A Merge Too Far

I’ve written about the Glendale-Hyperion bridge before on this blog (here and here), but I never really looked hard enough at the problematic merge of the upper and lower decks of the bridge at the northern end.

The bridge will soon be refurbished, and, while some arcane requirement forbids the DOT (or so it claims) from removing any motor lanes, there’s plenty of room to narrow the median and the current lanes to make room for bike lanes. Sharrows might be needed under the Waverly overpass, but overall there’s just enough room. Narrow lanes would likely slow the wack-job drivers who career down the bridge at stupid speeds nowadays too. As the bridge is a direct connection between the bike-rich districts of Silver Lake and Atwater, it is going to be used by bicyclists, and we deserve safe and comfortable facilities as much as motorists, who are so much more wasteful of tax dollars anyway.

The problem lies at the Atwater end of the Glendale bridge: the bridge slopes downhill to Atwater, which, along with overly wide lanes, encourages speeding—and then the two upper bridge lanes merge into the two lower bridge lanes, leaving cyclists with two lanes of speeding cars on either side.

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, Atwater endTo make it worse, much of the traffic on the lower bridge has just gotten off the freeway, and the drivers’ minds are still stuck in high gear.

I used just to ride the line, looking over my shoulder till I saw a clear space in traffic. But lately I’ve been trying to figure out a way that a casual neighborhood rider could negotiate this same merge, and so I’ve instead been pulling into the little painted triangle just past the sidewalk’s end, stopping, and waiting till I can cross the right lanes in a relaxed and anxiety-free manner. Turning it into a variant of the bike box, as it were.

I have in the past suggested stop signs for the lower road at this point. But now I realize that there’s a solid rationale for putting in a formal crossing there: because not only cyclists but pedestrians use this bridge too—and are pretty much stranded when they come to the end of the sidewalk. Which you will note is not ADA-compliant either!

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, Atwater endSo, if not stop signs, certainly an elaborated active crosswalk here—the kind that flashes lights in the roadway when someone is about to cross:

Glendale-Hyperion Bridge, Atwater endWith a wheelchair ramp from sidewalk to street, and a painted and bollarded waiting area big enough for a reasonable number of cyclists, pedestrians, and wheelchair users to wait in until the crosswalk lights up and the drivers (one hopes!) stop. A couple of signs on the downslope to let cyclists know that the crosswalk option is there for them. And, of course, signs on the lower roadway to slow down the speed-addled unfortunates pouring out of the freeway offramp.

This would encourage more walking and cycling across the bridge, with no cost to drivers except being urged to obey the laws they so gaily flout right now.

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One Comment

  1. Kenny
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    This location is a lot of trouble for people in cars too. My partner uses this on his commute driving back home to Silver Lake from work in Pasadena. A large percentage of the traffic from this freeway exit is about to merge all the way to the left to do a U-turn, at just the location that cyclists and pedestrians here want to merge all the way to the right. I wonder if there’s some way to implement this change that also makes things easier for the drivers looking to make this U-turn, or perhaps even make the U-turn unnecessary.

    This bridge is the one thing that normally prevents us from biking to Atwater for brunch or shopping.

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  1. […] offers an in-depth look at last week’s city council hit-and-run hearing. A simple crosswalk could make a dangerous LA bridge safer. What LA can learn from Minneapolis about bike planning. Free bike traffic skills classes continue […]

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