As the University of Colorado prepares for another academic year, Boulder transportation officials are considering several changes to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. Specifically, three proposals that build upon existing laws are under review.
Officials first proposed a speed limit for bicyclists entering a crosswalk. Bicyclists would be required to slow down as they approach and travel through an intersection. Testing groups found that speeds of 8 miles per hour would give drivers a chance to see bicyclists and yield in a safe manner. Currently, the city code requires bicyclists to enter intersections "at a speed no greater than an ordinary walk." The new proposal would clarify the expectation for bicyclists and drivers alike. The city's Transportation Advisory Board has already approved this plan.
A second proposal would require bicyclists and pedestrians to push a button that activates flashing lights at specific intersections. Activating the lights is currently optional, and the new ordinance would not change a driver's duty to yield to pedestrians. Last spring, the University and city officials spent nearly $98,000 to install a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk (nicknamed HAWK), at a busy crossing on Regent Drive, just south of Colorado Avenue. The crossing system connects the CU Engineering Center with the Regent Drive Autoplex.
Another proposal would require drivers who see another vehicle stopped at a crosswalk to also stop and check for pedestrians. This is a common occurrence where one car will yield to a bicyclist, but drivers in the next lane would not stop. The bicyclist would continue through the crosswalk and be hit by an unsuspecting driver whose vision was blocked by the stopped car. State law already requires drivers to stop in areas where one vehicle has already yielded in this fashion, but having a municipal ordinance make it easier for officers to cite to violators, as nearly all traffic tickets in Boulder are handled through the municipal court.