taken into account.  It would be illegal, but that’s not inherently a safety issue. 

      Many people, including you and I, should beware of thinking of things in absolute terms.

      1. Tia Will

        hpierce

        If we are going to quibble, I will as well. On the site is a permanent disclaimer that my opinions when I write are mine and mine alone. I don’t think it is too far a stretch to consider that this extends to my posts as well as my articles, but if anyone really wants me to do so, I suppose that I can put in a disclaimer about opinion rather than “truth”every time I write. Since I have repetitively and frequently noted that I have no expertise with regard to street planning or safety,  I would consider it self evident that I have no special expertise in this area.

  23. Anon

    Matt Williams: “Good info Anon, what you have left out is how a multi-lane situation affects the right of way sequencing.”

    The CA Driver’s Handbook does not change rules just because there is a multi-lane situation, from what I can tell.  It seems to indicate the rules are the rules, no matter the lane configuration of the 4-way stop.

    Nancy Price: “At that intersection, I twice looked north and south carefully and seeing no car or bike started to drive across F when at about  2/3rds across the arc of my headlights picked up a male bike rider with no headlight, no reflectors and no other markings.  I stopped and he  broadsided me and fell to the ground. I was terrified and then relieved when got up unhurt, though my side mirror and side of the care were damaged and his bike was damaged. And guesswhat?  He was married and a Ph.D. grad student in the electrical engineering dept. and just hadn’t had the time to fix his headlight. You can then imagine, how I reacted. I was then told by the police later, that I was at fault because I had entered the intersection and he didn’t have a stop sign.

    This is a perfect example of why a traffic expert has to analyze a collision, because often technical rules about who has the right of way trumps common sense.

    1. Matt Williams

      Anon, it doesn’t surprise me that the CA Driver’s Handbook doesn’t specifically describe any such difference. However, I’m reasonably sure that the CA Driver’s Handbook also does not state that when two cars are at rest waiting at an intersection side by side and the right of way seniority revolves around to their direction in the intersection, that only one of those two cars may proceed while the other car has to wait until the right of way seniority circulates through another full cycle before they can proceed. Said another way, the CA Driver’s Handbook does not say that only one car can enter an intersection at a time.

      Similarly, if the car facing you at the edge of an intersection is about to be the senior vehicle in the right of way queue, do you cross the intersection in tandem with them, or do you sit and wait until the right of way seniority proceeds through 180 degrees to you before you proceed?

        1. Matt Williams

          Anon, go back and look at the video again. The southbound car in the car lane and the southbound bicycle in the bicycle lane are absolutely side by side … and they commence their southbound movement simultaneously.

          1. Matt Williams

            Yup. The bicyclist pushes himself and his bicycle forward with his right leg at the same time as the car commences its move forward. Three seconds after that right leg pushoff the white truck is still in its stationary position.

  24. Tia Will

    Matt

    This is not a matter of anticipation. This is the reality that determines how I get to work.

    From my house to the Pole Line road over crossing  is by far the most direct route that does not involve directly taking on the traffic coming off the Richards South off ramp. That means that since I live on J street, I have to cross L Street at some point. Please note that I am not saying that this affects large numbers of people. I was using it as an illustration of how our current streets our configured for the convenience of automobiles, not pedestrians. I also specified that I am aware that I can avoid this by walking up to 5th street but this adds an additional 4-5 blocks to my walk. Not much of a burden if you are in a car. For a pedestrian, a bit more of a challenge for no other reason than to accommodate the faster moving cars whose occupants remain safely encased.

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, I’m not sure how walking 5th Street adds anything more than one block to your walk … if that. When you get to the corner of 3rd and L you can turn right and walk one block to 2nd and L or you can walk 2 blocks to the corner of 5th and L … a one block difference. The east-west leg on 2nd Street and the east west leg on 5th Street are essentially equidistant. From 5th Street to the point where the Sudwerk driveway junctions Pole Line is a short 1 block south, and from 2nd Street to the point where the Sudwerk driveway junctions Pole Line is a generous 1 block north. So the aggregate net difference in the routes is at most 1 block. Am I missing something?

    1. Matt Williams

      I’ll be glad to.

