There’s plenty of hand wringing in my city about traffic
lights that don’t detect bicycles. Maybe the hand wringing is more about what
to do in the case of a red light that won’t change to green. We’re good people.
We don’t want to be scofflaws.
One common answer to this problem is to “just turn right.” Here are my 4 favorite arguments against "just turn right."
1. Red lights that need actuation are almost always lights
that govern intersections where a lower traffic volume road is crossing a
higher volume road. This type of intersection is just the sort that attracts riders who prefer the relative peace of low traffic roadways. The invitation to “just turn
right” is often an invitation to leave a 2,000 vehicle per day road and join a
30,000 vehicle per day road. This is unacceptable.
2. In the circle below is the intersection of Dardanella Road and Marion Road.
A rider approaching from the west to cross Marion Road must wait for the light to
be actuated. The "just turn right" solution follows the red line, a distance of approximately 5
miles to go a net 50 feet.
3. Below is the intersection of Grange and 12th
Street. A rider approaching from the north to turn left for some Black Sheep
Coffee must actuate the light. A "just turn right" solution is not legal because
turning right from the left lane is not legal and crossing two lanes of roadway to turn right is not safe.
4. Below is the intersection of 12th Street and Main
Avenue. Main Avenue is one way from north to south. Riders approaching from the
east must actuate the light. A “just turn right” solution here is not legal
because riding the wrong way on a one-way is not legal.
Speaking of scofflaw. It's written in city
ordinance: "Every person driving a bicycle shall have all of the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle by this Code..." I assume working traffic controls are a right that drivers expect.
Yay! StateFarm finally has mileage based insurance rates discounts! Based on the information on this webpage, the less I drive the greater my discount. The piece of resistance would be if my car travels only 500 miles a year I could save up to 45% of my premium.
$106 dollars a year. Cool! Unfortunately, my cold harsh reality is I can expect to maybe qualify for a $77 annual discount.
StateFarm receives mileage data from the OnStar service. Assuming my car is OnStar equipped (it is) and I already subscribe (I don't) I'm good to go. Sign me up, right? The least expensive rate for OnStar requires a 3 year commitment costing $166 annually. Woops! I can save $77 a year on insurance by spending $166 a year for OnStar?
Let's say I already shell out $166 a year for OnStar, enjoying all their services and diagnostics and what nots. That would seem to make sense right? I already have OnStar, I already enjoy it. Now I'm getting $77 bucks back for my auto insurance because of it.
Win win win, right?
Not so fast. As I decrease my driving I'm far less likely to need automatic crash response, emergency services, hands-free calling, roadside assistance, remote services and vehicle diagnostics. So the value I get from my OnStar service decreases as I get more I get from my discount.
I have a solution!
StateFarm should get my mileage from the NSA. They likely have that information through my cell phone anyway. I think it's about time the NSA gives me something back!
Today I delivered this to planners and consultants associated with the I-229 Exit 5 (26th Street) Crossroad Corridor Study project. If you find yourself nodding as you read it jump over to http://www.26thstreetcorridorstudy.com/getinvolved.html, leave a supportive comment, and Get Involved.
Local riders will want to pay particular attention to the proposed changes proximity to the bridge in Riverdale Park.
January 15 Study Open House there was an invitation to provide ideas and
thoughts about ways to provide access to Rotary, Pasley Park, and the bike
trail. Just in case nobody reads past the first 10 sentences I’ve summarized my
thoughts as succinctly as possible at the beginning.
You must preserve the bridge that connects Riverdale Park with the bike trail near I-229. I fear that interchange option 5A overlooks this.
24th Street provides excellent access to the bike trail and parks without the need to utilize 26th Street.
A 26th & Southeastern intersection with increased capacity and efficiency is mostly only attractive to people in cars.
I propose a pedestrian bridge and multi-use path connecting the area around 33rd & Yeager Road to the bike trail bridge over the river near the Tuthill Lift Station.
This pedestrian bridge provides some useful hidden benefits.
First and of primary importance – your option 5a for the interchange concerns
me greatly because I fear losing an important bike trail access point. There is
a bridge crossing that connects Riverdale Park to the bike trail. Your exit
ramp begins near the footing of this bridge. You must not remove this bridge.
