Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cycling conundrum continues

Almost a year ago, I published a post called "The untold story of Dickinson Road". 
Here's a screengrab so that you don't have to load the URL. 
It's very dangerous because it's impossibly narrow, as you can see above.  And yet at the same time, it represents one the of the really good "straight shots" we have in League City, and thus has an irresistible allure for cyclists. 
Thursday evening around 5:45 p.m., I came upon these cyclists on Dickinson Road.  Pelotoning on one of the narrowest roads in League City and during rush hour to boot. 
 I snapped that fuzzy foto with my phone because I wanted to post it and say, "Aw, jeez, guys - don't do this.  Not on Dickinson Road.  Not during rush hour.  There are already two highway crosses just on this one stretch.  How many more would you like to see added?!"

And then less than two hours after I took that pic, a cyclist was hit by a truck in west League City (paywalled URL).   The newspaper reported that he was taken to the hospital with a head injury, which doesn't sound good. 

We are in late September, when the weather gets cooler and cyclists amp up their activity.  There are numerous bike fests coming up, including Bike Around the Bay in about two weeks, an event which is soaring in popularity. 

And people need to practice for these things.  The trouble is, there are no good places to practice around here.  In "The untold story of Dickinson Road", I talked about an allegation from local cyclists that the only relatively safe cycling spot in the League City area had been the interstate highway service road (feeder) between Dickinson and LaMarque.  But that was a couple of years ago, and in the intervening time, the Tanger Outlets were built, which substantially increased traffic on that segment.  Now they're left with basically nothing. 

Maybe someday we'll improve our development to incorporate something akin to complete streets.  Until that time, watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.  Especially when the weather turns cooler and more people are outside. 
In May of this year, Houston became the largest city in Texas to adopt a safe passing ordinance.  They did so by unanimous vote and as an  emergency measure, meaning it went into effect immediately. 

These types of laws are a nice start, but the obvious problem still remains:  most of our streets are simply not designed for multiple users.  They're designed for cars alone.

Graphic screengrabbed from this Houston Tomorrow post
League City could write analogous ordinances until it was blue in the face, but it wouldn't change the fact that Dickinson Road is not much wider than my outstretched arms.  Or that the IH-45 feeder is curbed with no shoulders that cyclists could hug while in traffic.  If someone in a motor vehicle tried to give a peloton a 3-foot berth on the Dickinson Road stretch shown above, I think they'd end up in the ditch. 

Image from Google Maps ground view.   
Screengrabbed from here.
Public outreach graphic from the state of Connecticut, which also has a 3-foot regulation. 
Ten people killed just within spittin' distance of Centerpointe and just between the years 2001 and 2009.  Ten vulnerable road users (cyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians). 

Screengrabbed from this site
Friend of a friend killed while in a peloton in 2003, not far from Centerpointe. 

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