Mount Diablo Cyclists was established three years ago. We are a group of over 700 devoted and passionate cyclists. Our mission is to make the roadways of Mount Diablo safer for cyclists and motorists.
On a typical weekend day, up to 500 drivers share the roads with approximately 700 cyclists. The majority of vehicles on Mount Diablo are bicycles! Last year over 150,000 cyclists rode up Mount Diablo.
We discovered that a collision was occurring on these roads approximately every two weeks, or 25-30 collisions per year!
For over a year, we met repeatedly with Park leadership and showed them 112 Traffic Collision Reports. Unfortunately, they were unwilling to make any safety improvements to prevent injuries or reduce collisions between cyclists and motorists.
According to Park leadership: "that's how it's always been, that's the status quo and we see no reason to change. We don't count cyclists, they don't matter."
Roadway Stripes and Signs
As a result, we met with State Senator Steven Glazer and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker two years ago. We showed them the 112 Traffic Collision Reports, 24 of which documented Bike vs. Vehicle Collisions.
They quickly recognized a clear and present danger to Park visitors on Mount Diablo. As a result of their bipartisan leadership and the support of the public and the media, California State Parks was pressured to implement significant safety improvements for cyclists and motorists on Mount Diablo.
In 2016, funding was found to implement a Road Striping and Signage Project on the roadways of Mount Diablo, engineered according to Caltrans standards. The new safety improvements include: DO NOT PASS BIKES ON BLIND CURVES (35 signs), AVOID CRASH SLOW DOWN (35 signs), Bike Sharrows every ½ mile in the ascending lanes, additional STOP signs, revised warning/speed signs and Solid Double Yellow center line.
No amount of signage or road markings can eliminate poor driver or cyclist behavior, but the new signs and Double Yellow center line have already significantly reduced the number of collisions in the park, from an annual average of 25-30 collisions prior to 2106 to only 6 collisions in 2016!
Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory
Most motorists entering the Park have never been to Mount Diablo before. They are unaware that hundreds of cyclists and vehicles share the narrow, winding, dangerous roads. Mount Diablo Cyclists worked closely with Park leadership to address this issue. Now, the attendants at the North and South Gate kiosks are required to provide a Verbal Motorists Safety Advisory to all drivers entering the park.
Unfortunately, the kiosks are only staffed 60% of the hours that the Park is open. Therefore, thousands of drivers per year enter the Park without hearing the Safety Advisory. They are thus unaware of the difficult nature of the roads, and the fact that many cyclists will be sharing those roads with them. It is also unfortunate that, according to Park leadership, most of these motorists do not stop to pay the entrance fee.
This results in an estimated annual loss in revenue of over $100,000. According to Park leadership, "the parks annual budget fo Park Aids is sufficient to fully staff the the North and South Gate kiosks for the entire year." Mount Diablo Cyclists has presented different solutions to Park leadership, including merely augmenting the existing volunteer staff, thus avoiding any additional cost to the Park. There has been no meaningful response.
MDSP and Mount Diablo Cyclists have worked together to plan and install three pilot Bike Turnouts. Bike Turnouts allow a cyclist pedaling uphill to move slightly to the right, allowing a motorist to pass safely, that is, without driving into the downhill lane, and possible colliding with a descending cyclist.
These Bike Turnouts have the potential to significantly reduce Bike vs. Vehicle Collisions that occur at blind curves, but three is only the beginning. Park leadership has concurred with Mount Diablo Cyclists that 35-40 additional Bike Turnouts are needed. This would amount to approximately one every half-mile. This request has been made clearly to State Parks, but there has been no response. In fact, ten of the new Bike Turnouts require only painting of asphalt that is already suitable. The cost for these ten would only be $5,000. State Parks will not respond.