      I’ve pulled up Google Earth and the 2nd Street route is 3,945 feet. The 5th Street route is 4,235 feet. 290 feet difference. The distance between 5th Street and 4th Street on L Street is 465 feet. So, I stand by my assessment … less than one block difference.

  25. Tia Will

    But Matt,

    I don’t live off of 4th street. I live south of third street a couple of houses from the east west tracks. So I am not sure how you are getting that it is not more than one block to 5th street.

    1. Matt Williams

      I put the Google Earth starting point at your house, walked up to 3rd, down 3rd to L, then one route goes north and the other route goes south along L. They both terminate where the Sudwerk parking lot up ramp rejoins Pole Line.

      1. Tia Will

        Matt,

        Yes that is true. But if I go north as you state, I am walking at least two blocks directly away from my destination. Those are an additional two to two and 1/2 blocks each direction that I would not have to walk if I could cut straight across, which is unsafe. Again, if you do not understand how walking away from your destination results in a longer trip, please come walk it with me.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          > Again, if you do not understand how walking away

          > from your destination results in a longer trip

          He does understand that it results in a longer trip and stated that it is 290 feet longer (less than the length of a football field) and would take an average person about a minute to walk that distance.  Like Matt I wonder why someone would cross a “dangerous” intersection to save about a minute?

          1. Don Shor

            Because the east side of L Street is more comfortable to walk on. The sidewalk is wider. There are fewer obstacles. There is less activity of traffic and people coming and going. There are no apartment buildings or active businesses. And it leads directly to the long pedestrian walkway that goes along Fifth Street between L and Pole Line, without having to wait at the intersection of Fifth and L.

            But it really doesn’t matter why people do it. They have the right to cross there, and they do so. There is a surprising amount of pedestrian and bike traffic along that stretch of L Street, and at the 3rd Street end the pedestrian and bike traffic has not been dealt with. I travel that route nearly every day. I see a lot of what Tia is describing, and it has definitely been increasing since Second Street Crossing was built and more commercial development occurred along Second Street.

            The cars coming west on Second who turn onto L are not expecting cross traffic. They are accelerating as they come out of the curve. They need to be slowing down, with road striping and signage indicating pedestrian and bike crossings.

          2. Matt Williams

            Fair enough Don. Your comment prompted me to see if there was a gap in the knowledge that I have acquired in my 15 years in Davis. As it turns out there is (now was thanks to you). In all those 15 years I have never seen a single person walking on the east side of L between 5th and 2nd. As a result of that absence of any data points of evidence, I made the mistaken conclusion that there was no sidewalk on that side of L Street, only the side yard vegetation of the PG&E Maintenance Yard. My bad.

            You are absolutely right. People have the right to both use that sidewalk and cross the street at L and 3rd. Beginning and end of story. The fact that I would personally choose to walk on the west side of L has no relevance.

        2. darelldd

          >> Like Matt I wonder why someone would cross a “dangerous” intersection to save about a minute?

          People drive dangerously fast on our roads every day in order to save much less than a minute. I’m not saying the ideas are directly related, but it popped into my mind…

        3. Matt Williams

          Tia, the key spot of your walking route is where, while proceeding north on the up ramp from the grade separated crossing of Pole Line and 2nd Street, you make a U-Turn and join the walking area on the west side of the Pole Line Overpass. From that point on to Kaiser the two routes follow identical paths. Similarly both routes share the walk down 3rd Street from your house.

          Google Earth calculates that distance as 545 feet. The southbound distance from 5th street to that same point is 305 feet. The distance along 2nd Street from L to the Pole Line grade separated crossing is 2,110 feet. The distance along 5th Street from L to Pole Line is 2,115 feet. The distance along L Street from 3rd to 2nd is 400 feet. The distance along L Street from 3rd to 5th is 935 feet. The net of those three comparative legs is 300 feet (-240 +5 +535).

          As Donna noted, you will be walking that extra 300 feet (2/3 of a block) in a one way trip.

  26. Tia Will

    Donna,

    Hi !

    I do not know what would improve things or what it is you want.”

    What I would like to see is a movement away from the hegemony of the automobile in our culture. While it is true that the routes you have cited are far better than not having them, they are still work arounds so that those who choose to drive are not inconvenienced by those of us who choose to walk or bike. Our entire culture is centered around the least healthful and most dangerous means of transportation and I would like to see that slowly and incrementally change over time.

