Since it’s pouring rain right now we’re not set up downtown, and I figure that I’ll use this time to gripe about one of THE most annoying intersections in the city for bikes. Yes, I understand that we are very, very lucky to live in a city that places so much emphasis on bikes (especially compared to where I have lived previously), but that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve, one block or one intersection at a time.
This is the intersection of John Nolen Drive and Northshore Drive. It’s also the intersection of the Southwest Commuter Path and the Capital City Bike Trail, and it is probably the second busiest in the entire city of Madison. Cars, bikes and pedestrians all jockey for space, and it’s obvious that vehicular traffic was given a HUGE priority over the other two. In the picture above, you can see 10 cyclists crowded up onto the island waiting to cross, with traffic moving behind them (a right-turn-only lane). This picture was taken on a normal weekday afternoon during rush-hour, and is indicative of the amount of bicycle traffic that normally occurs here.
The problem is that there is no continuous walk/ride signal for pedestrians and cyclists. In order to cross, pedestrians and cyclists have to line up before the right-turn-only lane waiting for a walk signal. When they get one, they are able to cross only to the island before having to wait for another cycle of lights to allow them to cross John Nolen Drive. This leads to backups as 10+ people try to all fit on a small pedestrian island as they wait for the next walk signal.
Maybe this works when there’s only a handful of pedestrians, but for a major connection between bike paths that serves hundreds (more?) of cyclists every day, a better solution needs to be found. In just a 10min stretch I probably saw 75+ cyclists trying to cross this area, so I can only imagine how many cross it throughout a full day’s time.
Cyclists need to be figured into the equation anytime an intersection like this is rebuilt. When they’re not (and traffic engineers only care about motorists at the expense of everyone else), you get this debacle.