Earlier this summer, the roundabout in the former Intersection of Death was removed. Originally placed there by the Band to add some color to the otherwise-loathsome junction, the wooden platform had saved countless bikers from head-on collisions, and I was apprehensive about a looming school year without the roundabout in place.
Thankfully, the University had bigger plans. Sometime within the last few days, a fence was erected around a section of campus that encompasses the former roundabout and a less notorious – but still dangerous – interchange between it and White Plaza. A large white sign at either end of the cordoned-off area reads, “CAMPUS CENTER BIKE CIRCLES: Completed by September 2007.”
Crews have already gotten to work on a makeover for this area: the requisite incomprehensible markings have appeared on every square foot of the pavement. Circle #1, at the intersection of Lasuen and Escondido Malls, aka Intersection of Death, sports a new etching that outlines the University’s plans for the spot. Roughly three times the diameter of the old roundabout platform, it seems slightly oversized for even this grand intersection, so I figure they’re marking up some kind of decorative element, like the brick or cobblestone rings you often see around public fountains. Circle #2, at the intersection of Lasuen and Panama Malls, is approximately the same size, but it is currently represented only by a dotted paint line and a nail in the center.
More important than the roundabouts, however, will be the signage. The University is generally good about putting up signs. For instance, there’s a sign at every entrance to the Inner Quad – and on every trash can in said quad – that sternly reminds non-pedestrians they’re not wanted anywhere near the premises. These metal signs are reinforced by walking human signs who often holler down the arcade to let you know you’re still not wanted.
In order for these roundabouts to work, the University has to make it clear that you go counterclockwise around the circle, rather than clockwise. If there were ever any accidents near the old roundabout, they were most likely caused by bikers wanting to take a shortcut ’round the other way. Like most any traffic law, the counterclockwise rule can’t be eschewed by the vast majority of bikers, or we’ll have problems during rush hour. And at Stanford, rush hour occurs at the top of every hour.
Best of luck to the University with this project. Let’s hope the Class of 2011 won’t have to fear the Intersection of Death every time they climb onto their bikes. As for the rest of us, we’re probably scarred for life.