It's been a fun National Work Zone Awareness Week! Now make it safe for people who walk and bike.

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© National Work Zone Awareness Week

Now let's celebrate a National Work Zone Cyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week.

For twenty years now, National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) has been observed "at the start of construction season to encourage safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones." Its stated purpose is to "raise awareness of the need for more caution when driving through work zones to decrease fatalities and injuries" and to "communicate possible effects of motorists’ behavior in response to traffic delays, and advise on what steps might possibly be taken to lessen negative behavior."


During the week I have been watching the action on Twitter, like this sign that was, according to Don Kostelec, probably installed to announce the start of NWZAW. Don, a planner in Boise, Idaho, has been collecting what he tags #NWZAWfail all week.


I have noted before that, when it comes to construction projects in North America, cyclists are treated like dirt or worse; they are constantly put into situations of serious risk. I often see construction projects in Toronto, where I live, where it is just dangerous.

St. Clair sidewalkLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Pedestrians often are in danger, too, like this spot between a seniors' residence and the store where they shop. There was plenty of room between the fence and sidewalk where they could have put a pedestrian walkway, but they would rather store equipment and make the old people push their buggies across the street.

st clair and bathurstLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

Or here, where I am forced to ride with cars between the construction and a concrete wall; there is not room for both of us and, even if I wanted to walk my bike, the pedestrian protection is so narrow and crowded that I cannot get through.

Gerrard StreetLloyd Alter/ Gerrard Street/CC BY 1.0

This is a major bicycle route in Toronto, the Gerrard Street bike lane. Here, they tell me to ride single file in front of a car, except the cars don't want to politely ride behind me, they want to go quickly. It is scary, every time.

Harbord Street bike laneLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

This just made me throw up my hands in wonder at the idiocy of it all, where the phone company just fills the bike lane with cones. I got into a big argument on Twitter with a guy who said that the cones were there to protect me from tools and stuff falling off the phone company truck. So instead, I should be pushed into traffic.

DavenportLloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

This one is a few years old but was always my favorite. The trailer and toilet were there literally for years, right on top of the Davenport bike lane. I never saw any work done, but got pushed out into Davenport Road traffic anyway.

Copenhagen bike diversionLloyd Alter/ Copenhagen bike route protection/CC BY 2.0

I keep quoting Mikael of Copenhagenize, who tells us that it is the law in Denmark that provisions be made to keep bike lanes open. "The City prioritises the bicycle traffic wherever possible in such situations. It doesn't make much sense to build bicycle infrastructure and then not keep it clear." Instead, in North America, pedestrians and cyclists have to do -- what? Who knows or cares.


This is all so silly; there are rules, and there is common sense. People who walk and bike get killed this way; it is time for some awareness of them. So next week, and every year from now on, let's have a National Work Zone Cyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week (NWZCPAW).

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