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Cyclist Susan Herzberg posted the following on her Facebook page on December 16 at 9:54 am after coming close to serious injury (or worse) in a car-bike crash on Manchester Ave, St Louis, at a corner BP gas station (since closed):
Just had a collision with a car this morning on Manchester. Was riding my bike in the new bike lane and someone cut right in front of me to get to the gas station @ Kingshighway and I couldn’t stop. Took out her sideview mirror with my arm. ouch. I’m fine, will be bruised tomorrow and bike is fine, rode in the rest of the way to work, but I sure miss having 2 regular traffic lanes both ways on Manchester. I had 2.5 years of safe riding without the bike lane. So…be careful cyclists, bike lanes are really a much more dangerous place to be than in with the flow of traffic.
Later, Susan added this by way of further explanation, mentioning her 8-year-old daughter:
Yes Gretchen was safely at school. I was westbound on Manchester just after crossing Kingshighway and she (the motorist) was turning right into the gas station. … I feel very lucky, it was a slow speed crash.
To help visualize this from a bicyclist’s perspective, below is a still image of Karen Karabell bicycling past the entrance to the BP gas station where Susan’s car-bike crash occurred roughly 4 months later.
Note: Please click the following live link for information on Karen Karabell and the CyclingSavvy St. Louis program she runs. CyclingSavvy is based in Orlando, FL.
Two screen shots of the intersection before restriping follow, taken from Google maps in 2011.
Above is the original lane striping at this intersection with two lanes westbound and three lanes eastbound, the furthest left being a left-turn-only lane.
The new MoDOT configuration, which shoehorned in a bike lane in each direction on Manchester Ave. on the west side of Kingshighway by taking out a travel lane, is reproduced again below (and can be enlarged by repeatedly mouse clicking on it):
The above diagram is from page 6 of MoDOT’s restriping plan for Manchester Ave. (MO Route 100) at the Kingshighway intersection. The BP station (since closed) was at 1187 S Kingshighway Blvd, Manchester Ave, St Louis, MO 63110. The bike lanes are nominally either 4 ft or 5 ft wide, depending on the amount of right-of-way available.
Taking out a traffic lane to accommodate a new bike lane in each direction leads to problems with traffic flow while also creating conditions for the kind of car-bike collision of which Susan Herzberg was a victim.
Other undesirable changes to the lane striping along this road are illustrated with photos below:
1. Door zone bike lanes.
Even with the addition of 2 ft. buffer lanes on either side of the bike lane this is a potentially dangerous situation for a cyclist.
Nick Kasoff, a seasoned cyclist, and I biked about 1-1/2 miles along Manchester/MO Route 100 on November 9, 2013, going eastbound from Maplewood city limits and turning around at Sulphur Ave. This followed its restriping by MoDOT between the St. Louis city limits at Maplewood, and ending at Vandeventer, a distance of about 3-1/2 miles.
Please note: The still photos below are taken from a helmet-mounted videocamera recording I made while bicycling ahead of Nick Kasoff.
2. A lane-centered sharrow [Shared Lane Marking] in a single 1 mile long eastbound lane.
Below is reproduced part of MoDOT’s restriping plan from page 3 of 8, showing the start of the section where two eastbound lanes and a buffered bike lane narrow after Mitchell to a single eastbound lane. This lane has lane-centered sharrows from Dale almost to Macklind, a distance of about 1 mile. The problem is not the lane-centered sharrows but the removal of an adjoining lane in which motorists could previously readily pass.
By the time Nick and I had gone less than a half-mile after the road transitioned from a bike lane plus through lane to a single lane with sharrows at Dale, no less than 13 cars had piled up behind us. This was due to the motorist immediately behind us initially considering passing in the empty oncoming traffic lane but then pulling back behind us for a distance of almost half a mile. That led to other motorists queuing up behind him.