Following longtime advocacy for increased bike safety measures on Mount Diablo, workers began construction last week on a project that will provide 30 new bike turnouts on roads aimed at safely accommodating the flocks of cyclists who ride in the area.
"Bike turnouts allow a cyclist pedaling uphill to move slightly to right, thereby allowing a motorist to pass safely, that is, without crossing into the downhill lane, and possibly colliding with a descending cyclist," said Alan Kalin, president of Mount Diablo Cyclists (MDC).
According to MDC, bicycles account for 60% of vehicles on the roads of Mount Diablo, with more than 150,000 total rides last year. The group reports that bicyclists were struck by vehicles 36 times between 2010 and 2021, and that collisions are often narrowly avoided.
"As a result, bike turnouts were created to prevent collisions and save lives," said Kalin, who also serves on Danville's newly formed Bicycle Advisory Commission.
In particular, the turnouts are aimed at addressing bicyclists being caught next to drivers in blind curves, which is extremely common on the park's roads, according to MDC.
The completion date for the turnout project was initially scheduled for July 2023, but bumped ahead at the urging of MDC and state lawmakers Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Steve Glazer.
"The current proposed completion date of July 15, 2023 for MDSP Bike Turnout Project is too late and the delay will significantly increase the likelihood of serious injuries and/or fatalities to Park visitors," MDC members wrote in a letter to Glazer in December. "For example, on December 1, 2021, July 3, 2021 and May 30, 2021, Park visitors Rick, Ron and Gary were seriously injured in three separate bike vs vehicle collisions. All three men were hit by a vehicle on or near a blind curve at locations identified for a bike turnout in March 2019."
The 30 bike turnouts in the current project make it the most ambitious yet for bicycle safety in Mount Diablo State Park. Three pilot bike turnouts debuted in the park in 2016, followed by 10 more in 2018 and an additional four in 2020.
The project that kicked off July 18 is funded by $1.5 million of the state budget that was allocated for the project in 2021 at the push of Glazer and Bauer-Kahan. The project was previously approved by California State Parks officials in 2020, but failed to be granted funding that year.
Lawmakers responded to MDC's December letter by complying with their request to speed up the completion of the project by several months, with all 30 turnouts set to be completed by October or November.