Sunday, December 12, 2010

10th & Bellefontaine

Walked around in the snow this afternoon at this newly completed (?) intersection which serves as the terminus of the northeast leg of the Cultural Trail. I appreciate the apparent efforts to make the intersection more hospitable to pedestrians, however, a few parts of the design seem odd and confusing. First, the right lane of eastbound 10th Street ends, just prior to the intersection instead of being a right-turn only lane onto Bellefontaine. I guess I don't object to eastbound through traffic and the occasional right-turning vehicle sharing the same lane, but I hope that on-street parking will be permitted in the right lane between College and Bellefontaine as I believe it is west of College. What's really strange to me is the right-turn lane from northbound Bellefontaine to eastbound 10th Street. After a vehicle begins into the rounded right turn lane that is designed to accommodate turns at a much faster speed than a regular right turn, the driver encounters a traffic signal.

There's no sign indicating that the right turn can't be completed without waiting for a red light, but I presume that's the point since a crosswalk runs right in front of the stop line. All of the drivers I witnessed proceeded through the right turn without waiting for a green light, most not even stopping for the red light. It seems to me that the design of the right turn lane sends a mixed message to drivers: such rounded turn lanes are typically designed to allow right turns to occur at any time without stopping, but yet at this location where the Cultural Trail crosses 10th Street to connect to the Monon Trail, obviously, the intent was to give preference to and provide safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The rounded right turn lane fails as the design allows vehicles to complete the turn (into a reborn eastbound 10th Street right lane) while the single lane of 10th Street traffic proceeds through the intersection as well.

At a minimum, I think there needs to be a sign prohibiting a right turn from Bellefontaine to 10th on red. However, I think that pedestrians and bicyclists would be safer if the right turn movement was a 90-degree turn that would actually require drivers to slow to a safe speed. For that matter, I'm not sure why there's no left turn permitted from Bellefontaine to westbound 10th Street. The only crosswalk is on the east side of the intersection so there'd be no conflict with ped/bike traffic, and it would certainly be helpful for someone who has been unsuccessful at finding a parking space on Mass Ave or Bellefontaine to be able to circle back around by going west on 10th and south on College. Most such drivers will be considerably inconvenienced by being required to travel east under I-70/I-65 to either then make a u-turn or a series of several turns to get back to the west side of the Interstate.