Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cyclists forced into deadly intersection.

Update: From Mark Simon via SVBC.

"We have received a number of inquiries from cyclists concerned that we closed a gate on Pico Boulevard, an unimproved private street that is the entrance to our SamTrans base in San Carlos. The street has been used by both cyclists and pedestrians. We closed the gate out of concern for the safety of... cyclists and pedestrians... sharing an unimproved street with buses that come in and out of our base with high frequency. Because of the inquiries, we will conduct a safety assessment of this area as it relates to our use of it and the use of it by cyclists and pedestrians. It will take several days to complete the assessment and when we are done we will report out to those who have inquired and through this venue.

The "Bayway" commute route from San Francisco to the South Bay includes a section between San Carlos/Foster City that offers cyclists a few options, and making the correct decision can not only provide a little peace, less odors, but also increase safety. From Oracle's campus to Redwood Shores Parkway, the most obvious route is to take Shoreway. This takes one past a recyling dump and forces you to spend time alongside large garbage trucks. The other option is Twin Dolphin, a four lane street with a median through an office park with little traffic(why they needed 4 lanes here is a mystery to me, but I digress). Twin Dolphin is far superior for cycling.

North to South, both roads take you to Redwood Shores Parkway. On Shoreway, you would go straight through the treacherous intersection with Holly and shortly take a left onto Skyway. Since I've been commuting this way, my handlers always led me down Twin Dolphin instead, which ends with a right onto RWS, at which point you must cross three lanes of traffic to make a left onto Shoreway.

This left is very difficult - it is controlled by a left turn arrow and the intersection does not sense bikes. I mean, it really doesn't sense them because I have stood there in a pack of 12+ bikes and we eventually ran the light in frustration after missing out on two cycles. While there isn't much cross traffic, the opposing traffic sometimes has a green while the through way shows red, so you could be running a left against a red into oncoming traffic you would be led to believe will stop. The "best" tactic seems to be to wait for cross traffic to have a green, cross left, then complete the box turn. The legality of this is tricky - the sensor doesn't pick up the bike and my understanding is you aren't required to wait forever if the light won't turn. Basically, it just sucks.

An unfortunate incident at this intersection caused some of us to revisit how to handle the Holly/RWS intersection - the death of Mary Yonkers who chose to ride from Oracle to Holly on Shoreway, and was killed by a right turning dump truck.

Mary Yonkers memorial on Twitpic

It was discovered that by going straight through RWS on Twin Dolphin, you go into a parking lot, then onto Pico Blvd. Pico Blvd is sort of a road through some SamTrans bus storage lot from what I can tell. This takes you onto Airport which becomes Skyway and you head into San Carlos, without dealing with the Holly/RWS intersection.

View Larger Map

Above is the view of Pico looking into the hotel parking lot. I would be coming from the parking lot, but this morning I saw a rider headed the direction viewed in the frame. He didn't make it very far and neither did I...

Cyclists do not pass - pico/twin dolphin on Twitpic

I'm not sure why this was closed off, but if at all possible we need to figure out how to get this route open.

Hat tip to the South Bay Cycling mailing list for pointing this out, I would have ran into it anyway, but knowing this obstacle was in play prepped me to photograph the site.

1 comment:

crosby said...

good info, thanks murph. see your threadbare green self on the road on friday.