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This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch it now)

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An illustrated guide for bicyclists. Might save your life.

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Matthew Rodieck (sp?)

Matthew Rodieck (sp?) (Oct. 21, 2003, near Mopac & Northwood)
 
writes:
 
I finally got some details after my persistence and phone calls (no one at APD has answered my emails). The cyclist was hit the morning of Oct 21st is named Mathew Rodieck<sp?> and the driver who hit the cyclist is named Jennifer Brown (the APD case number is #032940321).

Although I have not seen the official document (I have to go downtown and pay $6 for a copy...), I was told the following: The driver failed to yield (i.e. ran the stop sign) and hit the cyclist. From what I can gather the motorist was using the ramps as a means to by-pass slower traffic on MoPac and sped through the intersection.  A ticket was issued and the officer who issued the ticket is named Tim Hargrove (badge #1623).

There is no information on the extent of injury - evidently I need to contact the hospital for this info (the cyclist was taken to Breckenridge). An onlooker saw the cyclist placed in the ambulance unconscious... I would assume the cyclist was not killed? (certainly the police records would indicate such?)

I need to report to our neighborhood association and residents the details and extent of injury from this accident. The location (Westover/Northwood Mopac interchange) is used extensively by both cyclist and pedestrians some of whom are children commuting to school via bike. Please see email below for further details describing this very dangerous intersection.

 

writes:
I'd like to add some information about traffic at Mopac and Westover/Northwood. The off-ramps and on-ramps for this intersection dump directly onto a neighborhood street.  There are no sidewalks at this intersection (Westover has one that ends 50 yards from the intersection) and pedestrians and bicyclists here use a combination of the shoulder and overgrown areas.  One big safety improvement was the addition of painted bicyclist lanes a year or so ago which has kept vehicles off the shoulders.

However, the Mopac traffic empties speeding traffic off the northbound off-ramp directly onto Northwood.  And afternoon/evening commuters regularly use the southbound off-ramp as a bypass to slower traffic on Mopac, crossing Westover and getting directly back onto the the southbound on-ramp.  At some times of the day, there are more motorists doing this than there are those truly exiting Mopac.  When it's very busy, the southbound off-ramp backs up, and cars begin coming down the shoulder of the off-ramp to pass the backed up off-ramp traffic, turn right at Westover and immediately do a u-turn (thus avoiding the wait) so they can get immediately back onto the southbound off-ramp.  In fact, I have seen people in TxDOT cars do this!

The have been a couple occasions when people were out monitoring this intersection.  When I saw them, it was during the quieter part of the day, where there's only the occasional speeder.  As rush hour approaches, there are increasing numbers of cars going ~50mph on this road, until traffic backs up to the point where speeding is no longer possible.  But this only adds to the number of angry, frantic drivers at the time.  As rush hour clears, the cars speeds go back up. After the rush, traffic returns to a more reasonable and safe state.  If someone were to monitor this intersection, it would be important to see it during the heavier commuter hours. This is when the overflow traffic ends up on the neighborhood streets.

I'm surprised there aren't more auto accidents here in general, *especially* at the southbound off-ramp, due to the difficult conditions with turning left from the off-ramp onto Northwood.  I'm not sure traffic lights make sense on an off-ramp, but that clearly is a dangerous left turn.

I wish I had more suggestions on how to improve the situation.   Signs indicating that cyclists should follow the flow of traffic would probably help.  Sidewalks would be a big improvement for the inevitable pedestrian traffic (as I've heard it, TxDOT at one time wouldn't put up pedestrian traffic signs because it might encourage pedestrian traffic).  As this is a neighborhood, you're going to get pedestrians regardless.  Furthermore, this intersection feeds Casis Elementary, just up around the corner at Exposition.  Some of the pedestrians and bicyclists are elementary school students.  (The bicyclist who was hit today was not a student).

It may be the case that this is just not a smart location for freeway access. I know closing it is one of the options TxDOT considered as part of the proposed Mopac expansion.  Another longshot possibility is closing off the off-ramps at rush hours, as this is when the roads here are most dangerous.





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