Thursday, January 08, 2009

Another Day, Another Brush With Death.

Today as I rode into New Brunswick along Livingston Avenue, I literally had a near brush with potential death. I was positioned to the right side of the right lane but out of the door zone of four lane (six with parking) Livingston Ave where it is posted at 25mph. A box truck comes up behind me slowly as I was riding about 13mph (old school Ross 3-speed). He slowly begins to pass (okay so far) but then, when the box of the truck comes by, it is only a foot from my left shoulder and then he starts squeezing me into the parked cars. This all happened slowly so I bang on the truck and braked to prevent getting squeezed further. He stops and a small confrontation ensues.

Second thing out of his mouth; yes you guessed it, "Get off the street and onto the sidewalk where you belong." Its actually illegal to ride on the sidewalk in New Brunswick but that would be lost on him so I just told him that the street is "EXACTLY where I belong."

Moments earlier on Livingston Ave a lady made a left turn in front of me, cutting me off. It wasn't dangerously close but I was forced to nearly stop.

So why am I bring this up? Well besides the fact that I continually deal with near death experiences on a daily basis for simply wanting to use the most direct route to work and school, the real reason is that most of these incidents could easily be avoided with just a little bit of paint.

Livingston Ave like so many roads in New Jersey is unnecessarily striped for four travel lanes. The volume of traffic on Livingston Ave (outside of a half an hour period during some evening rush hours) doesn't require four lanes and so it should go on a diet!

A road diet that is; reducing the road from 4 travel lanes to 2 travel lanes, a center left turn lane. The extra space is then available to use for a properly positioned (out of the door zone) bike lane. Plus crazed speeders, and Livingston Ave has them, get stuck behind the slower cars of the law abiders.

Above images from

There are many other beneficial reasons why road diets are a good idea including pedestrian and even driver safety. A good overview can be found in the Road Diet Handbook (a Power Point) by Jennifer A. Rosales from the firm Parsons Brinkerhoff.


michael said...

yeah. i have, unfortunately or not, very low tolerance for bad drivers. ive been hit, though lightly, a half dozen times by car drivers while on my bicycle, and even moreso as a pedestrian. Though I somtimes do break the letter of the law on my bike or while walking, in every case where i was hit, I was in full compliance with the law.

My reactions have included, um, denting of quarter panels. The reaction from fear of death is oddly enough directed at the car, not the person. i guess i'm lucky, and so is the driver!

the solution for the speed funnel might just work. I do know that the intersection of new street and livingston is a particularly nasty pinch b/c it is a tight turn for trucks to make there, and there is not much room for cylclists, oddly enough, on this otherwise widest undivided street in new brunswick.

ride safely and carry a big stick.

just kidding. mostly....

Andy B from Jersey said...

That's the thing. Livingston Ave is super-wide and 99.9% of the time it doesn't need to be. In fact several studies indicate that reducing 4 lane arterials like Livingston Ave to 3 lanes with a road diet can actually improve motor vehicle traffic flow while providing room for a bicycle lane and increasing pedestrian safety to boot! There are examples like Livingston Ave all across NJ.

Also, on a separate note. Funny you should jokingly mention carrying a big stick. Several years ago I bought an ax at a local hardware store. To carry it home I lashed it to the outside of my backpack using the ice-ax loops on my bag. It was very noticeable that the cars ALL gave me a really wide berth that day as I rode home. Really! But I don't advocate this since the ax could be considered by police to be a weapon.

deansangie said...


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