Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Update on Bloomington Path Fatality

The Star-Tribune has posted an article about the specific tunnel in which the recent bike path fatality in Bloomington occurred. A few points:

  • A curve and downhill leads up to the tunnel.
  • Prior accidents have occurred in or near the tunnel, although they have not necessarily been well-tracked by Three Rivers Park District.
  • Kids like to play in the tunnel.
  • The lane has a dashed line, not a solid, which suggests to people that using either lane is ok.

The issues with the sight lines leading to the tunnel is almost undoubtedly an engineering issue. But issues like kids playing in the tunnel on a bike path, and the discussion of making the lane line solid not dashed so people know to stay in the lane? Those aren’t engineering issues. I would argue those to be inherent issues of bicycle paths. People should KNOW to stay in their lane and use caution if needing to go around someone in their lane – this is just common sense. And of course kids like to play in tunnels. Tunnels are FUN. I suspect all the signage in the world isn’t going to change that tendency – or cause parents to police their kids much better.

I’ve said it 3.2 billion times: People want to act as those bicycle trails conform to different traffic rules than roads – and they do, in the sense that there are likely to be MORE hazards, rather than fewer. Lane placement and visibility remain key, as does bicycle control.

Knowing what I do of legal issues, I smell an upcoming lawsuit for facility deficiency leading to wrongful death, due to the engineering issues. But the bulk of issues identified in the Star-Tribune article aren’t engineering issues – they’re just reality.

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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