Rock Island street's potentially fatal design flaw
Well, it happened again today.
While driving on Rock Island's 17th street between 31st Avenue just south of Trinity West (the old Franscican Hospital) and Black Hawk Road, I nearly witnessed a head on collision.
And this is the THIRD time I've had this happen, with a couple almost involving myself. This is particularly alarming considering that I rarely drive that stretch of road at all.
The problem is that the city decided it would be a nice idea to block off an entire lane on the east side of the street and add a bicycle lane on the west. What this did was create a two lane road where there used to be a more or less 4 lane street.
But the way they decided to design and mark this off has probably lead to some accidents already, and I'm all but certain that sooner or later, it will lead to a very serious accident, possibly fatal.
The road tricks people, apparently. The wide lane on the east side is marked by a wide white stripe, as is the bike lane on the west. The middle two lanes are separated by a dashed yellow line, as is proper. (But obviously people don't notice the distinction between dashed yellow and dashed white lines.)
The problem occurs when people pull out onto the road, or are simply driving down the curving and winding road and get the impression that there's two lanes heading south.
I have been driving north and encountered not one, but two cars barreling around a curve straight at me in my lane, one following the other.
Today I witnessed a car full of teens coming flying around the curve about to pass me on my right, oblivious to the fact that they were in the opposing lane. A car was approaching coming the other way from Blackhawk road and I laid on the horn to try to get the kid's attention. The car with the teens had to hit the brakes and actually pulled over to the left into the unused lane of the road while the oncoming car squeezed between us in the other direction. Not a good situation.
On one other occasion I also witnessed a car driving serenely in the oncoming lane, not realizing they were in the wrong.
Even I was momentarily fooled one time and almost pulled out into the wrong lane. It's clear that the way it's laid out invites drivers to mistakenly drive into oncoming traffic.
This simply has to be changed or fixed. As I said, perhaps a solid yellow center line rather than dashed would do the trick. I don't know.
When I've driven that stretch of road perhaps 5 times since they've made the change and on three of those occasions I've seen people driving directly into oncoming traffic, something's wrong.
Not only is it obviously confusing to motorists, but to make the situation more dangerous, the road is winding, making for short sight distances, and the speed limit is 40, which leads to speeds up to 50 mph or more, plenty fast enough to make the likelyhood of a head-on higher.
The only grim "positive" about the situation is that at least there's a trauma center nearby.
Here's a rinky-dink diagram to help you visualize the situation if you're not familiar with the road. (click to enlarge)
I guess some drivers heading south mistakenly think that the big unused lane on the east side is for traffic going north towards the hospital, (and the white stripe there is the center line,) while the other two lanes separated by dashed lines are for southbound traffic. Perhaps they simply don't realize that yellow dashed lines means don't cross unless you're passing. I'm not sure how to explain it, but trust me, it tricks a lot of people.
I write this in the sincere hope that someone from the city is aware of this problem and does something about this before anyone loses their lives. I hate to say it, but it's simply inevitable that someone is going to have a head-on collision there.
And if any of you ever find yourself driving along this stretch of 17th Street, just be ready to take some quick evasive action.
I know there's been an amazing amount of close calls, because I see one almost every time I drive there.
Anyone else had this experience?