Why crosswalks are starting to look different: Roadshow

Q: I have visited many countries in Europe and noticed when crossing streets that the crosswalks are pushed back from corners about 10 to 20 feet. It makes real sense.

In some accidents, the driver does not see the pedestrian behind an obstacle, like a pole, etc. The driver is looking to the left for oncoming traffic and makes the turn immediately into the crosswalk.

Crosswalks 10 to 20 feet from corners give drivers additional time to adjust their viewing to the right before entering the crosswalk.

Is there any research on this design approach done in the U.S.?

Larry Bordoni

A: We are on a similar path. Agencies across the state are installing bulb-outs, which extend the sidewalk or curb line out into the street, reducing the pedestrian crossing distance and the time that pedestrians are in the crosswalk. By improving the ability of pedestrians and motorists to see each other, it reduces the chances of vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

Bulb-outs also reduce speeds by physically and visually narrowing the roadway.

Q: I recently drove up Kings Mountain Road above Woodside and noticed that a wonderful improvement had been made to aid both bicyclists and car drivers going up that steep and narrow road: bicycle turnouts.

They’re similar to turnouts used for slower autos to allow others to pass, but these are only wide enough for bicycles to use and have signage to indicate their purpose. It vastly improves safety for both bicyclists and cars by allowing safe zones for cars to pass bicyclists. This is a great idea that I hope will be used for other roads favored by bicyclists.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve nearly been hit head-on by an oncoming car in my lane attempting to pass a bicyclist. Bicycle turnouts should reduce the chances of this happening. I suggest driving up Kings Mountain Road so you can see for yourself what a great idea this is.

James Garrison, Sunnyvale

A: I will. Great ideas need to be seen.

Q: A few weeks ago you had stories about driver’s ed class. I would like to share mine.

The year: 1955. I’m in a driver’s ed class at San Mateo High School and this pretty girl is handing out papers before a movie in class. I asked the teacher, Sam Goodhue, if he would arrange for this classmate, Adrienne Armstrong, to sit next to me for the movie, which he did.

We ended up dating and last month we celebrated 64 years of marriage.

Gotta love those driver’s ed classes.

Wayne Meyer

A: Great story. But I have to ask: how’s your driving?

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, or contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com or 408-920-5335.

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Author: Gary Richards

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