    I am quite committed to walking and minimizing my use of my car. Even so, there are times when I feel that it is unsafe to walk and so I am left with the car as my only option. I want to note that I am not afraid that I will be mugged or have my possessions stolen while walking. I am afraid that I will be struck by a car especially if I have to work late enough that I would be walking home in the dark. It is my belief that if it were safer and more convenient to walk, many more of us would choose that option, thus taking our cars off the road and making it safer for everyone. That is what I would like to see.

     

  27. dlemongello

    Tia, add “or bike” after wherever you said walk and I agree completely.  It seemed to me you wanted something added though to those intersections physically that would make them safer to walk through. Given the speed limit of 25  and the  pedestrian laws, it is philosophy you are trying to change more than pedestrians having not been accounted for in the mix. Also, those intersections are only 3 and 2 way as it is and the later it is the less traffic.

    Meanwhile, what I think Matt missed is that it is the 290 feet twice, away and back,  before you have broken even with your destination.

  28. Tia Will

    delemongello

    I considered writing “bike” after every pedestrian entry but two things stopped me. First the clumsiness of the construction. But more importantly, roads are designated for cars and bikes. Pedestrians depend upon there being side walks or green belts. Unfortunately there are not always side walks where I would choose to walk. For example, along Second Street there are several stretches where, while there are spaces to walk, it involves trespassing as there is no public sidewalk. Now I am certainly not above trespassing for the few feet to cross the parking lot where the quilting shop is located and a second stretch where I do not know the name of the business located there, however, there is no way that one can pretend that this is a pedestrian friendly route equal to the accommodations made for bikes let alone for cars.

    I think that one of the most telling comments about this was actually made by Matt who queried me about “who did I anticipate would be walking there ?” He clearly could not imagine why anyone would be walking there. Well practically no one because in its current state it is so uninviting to pedestrians. But that is a matter of choice. If we were to make it more pedestrian friendly, I am sure that there are more of us who would walk this stretch and use it to cross to South Davis.

    1. darelldd

      >> He clearly could not imagine why anyone would be walking there. Well practically no one because in its current state it is so uninviting to pedestrians. But that is a matter of choice. If we were to make it more pedestrian friendly, I am sure that there are more of us who would walk this stretch and use it to cross to South Davis.

      This reminds me so much of the the discussion before the 5th street redesign. I can’t count how many times it was asked, “Why do we need to put bike lanes on 5th street? Only a few people ride on 5th street!”

      We built all these roads for cars, and they sure came. Let’s try building for people on foot and on bikes, and see if THEY come.

      1. Alan Miller

        . . . and similarly, few people cross the tracks from downtown to Olive Drive anymore.  So there couldn’t possibly be a need to connect downtown with Olive drive for pedestrians and bicycles.

        1. hpierce

          Sarcasm noted.  Blame UPRR, not City (though you didn’t blame anyone — pre-emptive strike to those who might).  A number of city staff, in several departments, fought the “Olive Drive Wall”, including many meetings/correspondence with UPRR and the applicable State Agencies.

          As a poet named Frost wrote, “there is something that does not like a wall…”  Can’t tell you how many times (using due caution) I’ve crossed RR tracks “illegally”, starting over 50 years ago.  50 years ago, we had fewer litigators if I had done a “stupid” and ended up dead.

          I still have hopes of a ‘Emeryville’ solution to the “Olive Drive problem”, but that is expensive.  Even more expensive is a car/bike/ped crossing, and an at-grade crossing (cheapest) is, from experience looking at attempts to do so, politically and legally ‘impossible’.

        2. Matt Williams

          I completely disagree Alan. For any address in Old East Davis that is between 4th Street (on the south) and Drexel (on the north), the route for pedestrians and bicycles to Sudwerk and/or SwimAmerica is far superior to and more convenient than and more direct than and with more safety features than the route for automobiles. The only residents of Old East Davis where 2nd Street is the preferred route to 5th Street are the small number of homes that are south of 3rd Street.

          You can’t satisfy all the people all the time … and Bob Dunning is in the “north of 4th Street” cadre and you and Tia are in the “south of 3rd Street” cadres. When push comes to vocal shove, the choice between these two cadres is clear.

