Many families of young children were disappointed with the City Council’s decision to scrap the two-way cycle tracks on Chorro Street, primarily because they felt deprived of a safe bike route for their children. But their perception of safety may well have been an illusion.
Bike accidents have actually increased during the post-project learning curve in some cities where two-way cycle tracks were installed. One of the causes of potential accidents, though, goes beyond the learning curve phase: left turns across the cycle track. Backing out of driveways was often mentioned, but left turns into driveways and streets may be even more hazardous.
Left-turning drivers would effectively make a maneuver equivalent to a left turn from the right lane, as cyclists will be passing them on their left. And to make matters worse, cyclists will be in a very large side-mirror blind spot because of their distance (15 to 18 feet) from the turning vehicle. Drivers will need to look left over their shoulders to check for cyclists. But if they have neck flexibility issues, they may not get a complete view of their blind spot. Two-way cycle tracks can be safe on certain streets. Chorro is not one of them.
Barry Rands, San Luis Obispo
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