Review Horseshoe at Espina
This intersection is on a primary motor vehicle entrance to the campus and includes a main pedestrian crosswalk from Agriculture College and related research areas to the central campus area. It was initially selected with several other campus locations where close encounters with bicyclist & skateboard had been noted by EH&S and others. Upon a second review this location was moved to the top of the list based on the high volume of bicycles and pedestrians at the location.
This first survey was conducted during peak pedestrian use, e.g. business hours (9am-4:30pm) Monday through Friday, from November 7 to 11. Observers recorded bicycle usage, pedestrian safety concerns (close pedestrian to bicyclist encounters), bicycle safety concerns and traffic violations at 15 minute intervals. The counts for each item were summed to 60 minutes interval and averaged over the week.
This intersection sees an average of 204 bicycle users per (9 am-4:30 pm) day. The average hourly count in the morning ranged from a high of 33 at 11am to 26 bicyclists per hour at noon and an afternoon high of 29 at 3pm down to 11 bicyclists per hour at 4pm (click the bicyclist count chart for detailed view).
In checking for bicycle usage, the survey found concerns with bicyclist safety on campus streets due to lack of compliance with traffic laws. In a collision with another vehicle or stationary object, the bicycle rider is more likely to be injured than a motor vehicle operator.
Under New Mexico and under most US traffic laws, bicycles are considered vehicles when ridden on the streets. Per the NM Driver Manual (bicyclist section), as vehicle operators, bicyclists are to
- Obey all traffic signals, laws and signs (photo below), just as if driving a car, . . . . . (note: the “right of way” in pedestrian crosswalks is restricted to pedestrians (persons on foot) not vehicles).
- Travel in the same direction as traffic (photo below), . . . .
- Use hand signals to indicate turning and stopping.
As a main entrance to campus, Espina Street is busy throughout the day with motor vehicles traffic and with
pedestrians. The observers noted few motor vehicle violations, however the bicyclists:
- rode the wrong way on Espina Street
- rode the wrong way on North Horseshoe
- failed to stop or yield at traffic stop signs
- rode within the pedestrian crosswalk
The two more common violations here occurred when bicyclists
- fail to stop or yield at the stop signs on Espina Street or N. Horseshoe and
- rode across the Espina within the pedestrian crosswalk (photo).
The charted observations show that the average daily counts for these situations were 93 and 128 respectively (click bicyclist safety concern chart for more detail).
Pedestrian Safety Concerns
Pedestrian injury can occur with pedistrian / bicycle collision and in these collisions, both pedestrian and bicyclist are at risk of injury. Bike-pedestrian collisions were not observed during this survey and reported injuries are infrequent, but potential pedistrian / bicycle encounters were observed both on the walkways and crosswalks (photo).
The more common pedistrian / bicycle encounter is thought to occur when a pedestrian steps in the path of an approaching bicyclist. Often this encounter can be prevented by the pedestrian, when he/she notes the potential and change their direction of movement.
Occasionally a collision or near-miss will result from inattentativeness of the pedestrian, e.g. loud music/head phones, reading a book, etc. However the common complaint of susprise or potential injury is blamed on fact that the bicyclists are moving too fast in the pedestrians proximity and/or are simply riding too close to the pedestrians. These conditions are classed as dangerous as they prevent the pedestrian from taking corrective action to avoid the biker.
Here the observers looked for the following conditions to classify & count the bicyclist / pedestrian concern.
- Bicyclist passing too close to pedestrian:
- Conditions: Bicyclist passed within 2-3 ft of the pedestrian and generally the pedestrian appeared unware of bicyclist until after pass (susprised)
- Bicyclist traveling too fast in pedestrian proximity:
- Conditions: Bicyclist traveling within 6-8 ft of pedestrian (where slight route deviation could easily involve the pedestrian) and at speed 3-4 times (or greater) as fast as the pedestrian.
The observed occurences of these conditions (chart) show the counts at this location:
- Bicyclist passing “too close to pedestrian(s)” occurs in the morning hours about twice per day (10 times per week)
- Bicyclist traveling “too fast by (in proximity to) pedestrian(s)” occurs through-out the day about 5-6 times a day