    2. dlemongello

      Yes, bikes of course have different needs as far as “lanes” but what I meant was the philosophy you hope will change.  I totally get the argument of what a place is built for is mainly what will show up there. Until now though you had not mentioned the lack of sidewalks along 2nd St., you only mentioned the intersections of 3rd and 2nd with L.  Obviously if they got rid of I-80 it would be really easy to get to S Davis, but I do not see that reality coming any time even remotely soon.  As I said to Darell (I think that’s his name) in another post, I am too resigned to what I consider reality. Making sure sidewalks are continuous along every street however, is not too much to ask.

      So to tie back in with this story, what is trying to be done everywhere is to find the best balance to accommodate all the different modes at once though that is always a tricky balance to achieve. The only possible way to even have a chance is for everyone to exhibit both caution and consideration

    3. Matt Williams

      I think that one of the most telling comments about this was actually made by Matt who queried me about “who did I anticipate would be walking there ?” He clearly could not imagine why anyone would be walking there. Well practically no one because in its current state it is so uninviting to pedestrians. But that is a matter of choice. If we were to make it more pedestrian friendly, I am sure that there are more of us who would walk this stretch and use it to cross to South Davis.

      Tia is correct. I could not imagine anyone walking on that stretch of Second Street for precisely the reasons Tia has outlined … plus a few others. First, it has no sidewalks. Second, it has no destinations between Sudwerk and L Street. Third, the speed limit for the automobiles is at least 40 mph (possibly 45 mph), which means the typical car sharing the space with the pedestrian is traveling closer to 50 mph, sometimes more (I have been passed by vehicles on that stretch while I was traveling the speed limit). Fourth, there are much more pedestrian-friendly alternatives that are essentially the same walking distance and have protective fenced barriers between the cars and the pedestrians, as well as slower speed limits.

      1. Jim Frame

        the speed limit for the automobiles is at least 40 mph (possibly 45 mph)

        FWIW, the posted speed limit drops to 35 mph just west of Pole Line Road.  And while I don’t see a lot of pedestrians on that stretch, I do see a few who seem to be going to/from downtown.

      2. Barbara King

        At 11:14 pm on Feb 8, 2014, Matt Williams wrote about Second Street, :  “… it has no destinations between Sudwerk and L Street. ”

        I don’t know if this makes much difference in the discussion overall, but there are at least three destinations on Second St. between Sudwerk and L:  Toad Hollow Dog Park (which could be visited by both dog owners and dog lovers with no dogs;  Pincushion Boutique fabric store;  and a storage place behind Pincushion, accessed via a driveway next to Pincushion’s parking lot (not sure if that storage place is still there, though).

  29. Tia Will

    And let’s not forget all of the businesses that are on Second St east of the Poleline overpass. These are within an easily walkable distance from Old East Davis, and yet we have essentially chosen to configure this area so as to only be safely, conveniently and attractively accessible by car. I don’t think that we should be resigned. I think that we should be active and vocal about our desires for equal standing for our preferred mode of transportation. Just because this is the status quo and “reality” does not mean that we should just submit silently to an unhealthy, dirty, costly, dangerous, and rapidly becoming outmoded  means of transporation.

    1. Matt Williams

      And let’s not forget all of the businesses that are on Second St east of the Poleline overpass. These are within an easily walkable distance from Old East Davis, and yet we have essentially chosen to configure this area so as to only be safely, conveniently and attractively accessible by car.

      Both I and Google Earth substantively disagree with you Tia. For bicycles and pedestrians getting to Sudwerk and/or any point east of Sudwerk on 2nd (SwimAmerica, et. al.) it both easier and safer via 5th Street than it is via 2nd Street. The only portions of Old East Davis that have a shorter route via 2nd Street are those homes that are south of 3rd Street. All the Old East homes from 4th Street to 14th Street between the north-south railroad tracks and Pole Line have a shorter and safer bicycle and pedestrian route via 5th Street. For those who live between 3rd and 4th Streets the two routes are a toss up … they are effectively equidistant.

