Sunday, June 8, 2014

an exercise in futility (because politically, it's easier to do something stupid than to do nothing).

Dear Mayor Robinson and members of the Santa Cruz City Council,

Please DO NOT fund a pilot program to install green bike boxes and green lanes at intersections.  These treatments DO NOT make cyclists safer.

Advocacy groups like People Power keep saying green bike boxes improve cyclists safety, but this is not the case.  Bike boxes do not prevent right-hook collisions. They will increase the likelihood of right-hook collisions as they will entice cyclists to ride to the right of right-turning vehicles as illustrated in this video,

where they will be injured or killed. Cyclists that ride to the right of traffic, but don’t make it to the bike box in time before the light turns green will get right-hooked by right-turning motorists.

The solution to preventing right-hook collisions is for cyclists to leave the bike lane and queue up with cars or pass right turning cars on the left instead of the right.  Motorists should merge into the bike lane or make right turns close to the right edge of the roadway as is required of motorists by the California Vehicle Code (CVC 21717).

Other cities such as Portland, OR have experimented with bike boxes and they have largely been a failure for cyclists. The evidence so far is that the rate of right-hook collisions are INCREASING (not decreasing) at some Portland green bike box intersections ("Right-hook crashes increasing -- not decreasing -- at some Portland green bike boxes"). And in some cases cyclists have been killed by right-hook collisions at these intersections in Portland ("Bike box at scene of deadly downtown crash").

Several years ago a cyclist (John Myslin) was killed in a right-hook collision with a truck on Mission Street.  The police report found the cyclist at fault, which largely immunized the city from the lawsuit that followed.  If the city paints green bike boxes on our streets and a cyclist is killed again in a right-hook collision at one of these intersections, will the city be liable?

I understand that politically is “feels good” to “do something” for cyclists.  But green bike boxes are not the right thing to do.

For a bike-friendly Santa Cruz, please do not fund a program to paint green bike boxes on our streets.

Mark Nockleby

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