Design Template by Bikingtoronto

« Decadent | Main | Thursday Morning Commute »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

When traffic engineers truly practice their craft, right of way assignments are made from traffic volumes not from traffic types. I suspect there are some trail crossings along the Capital Crescent Trail where trail volume is greater than road volume, and there we have a legitimate argument that they should be controlled to give right of way to trail users.

This seems to me to be very simplistic argument, and not an argument that we want to make as cyclists or pedestrians. Doesn't this amount to saying that there shouldn't be crosswalks unless pedestrian traffic exceeds motor traffic?

Getting high volumes of traffic through is but one of many traffic engineering imperatives. In some situations, it is necessary to give pedestrians right-of-way from time to time (using a signal, for example) so that they have an opportunity to cross safely, irregardless of volume. Similarly, thoroughfares have stoplights so that vehicles on side streets (which represent low volume) can get across.

I just don't buy this argument that traffic engineering is essentially about privileging high volume over low volume. That's only part of the story.

That being said, the mid-block crossing idea is interesting.

This reasoning does not apply in Maryland, as of last year. The definition of "crosswalk" in the state Transportation Code was changed so that it includes not only the extension of the lines of sidewalks at street intersections, but also the extension of lines of a "bicycle way" - a defined term that includes shared use paths like the Capital Crescent Trail - where the bicycle way meets a street. In other words, in Maryland, there is a legal croswalk at the intersection of a bike trail and a street or road, whether or not there is a marked crosswalk.

See Maryland Code Transportation Article, Section 21-101.

NeilB, I think part of the point is that having a crosswalk or a bicycle way, and then giving them a stop sign creates two contradictory set of rules. A stop sign means stop and a crosswalk means stop so what are people to do? Either build a bikeway with no stop sign or treat it as an intersection with a stop sign.

As to who should get priority, I think volume should be one consideration, but not the only one.

I agree with you that having a trail crossing with a crosswalk and with a stop or yield sign aimed at the trail users is confusing and contradictory. What I was saying in my earlier post is that in Maryland, simply removing the crosswalk markings does not remove the ambiguity, because as a matter of law, the crosswalk is still there. I think your original post is correct that the only way to stop trail traffic legally is to install a traffic signal.

Also, I'll take a stab at speculating at the rights and duties of a cyclist at a mid-block crossing where there is no crosswalk: I think it would be the same as entering a street from a driveway: stop before entering the street (or before entering the sidewalk, if there is one) yield to all traffic on the street before proceeding.

@guez nails the issue here:

In some situations, it is necessary to give pedestrians right-of-way from time to time (using a signal, for example) so that they have an opportunity to cross safely, irregardless of volume.

The problem--as anyone who rides on regional trails knows--is not with trail crossings of low-volume streets. It's with unsignaled crossings of high-volume streets, where you might wait an hour without an opportunity to safely cross.

Scratch that: the problem can also be medium-volume and low-volume crossings *with* pedestrian signals that permit pedestrian/cyclist ROW every 2-3 minutes. That's an invitation to jaywalking.

NeilB, this is not my post. Check the easy-to-miss byline - which for some reason is only visible on the homepage.

A stop sign at a crosswalk is not contradictory (in the absence of other traffic controls). It means that trail users must stop before entering the crosswalk. Once in the crosswalk vehicles must yield or stop as required by state law.

A stop sign at a crosswalk is not contradictory (in the absence of other traffic controls). It means that trail users must stop before entering the crosswalk.

A stop sign is not a traffic control that applies to pedestrians.

Also, I'll take a stab at speculating at the rights and duties of a cyclist at a mid-block crossing where there is no crosswalk: I think it would be the same as entering a street from a driveway: stop before entering the street (or before entering the sidewalk, if there is one) yield to all traffic on the street before proceeding.

I think that's right. And that seems to be the behavior that the people who control the trails around here want.

Instead of making people uncomfortable by removing the marked crosswalks, why not put the stop sign on the road?

I'll just add that I think that removing marked crosswalks, regardless of its virtues as policy, is a political no-go. The mom contingent is not going to buy the argument that their kids are better protected when they don't have right of way.

Regardless of these right-of-way issues, having crosswalks makes the trail crossing more visible to automobile drivers. If you get rid of the crosswalks, you should figure out some other way to make trail crossing more obvious.

