Thursday, December 01, 2005

Protruding pipe hazard to cyclists

Yesterday, 30 November 2005, I was cycling north on the Mathews Avenue bicycle path in front of Smith Memorial Hall shortly before noon. Paying attention to the other pedestrians and cyclists on the ground near me, it was only at the last instant that I realized I was going to smash my head into a black pipe if I didn't quickly duck under it, which I did. A truck parked adjacent and perpendicular to the bike path was carrying several long pipes, one of which was so long it protruded at about head level (for a tall seated cyclist or a medium-sized one standing on the pedals) into the bike path. As I was late for a class, I left the scene and hoped that the truck would soon be moved before it caused an accident.

When I returned to the scene after class a bit before 1:00 pm, I saw that the truck with its pipe hazard was still there. I called campus police on my cell phone to report the hazard and the dispatcher said she would send someone to check it out. I waited for over 30 minutes, warning cyclists to "duck" before they reached the pipe. As the police still did not arrive, I attempted to push the pipe back, but it was cinched too tightly to the truck's carrying rack. I was able, however, to loosen to the rachet straps securing the load and push to long pipe back away from the bike path. This however, made it protrude from the rear of the truck and presented a hazared to traffic behind the truck which I judged less dangerous than leaving it protruding in to the bike path. I left a note on the truck's windshield informing the driver of the hazard and that I had pushed the pipe back.

I unfortunately did not have my camera with me to record the hazard. But I did note that the truck was from Automatic Fire Sprinklers (Tel. 888.781.9665) and the licence plate was Illinois 206879D. I called the number later that afternoon and reported the incident to the receptionist who appeared concerned.

I find it ironic that a company that is supposed reduce hazards would have an employee that would endanger others in this way. I also wonder if anyone from the campus police ever showed up and did anything about the truck with its dangerous load (like have it towed away).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dangerous Bike Paths

The bike path system on the UIUC campus certainly leaves a lot to be desired. It is narrow, poorly designed, poorly maintained and often disrespected by: (a) car drivers (pulling out of parking lots), (b) bus drivers (heading north on Wright and turning right on Green), (c) pedestrians (many of whom seem to prefer walking on it rather than the adjoining sidewalk), (d) Facility and Service workers and delivery truck drivers (who use it as a parking strip), and even by (e) cyclists (who often obstruct the path with parked bicycles, as on the southeast corner of Sixth and Gregory).

Here are some photos that bear witness to some of these problems. Having that emergency telephone right up against the bike path is real handy so you can call for an ambulance after riding your bike into it trying to avoid the cyclist coming the other way who is in the center of the lane avoiding the trash container on the other side--the trash container was originally covering part of the actual bike path and I had to use all my strength to push it off the path (I should have taken the photo first).

Obstructing Map on Pennsylvania at Maryland

It's always nice to have a campus map nearby to let you know where you are and how to get to where you are going. But it is not so nice to have a map prevent you from seeing what you may soon run into (or be run into by).

The campus map mounted on the Pennsylvania Avenue bike path near Maryland is a clear danger to both pedestrians and cyclists who use it and the intersecting pedestrian path.

The first photo is taken from the bike path heading west with a hidden pedestrian and cyclists about to emerge onto the bike bath (the two wheels of the bike are barely visible.

The second photo shows the obstructed view of the bike path from the pedestrian path.

This looks like another accident waiting to happen.

Armory and Wright: A Dangerous Mix of Buses, Pedestrians and Cyclists

Probably the most congested spot on campus is the corner of Armory and Wright where there coexists a heavy volume of buses, boarding and disembarking passengers, pedestrians and cyclists. I have seen cyclists trying to avoid the mess by leaving the bike path for street, some cycling the wrong way on this one-way street.

The bus island further north on Wright Street has helped a great deal to keep pedestrians and cyclists apart. Perhaps something could be done here, too.

Obstructing Traffic Signage at Sixth and Gregory

One of the most important factors in traffic safety is visiblity. Yet there are places on campus where vehicular traffic, cyclists and pedestrians have obstructed views of each other.

First, we see the view from the northeast corner of Gregory Drive and Sixth Street, with the photo taken at eye level looking west from where a pedestrian would likely stand waiting for the light to change (athough, in fact, students usually do not wait for the light the change, but cross whenever they believe the "coast is clear"). In this photo, the coast does seem clear (at least no traffic can be seen approaching from the left).

But the second photo shows the car that was behind the traffic signs in the first photo. Oops! The coast was not clear after all (this could hurt!).

The third photos shows that buses are actually big enough to be seen around the signs, if one takes the time to look carefully enough.

This intersection looks like an accident waiting to happen.

Delapidated Bike Racks

Just about all of the bike racks on campus that are near older buildings are quite delapidated.

The first photo shows the rack on the south side of the Education Building with a large number of loops missing.

The second photo shows the bike rack next to the Psychology building where most of the loops are gone.

The third photo shows two motorcycles on the north side of the Education building blocking a about 12 parking spaces for bicycles (they just happened to be parked in front of a section of the rack that still has loops).

With all the construction that has been done over the last several years on campus to accomodate cars (including two or three new parking decks), one must wonder why all these delapidated bike racks haven't be replaced with modern, high loops (like near the Beckman Institute) that allow easier locking of front and back wheels to the rack (I would guess the total cost would probably be less than that of a dozen or so parking spaces in a parking deck).

Gregory Drive at Genomic Construction Site

These photos were taken in September 2004 on Gregory Drive where bike and pedestrian paths cross next to the Genomic Institute construction site.

It can be seen that visibilty is poor for pedestrians and cyclists coming from the right (north), and poor for traffic heading west on Gregory. In the second photo, it can be seen that the cyclist's front wheel will be in the street before she will have an unobstructed view of traffic on Gregory approaching from her left.

After almost getting hit here by a bus on my bike, I complained that something should be done to make this spot safer. Stop signs were then installed to stop traffic on Gregory to protect the bike and pedestrian path.

It is hard to understand how the construction site was permitted to extend to the street edge with no consideration for the pedestrians and cyclists it obstructed. What unit on campus in charge of the placement of construction sites?