Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Dealing with one thing at a time

When you drive, or even ride a bike, there are a lot of things you need to deal with just riding. You need to control your speed, you need to keep the foot on the pedal the exact amount, you need to think about not hitting the curb or grass, you need to focus on the road, making sure you see warnings and regulations, on multi lane roads you need to know whether people are switching lanes, in particular, going in or out of your own lane, and you need to be able to do it at night too. People are people and don't always make sure to not use mobile devices, be sober or awake. Highway hypnosis is when on a straight, flat highway with nothing really to see, it's the same one kilometre to the next. It makes you tired very quickly, even when you had a full night of sleep and a coffee.

It makes that dealing with as few things as possible at a time is essential to safety. Humans are remarkably incapable of multi tasking that well. Combine that with a heavy machine going at high speed and you have a recipe for problems.

This also applies to someone on a bicycle. It's difficult to focus on everything you need to do, and do things like look over your shoulder, judging the speed of cars, thinking about what you need to do and planning ahead, while keeping the bicycle straight at speed, and balancing as you do. And given that children also ride bicycles, and more elderly people do it, it needs to be something with a much wider range of people accepted. And you are inevitably going to have the guy on their cell phone, talking on their cell phone, drunk, high, etc, riding their bicycle, and while they're dumb ideas, at least a car shouldn't be running them over.

So dealing with as few things as possible should be implemented. A single lane road has some benefits that multi lane roads don't. You can't have cars shunting you from the side on a single lane road on an ordinary stretch of road. Just one of the benefits. A cycle path should be added to all high speed high volume roads, so that you have a place to ride, a place where everyone knows who will be where, no more questions about whether a cyclist is on the sidewalk or roadway. It also makes that you can break up intersections into a series of steps. You can bend out a cycle path between 5 and 7 metres, sometimes 10 metres or more, from an intersection, letting a car, or someone else for that matter, turn from a roadway at a slow pace, face the cycle path 90 degrees, and not in the way of traffic from the main road, making drivers feel OK about waiting, able to look both ways for cyclists and pedestrians, and proceed. The middle of the road can have a waiting area in the middle. Especially useful in places like near the Best Buy in South Edmonton Common, where I often have hard times turning left out of because of the constant flow, but I don't want more traffic lights. This also lets cyclists break up crossings in a similar way. Pedestrians again also can do this. They already do at modern roundabouts.

Having separate turn lanes in each direction at a traffic light allows each lane to be controlled separately, maximizing the output of the intersection, for example when a left turn arrow is being used for a NB to WB turn, EB to SB can also get a right turn, as there are no conflicts. Same with bicycles and pedestrians. If they have their own signal, it can be controlled separately, and lets them deal with as few things as possible at a time. It removes ambiguity about who is controlled by which signal. And the separate turn lanes at a traffic light removes a lot of pressure to make the turn in the quickest possible way, with less regard for oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

Roundabouts, with single lanes, cyclists yielding and median refuges, and a non annular cycle path design, lets people deal with as few things as possible at a time. You know that the traffic will come from one direction only at a time, and in only a single lane. It's always look left, then right, regardless of which direction. The median refuges and the space between the cycle path going straight on and bypassing the roundabout and the turning area lets you break up the crossing and have good sightlines. The self enforcing speeds of roundabouts keeps it low, 25-30 km/h. You can see very well.

The local access roads being the only roads you use to access homes and businesses has the advantage that what you are doing is at a lower speed, so you have more time to react. A lot more time to react. In all your thinking about the cyclist in front of you, the little kids on the sidewalk, opening your garage door, and pulling to the right to deal with the tight corner radii, means that you have as little to do at high speed as possible, because you don't have the high speed. And the near lack of moving cars, and bicycles are less frequent because they are on their main routes, on completely separate bike paths usually, makes that you have much less traffic to deal with, and much less pressure on you to do anything in a hurry.

