Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vienna bicycle safety

Vienna police appeared before the Town council last night to discuss bicycle safety once again. "Bicyclists plying sidewalks along heavily trafficked Maple Avenue are by far the likeliest to collide with vehicles, Vienna police officials told the Vienna Town Council at its Nov. 9 work session."

Similar information was presented to the council when changes to the Vienna Bikeway Plan were proposed. The solution then was to force bicyclists to yield to motorists, contrary to existing state law. Those changes were deferred until the Bicycle Advisory Committee could weigh in.

One good suggestion was received in the bicycle and pedestrian safety survey conducted by police: "Other residents suggested banning right turns on red along Maple Avenue. This would solve many of the bicycle crashes, but likely lead to sizable traffic backups, said Vienna Police Chief Robert Carlisle."

Most of the traffic in Vienna is along Maple Ave. While side street traffic is heavy, we don't feel it would be greatly affected by banning right on red, especially during rush hour when there is a continuous stream of traffic on Maple Ave. with few chances to turn right on red. We think this solution should be investigated further.

Allen Muchnick of Virginia Bicycling Federation made a good suggestion in his comment on the above news article. He noted that cyclists are "much safer when traveling on the roadway (even on Maple Ave and other busy roads) than on the adjacent sidewalk, and few roadway bicyclists know that, for their safety, they should control (i.e., ride near the center) of the right-most through travel lane, unless that lane is at least 14 feet wide and thus safely sharable laterally with a typical auto." He went on to state that "Town or VDOT should install shared-lane markings (aka "sharrows") in the center of both curb lanes to inform the public that these lanes are shared by bicyclists and motorists."

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