Maybe I'm reading this wrong, but WHY would we want to remove the ROW for peds and cyclists at trail crossings? Particularly on the heavily trafficked W&OD? Is it already April?

In Maryland, an unmarked mid-block sidewalk crosswalk would have the same right of way as if it were marked. But if there is no sidewalk perpendicular to the street, then it is not a crosswalk unless it is marked. But riding a bike in the crosswalk gives you no rights of way., though walking a bike would.

Would a multiuse trail count as a sidwalk? I don't think so. The definition of a crosswalk is clear and it does not mention multiuse trail.

If that is the case, then the idea would work, if the goal were to unambiguously ensure that people walking their bike accross the street do not have the right of way. I don't see any reason to do this, however. And as mentioned, bikes don't have right of way in Maryland anyway, unless the road has a stop sign and th etrail does not.

Why not remove the stop sign instead of removing the crosswalk? According to VA law: "No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic." By removing crosswalks you give police another excuse for blaming pedestrians and cyclists for contributing to a crash. The current law is clear.

What do we do about cases where the pedestrian was crossing at a legal, but unmarked, cross walk, and is hit? A few years back a pedestrian was killed where 16th St hits the DC line, and was apparently at a legal crossing point, but was blamed.

Would a multiuse trail count as a sidewalk? I don't think so. The definition of a crosswalk is clear and it does not mention multiuse trail.

Jim, where are you getting that idea? Here's the definition of a crosswalk:

(i) Crosswalk.- "Crosswalk" means that part of a roadway that is:

(1) Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at any place where 2 or more roadways of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway;

(2) Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of a bicycle way where a bicycle way and a roadway of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or

(3) Distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings.



Bruce W wrote:
"The current law is clear."

I don't see how you can say that. In DC we've got the NPS putting up signs saying trail users must yield to roadway traffic, and in Northern Virginia the Post is quoting officials saying the same thing -- even though in both jurisdictions the law doesn't support their position. Meanwhile, over in Maryland, the law is so convoluted nobody knows for sure what it says, but if anything it's less favorable to cyclists. Yet they've put up bollards where the Capital Crescent crosses Little River Parkway telling motorists to stop, and now pretty much all drivers yield to trail users.

What's being proposed is a system where rather than having an absolute rule about right of way there is the flexibility to assign it to either direction based on the circumstances. If ROW should go to the roadway, then no crosswalk and signs on the trail telling trail users they have to yield. (I think it's a perversion to use stop signs for this application). If trail users have right of way, then paint a crosswalk and put up bollards in the roadway.

What's important is getting the people responsible for putting up these traffic controls actually thinking about what is supposed to be happening at these crossings -- and in particular, thinking of cyclists and pedestrians as travelers with transportation needs rather than just as obstacles to motorists. If you look at the way these trail crossings are treated it's obvious that not a lot of thought is going into them, and that what thinking is there is terribly one-sided.

@JJJ:

Instead of making people uncomfortable by removing the marked crosswalks, why not put the stop sign on the road?

Better yet, put a yield sign on the road and enforce it with the fullest weight of the law.

I agree with contrarian: the law is far from clear, and the load-dependent rights further muddy it.
For example, while the written law says that pedestrians and bikes have certain rights, such as at a cross-walk, you have contrary signs telling pedestrians to stop or yield. You also have the law as it is practiced, in which failure to yield by cars is very rarely punished. By comparison, a pedestrian/cyclist who asserts his rights might get killed, and even blamed for it, especially since the police do not appear to apply the law correctly.

For example, teenagers Codi Alexander and Alexis Smith were both killed (at different times) on the same clearly marked and visible cross walk. In neither case was the driver charged.

I drive as the law is written, but I ride my bike as the law is practiced.

@NeilB: As you probably guessed, I was looking at the pre-2010 definition of crosswalk. That being the case, the Maryland law is already quite simple for trail crossings.
1. Cyclists on the trail must yield to vehicles on the bouldevard.
2. Vehicles on the boulevard must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk (which would include someone walking a bike).
3. Pedestrians must assume that drivers will ignore the requirement to stop at the crosswalk except when police, school buses, crossing guards, or orange cones.

Mischief comes by the pound and goes away by the ounce.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009

Categories

 Subscribe in a reader