  30. Tia Will

    Matt

    Again, you seem to be more fixated on the actual distance than I am. This is admittedly my fault because I wrote about the increased distance. Walking one extra block, or two extra blocks, or no extra blocks is not my key concern. What I do not like is that while cars have many choices about how to get from point A to point B relatively quickly, we have not created concomitant safe, convenient and attractive walking spaces for people in this part of town. It is the car centric nature of our infrastructure that is troublesome to me, not whether or not I have to walk “X” distance further.

    1. Matt Williams

      I completely disagree Tia. For any address in Old East Davis that is between 4th Street (on the south) and Drexel (on the north), the route for pedestrians and bicycles to Sudwerk and/or SwimAmerica is far superior to and more convenient than and more direct than and with more safety features than the route for automobiles.

      1. hpierce

        Matt… “old east Davis”, except for a few “heritage” homes, lies south of Fifth, certainly not north of Eighth.  The commonly/policy accepted western limits of “old East” is the RR, easterly limits is L.  If you go to Drexel on the North, you would arguably have to go to Pole Line on the east.  If you look at the dates of subdivisions and improvements (with the possible exception of “Cemetery Road”), “old East” is much smaller than you opined.

        1. Matt Williams

          Fair enough hpierce. For me New East Davis is Mace Ranch. Old East Davis is everything else. However, I’m always game to learn something new. Tonight is no different.

          If you restrict the footprint enough then Tia and Alan’s point (auto routes are supported/enabled much more than bicycle/pedestrian routes) loses its punch. Tandem Properties at Anderson and Avocet to the Davis Library is an interesting route to look at from the perspective of the point they are making. Willett School to Arroyo Park is another.

      2. sisterhood

        Tia and Matt, for God’s sake stop bickering and just take your walk together I’ll pay for a coffee or iced tea for both of you when you’re done. PLEASE….Matt, I’ll find your relatives here in AZ at the coffee shop, and the next time you see them, they can give you the five bucks. 🙂

         

        1. Matt Williams

          sisterhood, if Tia’s and my interchanges came across as bickering, please accept my apology. Although it may not have come across very effectively in our dialogue, the balance between walking infrastructure, bicycle infrastructure and automobile infrastructure in Davis is well worth dialoguing about. I personally think that one of Davis’ great strengths is the richness of that balance. I don’t ride a bicycle, but appreciate the very rich bicycle path infrastructure of Davis. I recently started walking a four mile loop with a Sierra Club group starting from Peets at The Marketplace or from Common Grounds, and appreciate the very rich walking path infrastructure of Davis. As a result my perspective on the issues Tia and I are discussing from a “fullness” perspective. Tia, who wants good to become even better, is discussing from an “emptiness” perspective. Both are legitimate perspectives.

  31. Barbara King

    A couple of days ago I saw a woman, a man, and 2 or 3 children walking west on the north side of Second Street, west of  Target and east of Hoffman Automotive.  To their right was a field, and there were no sidewalks.  The children looked to be of early-to-mid elementary school age, and most or all of the family members were carrying bags of what I presumed to be newly purchased merchandise.  With those children in tow and those bags to carry, they were most likely taking the shortest, most direct route available to them.

    1. hpierce

      Was that across the Frontier Fertilizer site?  That property has never been developed within the City, and sidewalks are the responsibility of adjacent development within the City.

      If you are referring to the “Frontier” site, it probably won’t be developed in our lifetimes.

  32. Anon

    Tia Will: “I think that we should be active and vocal about our desires for equal standing for our preferred mode of transportation. Just because this is the status quo and “reality” does not mean that we should just submit silently to an unhealthy, dirty, costly, dangerous, and rapidly becoming outmoded  means of transportation.”

    I am sure we could all use pejoratives for each mode of transportation, but it isn’t particularly helpful.  Secondly, do you ever drive a car?  Since when is the car an “outmoded” means of transportation, any more than the bicycle is?  The car is an unhealthy means of transportation?  Really?  Tell that to a 75 year old, who may be disabled, and the car represents independence.  A bicycle is dangerous to ride on. Bottom line, all modes of transportation need to be accommodated by our roads.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      I do not doubt that all modes of transportation have their disadvantages. But, Anon, add up the number of deaths, the amount of smog, the sedentary lifestyle that has been created by the gas burning private automobile and I will stand my ground about it being the most harmful and least healthy of the three. And that doesn’t even begin to address all of the money and space that is required for its operation and storage that could be used for healthier purposes.

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