Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Safe Routes to Schools?

 Strong Street, just before Wildwood Elementary School

The $280,000  state funded "Safe Routes To Schools" project in and around Wildwood Elementary and Amherst Regional Middle School that will "include upgraded wheelchair ramps, new pavement markings, new traffic and pedestrian warning signs, and some minor drainage modifications" use thermoplastic for line markings.

You can tell because the markings are a tad brighter, and will last a lot longer than the paint the town uses, but is, apparently, more slippery than paint when wet. 

Of course these hieroglyphics have been in since late July and thus far no reports of downed cyclist.


Dr. Ed said...

It is not a "downed cyclist" that folk need to worry about, Larry.

The problem is front-wheel drive cars in the rain and the total loss of the ability to stop. Two reasons.

First, "engine braking" is when the drive wheels are actually turning the engine, thus slowing the vehicle. In a front-drive car, one tire is going to have slightly less traction than the other, and it is going to slide just enough to allow the rear end to come around at which point you are spinning.

This is less of a problem at lower speeds, unless one front tire has a LOT less traction. And remember that while the rear tires are riding on pavement that the front tires have moved the water off of, it is the front tires having to plow through this water.

Second, as BMW points out, RWD cars can have more braking in the rear because a greater proportion of the vehicle's weight is there - in a FWD car, the bias is 70%-30% or even 80%-20% toward the front tires, with all of the above mentioned problems.

Simply stated, if you hit your brakes *on* this paint, you will simply slide - and keep sliding once you are off it -- you will slide just about as far as you will on ice. And when sliding toward a kid, how many people are going to have the presence of mind to let go of the brake pedal for an instant, which is what you absolutely must do if you don't have ABS.

And according to the NTSB, antilock breaks do not activate at slow speeds, definitely do not activate below 10 MPH (and are defective if they do).

The State of Maine pours finely-ground glass onto this polymer paint while it is still hot. While the intent is to make it reflective, it also makes it a lot less slippery.

trussdob said...

Larry, as an avid road cyclist, I can tell you this type of striping while highly visible and durable is very slippery when wet. This is especially so for road cycle tires. One way to help in regards to crosswalks is that a "zebra" pattern is put down rather than two parallel lines. Cyclists can simply ride between the "bars".

As an aside...although slightly related to topic would be the proper orientation of catch-basin grates. Those with long narrow openings should be installed with the openings perpendicular to the road. If not road cycle tires fall into them like a piece of bread into a toaster...with pretty nasty results.

Anonymous said...

Larry is good at bringing up things that down the road he may be able to say "I told you so" about:

someone's gonna drive a 10' 6" high truck into the snell st underpass... I told you so!

someone's gonna die in an apartment fire... I told you so!

someone's gonna get bit by a mosquito at the block party... I told you so!

a baby will die because the ambulances were elsewhere helping other babies... I told you so!

someone's gonna slip on the new road graphics... I told you so!

Anonymous said...

I checked these out earlier this summer and noted a new feature: there seems to be a grit of tiny reflective cubic crystals embedded in the thermoplastic, which made the surface much less slippery than the old, un-gritted version.

Maybe you could check with Guilford or Jason at DPW to see if that's the new standard? Seemed like a good idea and an improvement on several fronts (much greater durability and visibility as well as friction).

Kudos to them and whoever came up with this innovation.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes, Jason said the consistency seemed different, as in improved.

Maybe the town should think about going back to using it townwide.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 9:30ish:

You were doing good, until the "hand lotion" ...

Anonymous said...

I've seen vehicles from the student house on the corner of Strong and E Pleasant Street parked on the newly marked bike lanes near Wildwood.