Freeway interchanges are designed so you have as few things to do at once as much as possible. You turn left or right onto the ramp, then you accelerate up to highway speeds, and then you have plenty of space to merge. Why not have the same logic on our ordinary roads.

This strongly relates to Sustainable Safety in that you have perception of your tasks to do and how you are going to complete them, also formulated in the words: Road user awareness. It's a critical element to making roads safe. Humans unfortunately don't have the power to extinguish our fallibility, so the next best thing is to make our roads understand this, and deal with the problem directly, rather than huge campaigns to warn people of various dangers. If things feel natural, they do it. 130-140 is a natural speed of traffic on the highways where it is clear, mostly flat, fairly straight and wide with grade separation and a divide between the two directions. So designing for that speed in mind is usually the best thing to do. A speed bump on a freeway is not something people go over. Designing roads so that a 50 km/h speed on a distributor road away from homes with separate bike paths feels natural and so will in fact do it is the best medicine. It removes the need to determine the best speed, because you feel torn between the speed of traffic and the speed limit, like I often am on rural 110 km/h zones.


Update


I found a perfect example of where you have to do many things at once, leading to problems. So many problems that in Edmonton, you are more likely to be killed by a car than another human with a weapon. It's not far from my house, but thankfully I can't see it from my home's windows. 

Ellerslie Road and Blackmud Creek Drive is the intersection in question. Lets look at it from all four approaches: 


Let's look at all the things that take a ton of looking around in all different directions, made even harder in inclement weather, night, congestion and or driver distraction/drunkenness. 

The right on red: You have the pressure of drivers behind you to turn right as fast as possible, the limited visibility to the left due to the walls, the sidewalk and paths making it more complicated, and often pulling ahead to check for motor traffic while stopping in the crosswalk. Also because of the arrangement of lanes on the south side, you have 3 lanes plus a right turn lane to check for when turning right from Blackmud Creek Drive, and this can be a challenge during the best of times. 

Turning left from Ellerslie: You have traffic behind you, you have oncoming traffic, a cycle path or a sidewalk in your way, from both directions, with no space to turn left and deal with other traffic first and then the path/sidewalk, and if the light turns yellow, the oncoming traffic has the right of way but you also need to clear the intersection if you're beyond the stop line.  At least you have a dedicated lane and plenty of room to decelerate from 60 km/h and an advance green during the busiest times. 

Going straight on on Ellerslie. You have oncoming left turning traffic, and you are not quite sure about what they'll do, you have traffic turning right on red, and you have 60 km/h posted speeds and potentially much higher than that. You also have the lane that will be a right turn lane to go into the church down the road to deal with and get out of. 

Turning right from Ellerslie. You have the oncoming left turning traffic to deal with, not sure whether they will give you the right of way or not, you have pedestrians in both directions to deal with, you have the cyclists from the shared use path to deal with, including the hidden path that only rejoins the main path a few tens of metres away. You have no room to turn right first, then yield to cyclists and pedestrians, and you have cyclists turning right and sometimes left who might do onto the main road. 

As you can see, a large number of problems. 

The most ideal solution I have is to get rid of the third curbside lane on Ellerslie going East, get rid of the right on red, add cycle tracks on the collector roads, and separate pedestrians and cyclists with a separate sidewalk and widening the bike path to 3.5-4 metres. Add about 5-6 metres of space to turn first, then deal with the bike/pedestrian crossing, have separate turn signals for traffic, as in, no conflicts allowed. Add a physical island that while not allowing the right on red, does allow for the right turning traffic to be obligated to turn. Add bus lanes to the middle of the road, removing the conflicts with buses stopping, and give buses the ability to get priority from the traffic lights. Impose a 50 km/h speed limit and narrow the lane widths to 3.1 metres in each lane, and add a speed table to enforce this. Tighten up the corner radii for motor traffic too. Use fully actuated signals for the traffic lights. And finally, add median refuges for cyclists and pedestrians. It removes the conflicts permitted via the mixed turn/thru stages, the right on red conflicts, and a host of others. 

It is an example of how to make it really safe. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Mini Netherlands Edmonton.

