Thursday, February 24, 2011

Musings on When Streets Meet--Dangerous Crossings

What are the easy or hard street crossings that I encounter in Cedar Rapids during my daily commute?

Most are fairly easy. Much of my commute is along a quite stretch of E Avenue, where the busiest and diciest place is Kenwood School, but parents dropping off second graders don't seem to be Indy drivers, and so far, although I have to slow down and stay alert, the busy mornings at Kenwood had not been a problem.

I encounter several 4-ways stops on my route, and, to be honest, do treat them as "California" stops--I slow way down, watch and listen, and proceed if no traffic is coming. If there is a car in the cross street, I simply try to follow "car" rules--come to a full stop and whoever was there first has the right of way.

Whether headed home or to work, the most exciting intersection is C and Blair's Ferry. The intersection does have button-activated crosswalk lights, which I use, but drivers, particularly those turning right while facing you, vary a lot in terms of whether they care that there is a biker with a walk light cycling through the intersection.

Still, while exciting, that intersection does have a light. Near Mount Mercy University, I pass through the 27th Street-Prairie Drive intersection, which was the site of a fatal accident last year. I often see students on cell phones waiting at the stop signs on Prairie, and they don't always look for bikes very well. I think that intersection would be a lot safer as a 4-way stop (and I think the intersection of 29th and Prairie needs a traffic light due to heavy traffic coming from MMU and proceeding along 29th). I try to be on guard and careful, but I've nearly been creamed at that corner a few times.

Besides those two corners, there is one that's dicey in the morning, but not so problematic on the way home. Travelling south to MMU in the a.m., I turn right when I get to 32nd Street, and 1 1/2 blocks later turn left from 32nd to Lindale Avenue.

That stretch of 32nd is both narrow and busy, which makes it exciting, and then I have to wait at the corner for a chance to quickly dart left down Lindale. I try to be careful, but I'm looking over my shoulder to see traffic headed west down 32nd, and the gaps in the morning are never large.

Beyond those three corners, my commute is not too bad. I've blogged before about the lights on F Avenue where I have to wait for cars to trigger them, and I supposed the F-Collins Road intersection might be work it's own blog post sometime (you have to really know the lights and anticipate changes--particularly if you have to "steal" the light from oncoming traffic exiting Rockwell Collins because you know your bike won't trigger the light ... well, another day).

Anyway, watch for a brief post on this blog tomorrow, I've decided to do a "commuter log" which will just sum up the days and hours ridden each week, which I intend to post on Fridays.

Happy biking!

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