Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Contraflow Cycling is coming to UCLA

Taking your bicycle to North Campus, to Bunche Hall, to Public Affairs, Urban Planning, along Dodd Hall, to the Art History Library or to attend the meeting of the Bicycle Academy at Lu Valle Commons (BTW, our next meeting is on Thursday, 8 October 2015 at 12 noon at Lu Valle), a certain sense of guilt might accompany the cyclist. Guilt in the sense that the direct path up Portola Plaza is, legally speaking, wrong-way-cycling.

20 September 2015: Wrong Way: Do Not Enter
Heavy duty signage, fit for an interstate off-ramp, red and loud and in duplicate

This sense of guilt or embarrassment also affects the UCLA cyclist insofar as he identifies with his campus but finds no shortage of cycling arrangements which could be improved. So many small steps are still needed to optimize our campus for those on bikes! One such small step has now been taken at Portola Plaza. If the signs on the ground don't deceive us, here the waiting is over soon. The ONE-WAY lettering on the ground has already been erased and the bicycle road marking has been painted precisely where the engineer has left his telltale instruction which resembles a pair of cherries. Contraflow Cycling is coming to UCLA: Guilt-free cycling up north Portola Plaza.

A palimpsest of road lettering: ONE WAY yields to contraflow (looking south)

A spray-painted "pair-of-cherries" bike marks the place for a fully fledged bicycle symbol 

And here is a preview of the pieces still missing to mark a important step for UCLA cycling.

http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com/signs/bikes-ok-sign/sku-k-8387.aspx $17.51 volume discounts available

Our campus is a big and complex machine: two years went by between the proposal and the implementation of this new arrangement. Two graduation seasons have come and gone, but now Portola Plaza is ready. Contraflow Cycling exempts cycling traffic from "One-Way" and "No Entry" signage. The legalization of two-way cycling on one-way streets has been very successful in urban areas in Europe. In many cities (and across some entire countries: Belgium, France) it has become the default for all (all!) one-way streets.

A wider use of "No entrance except cyclists" or "Bikes OK" creates a slight advantage for people on bikes. It advertises a small privilege for those who choose sustainable modes for their journeys. It helps to tilt the traffic system a little bit towards healthy modes. The introduction of contraflow cycling at Portola Plaza also recognizes that it is very difficult to direct bicycle traffic here in the same way in which you can direct cars through a one-way system. People on bikes will always default to the shortest path, just as they will default to the path with the least gradient. Contraflow cycling has sometimes been associated with higher incidence of collisions, but where it has been properly evaluated, it actually seems to reduce the risk of traffic collisions.

The new arrangement helps to regularize an informal cycling practice that would be hard to enforce. The signage alerts drivers to the presence of bicycles, it shows that UCLA Transportation takes support for healthy modes seriously, it is not expensive, and it could become a precedent for similar arrangements in the wider LA region. Well done!

1 comment:

Velocipedus said...