A lot of talk is going around in the UK about Mini Hollands programs, the idea being making neighbourhoods as good as Dutch ones. A few show some promise, but they still have a long ways to go. Lets see what we could do in my neighbourhood. Allow me to use the correct name for the country in question. (CGPGrey explains elegantly here).

Lets first get the nearby through roads right. Electronic management system and perhaps a higher speed limit on HWY 2, maybe extending the 110 north of the Henday, and Anthony Henday Drive, up to perhaps 120, and maybe HOV lanes or a third lane, perhaps shoulder running. This gets them up to the capacity required.

Next are the nearby distributors. These are 127 St, Ellerslie Rd, 30 Ave, 41 Ave and James Mowatt Trail/111 St. They need to be upgraded. 50 km/h speed limits except for 41 Ave, where a 70 limit is probably better, replacement of all traffic lights and planned stop signs where public roads are intersecting with roundabouts except at the DQ on Ellerslie Road (transformed into a bicycle and pedestrian only intersection with a light controlled crossing designed like this), and the intersections of Blackmud Creek Drive and Ellerslie and MacEwan Rd and 111 St, where they become roads designed as protected intersections. 41 Ave and James Mowatt gets a turbo roundabout, the interchanges with the freeways get turbo roundabouts and Ellerslie Road and 111 St gets a turbo. All of them have an underpass for cyclists and pedestrians. They also get high quality cycleways.

The bus routes get shifted onto the arterial roads, and get traffic light priority at the remaining intersections, and have busways going right through the middle of roundabouts with lights that only serve to stop traffic when buses come. They get new bus lanes in the middle of the road, and bus stops get transformed with reduced step up height, tactile edge, cycle parking, shelters and real time arrival information. I found that on Ellerslie Rd just to the west of Blackmud Creek Drive, the median itself is sufficiently wide to hold a pair of 3.2 metre wide bus lanes and still have 90 cm wide curbed medians between the bus lanes and roadway. Without modifying the width of the roadway between the outer curbs, there is enough room for a pair of bus lanes and no reduction in the number of motor vehicle lanes and no banned turns or reduced turn lanes at the intersection itself. The LRT should but is not required to extend to the city limits or Ellerslie Rd for this to work.

The cycleways need to be improved. At minor side roads they need to bend out a bit, to 5-6 metres, with tighter corner radii and a raised table. Building a separate sidewalk to keep those conflicts down. Widening them out to 3.5-4 metres of width. The separation from the road in general is good, though more trees wood be useful. Pun intended. And the design of the cycleways needs to be continuous and not needing to dismount or ride illegally on sidewalks.

Now I can get into the interesting bit within my neighbourhood.

On the two collector roads, Blackmud Creek Drive and Blackmud Creek Crescent, we have some work to do. A 40 km/h speed limit immediately, they are collector roads within a neighbourhood, not linking multiple neighbourhoods. And some new cycleways. Most of the length will have cycle lanes, though some sections will get a completely separate cycle path. The parts that get cycle paths away from the roadway is a pair of one way paths between Beck Close and Ellerslie Road, so that there's some separation close to the edge of the neighbourhood. And the other part is a pair of one way paths between Bowen Wynd and Blackmud Creek Drive on the Crescent on the west side at the park. And the other area with a cycle path is on the area of Blackmud Creek Drive between the playground and James Mowatt Trail, with a 4 metre wide bidirectional path. This has an advantage in that you don't have to cross the road to get to the school and park.

And finally, whenever there is no parking on a side of the road, then it gets a separate cycle path. This is because it widens out sufficiently to have a pair of 2.5 metre wide cycle paths protected by at least a metre of a median. Sometimes it will narrow, the median that is, but never less than 80 cm next to parking and never less than 35 cm next to moving traffic. The motor vehicle lanes are reduced to 2.5 metres, for two directions, for a grand total of a 5 metre wide road. I also widen out the sidewalks to 2 metres, sometimes more than 3 near the park and school, wide enough that you could fit a car with a plow fitted to the front on it, and giving plenty of space to walk. Which is exactly what will become more attractive, as well as cycling.

