I was invited to attend a safety audit conducted by representatives from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) today at both the Reed Lane and Badger Road crosswalks spanning the Bend Parkway. Unfortunately, there were not many folks crossing the Parkway by foot or bike likely due to the cold and snowy conditions. On a decently warm and sunny day, up to 50 folks cross the Parkway daily between Reed Lane and Badger according to the last count ODOT conducted.
During today’s noon hour audit, only one pedestrian crossed at the Reed Lane crosswalk. He was returning from shopping at Fred Meyers. Joel McCarroll, ODOT Region 4 Traffic Manager, got a chance to ask him a few questions and listened to his suggestions about ways to make the crosswalks safer. The biggest message the pedestrian wanted to convey was this: traffic speed at the crosswalk was too fast.
Clad in bright orange vests, the safety audit crew noticed few cars even slowing during daylight hours to allow them to cross. Rick Williams from ODOT Region 4 commented that the safety audit conducted at evening hours yesterday found that even with the bright orange vests, neither an ODOT driver nor a video camera mounted behind a test car’s windshield could see a staged pedestrian waiting to cross.
Bike Lane Usage
By most accounts even with an almost six foot wide bicycle lane, the Parkway isn’t frequented by cyclists. When asked by Sheila Lyons, ODOT Bicycle & Pedestrian Program
Manager from Salem, about my usage of the Parkway for bicycle commuting, I commented that I personally never had; traffic speed was too intimidating. One ODOT planner even wondered out loud if installing a wider shared-use (for pedestrians and cyclists) pathway paralleling the Parkway might have been a better allocation of space than the current bike lane configuration.
Stay tuned for the results of ODOT’s three-day safety audit.