Two weeks ago, I found myself standing on Sterling Road looking at Jenna Morrison’s twisted bicycle. Just a couple of hours earlier, she had been crushed under the wheels of a large cargo truck, at a tight intersection with no markings for cyclists.
Yesterday, I went back to the site with my buddy James Schwartz (local advocate and blogger). We wanted to measure the street and see if there was enough room at the intersection for a proper bike lane. The answer is YES. There is actually ample room for proper bike lanes – in both directions (9.6 metres is required).
But we went a step further. We also wanted to see how traffic would behave, with a bike lane. So we picked up pieces of trash that were lying around and created our own bike lane (also taking advantage of the bike symbols that have been painted by community members since Jenna’s death).
Would cars and trucks respect the lines? Is there enough room for a large truck to make a wide turn without impeding on the bike lane? Can all vehicles – bikes, cars and trucks – share this intersection safely with proper markings? Sadly, the answer is yes – on all counts. Too late for Jenna. But not too late for this to be a wake-up call. Bike lanes save lives. They create a safe space, they keep motor vehicles away from bikes, and most importantly, they raise awareness of all road users – that they are sharing space with others.
Check out James’ blog post from today for more details about our experiment.
And here are some of my own pics showing how a well-designed intersection can work. The spot on the right, is where Jenna died.