Today’s Unfortunate Case Study: Menaul Blvd. at Edith Blvd.
A male motorcyclist riding west yesterday morning, downhill, on Menaul just west of I-25 approached Edith. Then, as APD spokesperson Simon Drobik wrote in an email to Journal reporter Elise Kaplan:
“As it (the motorcyclist) neared the intersection with Edith, a 2006 full size Ford pickup being driven by a male adult was turning from northbound Edith to westbound Menaul.”
The scene was apparently something like this:
The driver of the truck coming northbound from Edith (red); the motorcyclist moving downhill on Menaul (yellow), posted speed 45 mph. The intersection as I think you can make out above is not signalized. To the right is Menaul School, as Edith ends, for a time, at this intersection.
Many, including those in the bicycling community, are already nodding their heads in grim understanding of the scene above. This intersection ends a relatively idyllic stretch of roadway northbound on Edith, as it goes under the madness of I-40, and its glorious lack of on/off-ramp access, and along the cemetery.
Then you get to Menaul Boulevard.
As Drobik continued:
“The motorcyclist attempted to brake and swerve but struck the rear of the pickup in the far left lane.”
A caveat or two: I am not conducting a police investigation of this incident via this post. My only knowledge of the incident comes from: A. This newspaper story; B: Having ridden through this intersection many times. I don’t know who is “at fault” for this crash in terms of human driving error, if either party; I only know that we are at fault for originally designing and failing to later improve intersections like Menaul at Edith.
On the other hand, interestingly, a look at MRCOG crash rates for this intersection does not support the contention that this is highly dangerous intersection, although the 2016 crash report does not an injury crash there. Of course, yesterday’s deadly crash will affect future calculations, and there’s the anecdotal experience of having crossed Menaul. It sure seems like a failed intersection. Memorably so, for those who attempt it. There’s also the question of how few actually attempt it, more precisely the action of turning left onto Menaul from Edith. It’s a very scary thing to do, regardless of one’s mode of travel.
Particularly those attempting this while on a bicycle or motorcycle instead of a “full size pickup.” Speaking of motorcycles, the in-progress MRCOG Regional Transportation Safety Action Plan has a truly remarkable graphic on the commuter v. fatality rate for those on motorcycles in the area:
Yes, many ride motorcycles solely or primarily for recreation, but to have only 0.4% of overall commutes be on motorcycle while such riders account for a whopping 24% of overall AMPA traffic fatalities is astounding.
Putting all this together, there is much to work on here. Looking from a perspective of “Vision Zero,” what needs to happen, both at Menaul @ Edith and concerning all users, including motorcyclists, throughout the area, to transform the stories and statistics above into a future of zero traffic deaths?
I don’t have the answers, although that 45 mph speed limit on downhill Menaul might be a decent place to start. I do know we need to get to work.