Construction crews should look out for cyclist safety, reader says

The weather is nice and that means public works departments across the county are trying to make good use of it by embarking on projects aimed at making it easier for us to get from point A to point B. The thing is, that construction process can slow things down for road users, including bicyclists. When crews are working on the right side of the road, drivers should expect that the cyclist up ahead is going to slip into the traffic lane. Do not pass the cyclist, as she or he is considered a motor vehicle in the California Vehicle Code and has every right to take the traffic lane. But are construction crews doing everything they can to ensure cyclist safety? Bob Montague bike commutes from Watsonville to Aptos several days weekly. Sometimes his commute is met by road or maintenance work and he's concerned that crews working on behalf of both Watsonville and the county are endangering cyclist safety. Either not enough signage is posted to alert road users of the project or signs are placed in bicycle lanes or on blind curves, forcing cyclists to come up with a plan B real quick, he said. Road crews have guidelines to follow regarding signage, said Maria Esther Rodriguez, principle engineer for the city of Watsonville. “When crews are doing construction in a lane or on the shoulder, they typically post 'Road Work Ahead' or similar signs, which would indeed let all users know that something is happening,” she said. “In our larger projects, where bike lanes exist and will be interrupted, we would typically post the 'Bike Lane Closed Ahead' and 'Share the Road' signs.” Rodriguez forwarded Montague's concern to public works crews and said the department “will continue to work with our construction personnel to make sure we do what we can to warn the traveling public about road work and sharing the road with all users.” Meanwhile, the Community Traffic Safety Coalition worked with local public works agencies to create a Construction Safety Guidelines handout for each jurisdiction and their contractors to follow. Cory Caletti of the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission encouraged public works departments to use signs that read “Bikes May Use Full Lane,” saying it's a more clear statement than “Share the Road.” Seabright area slurry seal project Speaking of road work, a contractor with the city of Santa Cruz will perform a two-day chip seal job beginning Wednesday, June 13 and a four-day microsurface seal project the week of June 18 in the Seabright Beach area. Restriping of the streets will follow the seal work. Expect intermittent road closures in the project area, which is bordered by East Cliff Drive, Murray Street, the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor and Seabright State Beach. The project also includes Broadway, from Seabright to Frederick, and Frederick, from Broadway to Soquel. Avoid the area if possible. For information, call Joshua Spangrud at 420-5178.
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