It would be a step backward to infringe on people’s ability to get to the bike
The red line indicates existing trail adjacent to the bridge footing. The yellow is the beginning of the proposed exit ramp.
Now consider for a moment 24th Street and the way it enables pedestrian and
bicycle access to Rotary and Cherry Rock Parks because of the bridge at
Riverdale Park. The neighborhood north of 26th Street can access the bike trail
without the adventure that is 26th Street, I-229 and Southeastern Drive.
The red lines indicate 24th Street east of Cliff Ave to the bike trail.
As a walker I cannot view increased efficiency and capacity at any 40,000
vehicle per day intersection as an improvement. 41st & Louise is hardly
enjoyable. The improved 57th & Western intersection
killed arguably our city’s most experienced walker in its first months. As a bicycle rider I would
much rather navigate a congested 26th & Southeastern area because drivers
must be alert and paying attention to their surroundings. I certainly heard
clearly one meeting attendee mirroring the common mindset that unregulated
right turns off I-229 and onto Southeastern would serve people well. This is a
nightmare for anyone not surrounded by 4,000 pounds of glass and steel.
Second, I propose we mirror the function of 24th Street to the south of 26th
Street. Do this with a pedestrian bridge and multi-use path connecting a point
somewhere in the 33th Street & Yeager Road area to the bike trail bridge
over the river near the Tuthill Park Lift Station. A pedestrian bridge
here would allow access to Tuthill and Pasley Parks from the west. The
neighborhood south of 26th Street would benefit directly.
The red line indicates my proposed pedestrian bridges over I-229 and asphalt multi-use trail connecting the bridge to another bridge by the Tuthill Lift Station.
There are three additional less obvious benefits from having a pedestrian
neighborhood directly west of Lincoln High School would benefit. Between
Arcadia Road & 38th Street there is a signal protecting pedestrian crossing
of Cliff Ave. The synergy of the Cliff Ave crossing and the Interstate crossing
is the sort of “connection making” that planners and engineers should dream about.
Walkers and bicycle riders currently achieve access to the bike trail and
Tuthill Park by navigating the horrible unfriendly interchange that is Cliff
Ave and I-229. With this bridge the park system could be shared with residents in
this part of the city without directing them through the convergence of Cliff
Ave, 41st Street, and I-229.
Access to the river park system along the southern portion of the I-229 Corridor
is woefully insufficient. A bridge would dramatically improve the situation. It’s
time to continue to increase lower traffic volume crossings of I-229.
There are existing crossings at 6th, 12th and 18th
Streets. Travelling further south there is not another opportunity for
pedestrian and bike friendly crossing except for the new bridge connecting
Solberg and Tallgrass Aves.
Please, let’s not miss this opportunity to advance our friendliness to people
who would like to travel by foot and bicycle.
MPO Citizen Advisory Committee Vice-Chair
League Certified Cycling Instructor
Falls Area Bicyclists Education Committee
Sioux Falls Bicycle Committee Member
Well, actually I left my name, address and a bunch of text in the form. But I thought the text was important, in the sense that relatively few people involved in the study will offer the same thoughts I do. And heck, even though the game is rigged, there's no way cyclists and win if they don't play.
I like to play.
Here are the comments I submitted:
Please include Cliff Ave in the study: because the Cliff Ave
interchange is so similar to the Minnesota Ave interchange I am surprised that
it is not being included in this study. I understand there may be vehicular
factors that logically cause its exclusion, however the issues faced by
pedestrians and bicyclists are the same as Minnesota Ave interchange. Consider bike & pedestrian volume and crash data in
your analysis, please.
Minnesota Ave & Cliff Ave proximity to bike trail:
please recognize and plan to include better movement or access from north of
I-229 to the bike trail south of I-229. I-229 blocks a major path of desire for
non-motorized access to the city's best and more frequently used park feature.
Fix it. Add width to the outside lanes on Minnesota Ave. Add better sidewalk
visibility and controls.
Bridges: add pedestrian bridges over I-229 south from West
Ave, south from Phillips Ave, and east from 35th St. It’s hard for
me to believe justification exists for the pedestrian bridge west from Teem
Drive over I-29 that doesn’t exists for any of these three possibilities.
