Pedestrian Safety / Bicyclist Courtesy
The nearly completed has improved pedestrian access and safety in downtown Mystic, which is a really good thing, since there are not a lot of drive-through windows in Mystic's shops and stores. Mystic is pedestrian-dependant.
often feel that they have it tough, but in most towns and nearly all cities, pedestrians have the toughest problems regarding street use. Bicycle riders should keep this in mind and stop for pedestrians who are in crosswalks, and for goodness sake Keep off of the side walks unless you are walking your bike.
These rules should be followed for three reasons:
- Connecticut Statutes that govern bicycle and pedestrian road and sidewalk use require sidewalk bicyclists to act as pedestrians
- It is the civil way to behave
- Beyond the civility and legal issues, bicycling on the sidewalk is many, many times more likely to result in a crash and serious injury to the bicyclist than is riding in the road in the direction of traffic because vehicles pulling in and out of driveways and side streets are not anticipating faster-moving bicycles on the pedestrian sidewalk. (Everything occurring in traffic to the right of the traffic lane, including the sidewalk, is in a high-conflict area, and is especially dangerous for bicycle riders.)
Avoid the Deadly "Door Zone"
Being "doored" (hit by an opened vehicle door, resulting in either sudden stop or being thrown under passing traffic) is one of the most deadly types of bicycle crashes. Bicycling safety experts recommend that bicyclists ride at least 5' from the side of parallel-parked cars. The formerly recommended 4' clearance is now (correctly) seen as inadequate, and some experts are recommending 6' clearance. By standard for bicycle facilities design adopted by our Connecticut DOT, a "share-able" lane is at least 14' wide, and preferred width is 16'. In order to safely "share" the lane with motor vehicles through downtown Mystic, a traffic lane would have to be at least 19' wide measured from parked car to road centerline, and as much as 21' wide for ideal purposes (allowing a truck to safely pass a cyclist). Since these conditions in no way come close to what we have in downtown Mystic, a bicyclist will find that the safe lane position for him/her is in the center of the lane or the left tire track in the lane. Bicycle drivers who weave in and out among parked cars and who ride in the parked car "door zone" are risking severe injury or death.
Left Turns from the Right Gutter?!?! Noooooooooo!
I was stopped in my car at the stop sign to turn left at the intersection of Coogan Boulevard with Jerry Browne Road when a bicycle rider came down the hill riding in the gutter (to the right of the white road lane edge stripe) on JBR, and then made a no-signal turn left onto CB. Fortunately I anticipated his illegal and ill-advised move and did not pull out to make my left turn, as many drivers, assuming he was continuing straight, might have done. A combination of four dangerous circumstances are often enough to get a cyclist killed or severely injured: 1) riding a fast downhill road fat to the right (inviting close passes and with diminished chance to avoid obstacles in the gutter), 2) riding without a helmet, and 3) turning left from the right road edge 4) without even signaling. Lucky for him I identified his behavior as dangerous and anticipated his dangerous, un-signaled turn.
New Mystic Streetscape Improves Safety
Our New Mystic Streetscape greatly improves safety for all road users if road users use it as it was designed for. Walking, bicycling, and driving are each safe activities when done mind fully and when behavior is appropriate and safe. The same activities become dangerous when behavior is unsafe. All our roads are safe for all road users when they are used properly.
Let's not blame the mode of travel or the vehicle or device for unsafe behavior, and lets learn to be civil when we use our public streets.
Streets are for people.
But Where is the Bicycle Parking?
(Or do we want bikes locked to street signs and blocking our new sidewalks?)