A The MinusCar Project hero has died. Most people
would know him as the guy they see walking all the time in the 49th St
& Kiwanis Ave area. His fatal injury at 57th & Western is a
reminder to me that the work of making streets more safe for riders
and walkers is not only good for people who own $3000 bicycles - it is
also work necessary to do for voiceless people who own shoes.
consider it likely that this summer’s reconfiguration and added
capacity of the 57th & Western intersection may have been enough to
confuse a guy who'd walked through that intersection 1,000 times before.
Sure, they say he was crossing against a light – as a guy who’s done a
fair bit of transportational walking in this city – to me, crossing
against a light means quite a few more things than simply, he was doing
How we build our streets matters. To most of us it
matters because we want to get to and from work as fast as possible
because driving sucks do badly. To people like David, streets matter
because walking itself is what brought him life.
To people like me it matters because a person cannot have life and liberty if the consequence of pursuing happiness is so high.
To Kevin Rogers, James McInnes and now David Stitt – I toast you all and continue to believe you all deserved better.
You're sitting at a very large round table with the White House appointed Federal Highway Administrator. Also at the table are the highest level of state and local transportation officials. You are a transportation hobbyist, a dude who rides his bike around, and maybe you're the only one there that isn't in a suit.
Plopped in my inbox was a request for comment regarding a post, "Riverdale Park chain of death" by the very famous South DaCola blogger. The post identifies the very legitimate concern of a chain being placed across a road in Riverdale Park. A road very popular to riders accessing the bike trail loop.
Telling is Detroit Lewis' response when informed via an anonymous comment that the chain had been removed. "That’s because the [Argus Leader] was going to do a story about it." No, it's because you posted about it on your blog. Dude, learn to declare victory. You deserve it.
Here is my full original response to the full content of South DaCola post:
Thanks for the link to that post. I read it with interest. I have
not heard anything about that chain at Riverdale Park or anyone running
into the chain. Surely an invisible chain across a path of desire is a hazard and
ought to be remedied. It's only a concern to me if parks refuses to
remedy it. It is my experience that they are responsive to issues like
Hopefully the person who ran into the chain did the
responsible thing and reported it to The City. Also hopefully the person
who ran into the chain did it within the hours of operation of the park
- hours that tend to be during daylight. Hopefully the person who ran
into the chain, if it was night, was riding with proper lights, fore and
As far as the bike friendliness of the city goes: I
ride a few thousand miles each year within the city limits and I rarely
have bad experiences. Most bad experiences come from sidewalk riding or
riding on the road unpredictably or too far to the right.
As far as The City receiving awards: the League of
American Bicyclists awarded Sioux Falls the Bronze Level Bicycle
Friendly Community award a few years ago. The City applied for this
award. The League reviewed the application. The League invited the local
cycling community to weigh in on the application. The League selected
Sioux Falls as a winner. This award is up for renewal right now and the
same process is being followed.
The best way to make the city more bike friendly for
local riders is for local riders to become involved in making the city
more bike friendly. The City planning department meets regularly with
riders to get input and feedback about city government bicycle plans and
efforts. Most of the riders willing to put time and effort into a bike
friendly Sioux Falls go to these meetings.
The local bike club Falls Area Bicyclists (FAB) is in
need of board members and regular members who are willing to put effort
in to making Sioux Falls more bicycle friendly. The FAB board is poised
for radical change this fall and can use the help of a few energetic
The worst way to make the city more bike friendly for
local riders is for local riders to go out riding thinking someone else
is doing the work...
If you'd like more commentary please call me.
League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor #2540
I was out and about today during rush hour. I missed a turn and found myself trying to cross 41st Street on Spring Ave instead of the nearby controlled Norton Ave intersection.
It quickly became apparent that it would be more safe to turn right than to try to cross five lanes of traffic. So I joined the Avid Drivers of 41st Street Traffic.
In this sort of situation two things are paramount. Predictability and visibility.
The picture above is from a few minutes later at 37th & Minnesota Ave. When that light turns green what is everybody going to do? Who's turning right? Who's going straight? Would you bet that rider's life on it? Some drivers would - but really most drivers just plain can't see him.
Here's my view of 41st Street. I'm about 5 car lengths from Minnesota Ave. This is my second light cycle. By now I've had time to meet everyone around me. We've posed for photos, given each other nods, talked up our kids.
Even the driver way up there across the intersection that might possibly be crossing my path when they turn left has gotten used to the idea of me being there.
And then, as if to affirm my visibility Falls Area Singletrack board member and friend Brad, two cars ahead stuck his head out his window, turned around, and waved hello.
Use the full lane. Visibility matters.
Incidentally I got to wave back at Brad when I turned left and passed him at the Phillips Ave intersection. Rush hour traffic is great because everybody moves slow.
The Boy 15 and I have been practicing our urban riding a lot this summer. Lots of people learn to ride when they're 5. Kids in my house don't learn to ride until after Driver's Ed and a whole bunch of stopping at red lights and stop signs. Plenty of right and left turn signaling. Controlling and sharing lanes - only when it's safe - and the occasional negotiation with a driver.
This route features lots of residential roads, some 40 mph arterials, some multi-use trail and a little bit of playground. There's a full service bike lane and some shared bike/car parking pavement markings.
There is gravel in the intersections, water in the corners, and cracks in the street.
Also, he's becoming quite the riding buddy. He's learning when it's cool to ride close and when it's not.
My Strava KOM is also here - so we do get to race to a summit.
"Traffic Skills 101 (TS101) gives cyclists the confidence they need to
ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. Through TS101,
students learn how to conduct bicycle safety checks, fix a flat, on-bike
skills and crash avoidance techniques. We recommended this class for
adults and children above age fourteen. The curriculum is fast-paced,
nine-hours, and prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular
City councilor Greg Jamison says:
League of American Bicyclists: Smart Cycling: Traffic Skills 101
I read this statement to the Citizen Advisory Committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization. It went ok. Maybe this statement has a brighter future than I thought...
In light of a recent well reported incident involving a bike rider and a truck driver I’d like to take a few minutes of your time and remind you of a few things about safe bicycle riding.
First, people on bicycles fare best when they act like and are treated like drivers of other vehicles. The two major factors that go into people on bikes acting like vehicles are riding visibly and riding predictably.
A person on a bicycle that is stopped at an intersection or riding down the road is most safe when they have positioned their body in the lane similarly to where they would be if they were driving a car. This position communicates the future direction of travel - predictability - and allows the rider to see and be seen by all other drivers on the road - visibility.
People might ask - what about riding to the right? Indeed the law requires riders to ride to the right when it’s safe. The law describes many situations that are not safe, including when a lane cannot be safely shared side by side with another vehicle. How wide is safe? Drivers vehicles are at least 7 feet of width, riders are 3. Add some space to the drivers left to keep away from cars, add some space to the drivers right to keep away from the rider. Now we’re over 14 feet - most lanes in the city are 10 or 12 feet wide and not safe.
People might ask - what about riding on high volume roads? High volume roads are intimidating to many. However, high volume roads can limit the speed and sudden movements of drivers. A competent, visible and predictable rider can often intermingle with traffic more easily in high volume situations.
I have two requests...
First, please be supportive of safe, responsible and legal cycling. Do this in your conversations with citizens. If a person complains to you about all the nasty bicycles - ask questions. Find out if the complainer is talking about visible and predictable cycling. If they are, respond informatively. This costs nothing and contributes to the well being of the community.
Second, it is an institutional design choice that the only way to get into the city from the south and west is by travelling on high volume arterial roads. You are people who can begin to change this. If you need help imagining something different consider the 12th and 18th Street bridges over I-229 to the east or the pedestrian bridge over I-29 in the northwest.
Mostly though, I ask that you be supportive of predictable and visible cycling.
I recorded this quite a while ago and kept it private because I didn't like a bit of it. Today I watched again and my standards must be lower so I'm publishing it. The proposed laws I talk about are now REAL laws.
It's a narrated bike video journey on west 26th Street, Louise Ave and 41st Street. In it I demonstrate lanes that are wide enough to safely share and lanes that are not.