Where I can't put in a cycle path, then it gets cycle lanes, unless it is a 30 km low volume road. The cycle lanes are at least 2 metres wide, and if next to parking, has a small buffer to reduce the impact of the door zone, paved with beige bricks. 2 metre wide cycle lanes are the norm in the Netherlands for new cycle lanes, and given that I have the room here, I can order 2 metre wide lanes. The sidewalk is also widened to 2 metres.

Don't worry too much about the narrower lanes. 2.5 metres is actually considerably wider than normal cars. And trucks would have a prohibition, only goods vehicles less than 3.5 metric tonnes (3500 kg) would be allowed, and even semis are 2.6 metres in width, and those are banned). Buses while being 2.6 metres wide also, they are also not routed through the neighbourhood. When I have 2.5 metre wide lanes then it also means that there will be a cycle lane too where a vehicle could use if it absolutely had to, like a firetruck.

On the minor side roads, I bend out the cycle lane whenever I can, same with the cycle paths, sometimes I also close minor side streets to A reduce shortcutting and B to reduce conflicts. Having a tight corner radii and a steep curb, probably about a 5% gradient, to go up to the height of the cycleway and then another ramp to go over the sidewalk, again at a 5% gradient, makes that nobody will go faster than walking pace. Designed a bit like this:https://www.google.ca/maps/@51.692239,5.2716537,3a,75y,52.12h,67.73t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s990aN71Jm3KJgsZxO7X8bg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en. I know that there are a lot of driveways and it will be somewhat of a challenge, but getting them right is possible, and you can actually ride past driveways without even noticing. Watch this video to see what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6imqI8VfwNo&index=113&list=PLB271D0D935C03800/

At the intersection where the two stop signs are, both intersections of Blackmud Creek Drive and Blackmud Creek Crescent, it could be configures like a mini roundabout with non annular cycle paths around it, or it could be configured where the traffic going EB to SB and NB to WB on the park side intersection and from NB to EB and WB to SB on the eastern intersection has the right of way. In the latter case, the section of the Drive in the middle should have the access for cars on both sides closed off and local traffic has to access it from the east side, and be redesigned as a low volume 30 km/h access road.

Another access closure needs to be implemented. It affects private motor traffic at the intersection of Bailey Court and the Crescent, stopping traffic on the Crescent. It does not affect emergency vehicles or cyclists. It stops shortcutting traffic from outside the neighbourhood. More closures need to be added to stop traffic from having the potential to use a minor side street loop as a bypass, and to permit only one way to get from any individual home to the main arterial road by private motor vehicle. It makes cycling more attractive and more pleasant with the traffic. Finally, the remaining access into the neighbourhood at Bowen Wynd and James Mowatt Trail needs to be closed to motor traffic and have a median refuge for cyclists and pedestrians created, along with lane narrowing from a redesigned ordinary width of 3.1 metres to 2.8 metres, a wiggle and a speed table, all designed for 50 km/h speeds.

The minor access roads need to be redesigned. The surface would become brick paved, to provide an audible warning of motor vehicles when one comes along, to make it clear just what kind of road you are on, to suggest a lower speed, and also to make it feel like a nicer street. We often have a tendency to have some sort of nostalgia for the brick paved roads for some reason, and people like it. So out with the asphalt (which is made of tar by the way, so we save on the environment too, you can make bricks out of clay and shale), and in with the brick. The intersections would be raised, to slow traffic and all indications of who goes first is removed. People would need to be educated that this means yield to traffic who came first, if two came around the same time, the traffic from the right goes first. pretty much all signage goes away, except for a sign at the entrance that you are in the 30 km/h zone, and a sign on the exit saying that the 30 limit no longer applies. The intersections are also equipped with curb extensions and tight corner radii, cyclists on a 4-6 metre wide roadway couldn't care less about a corner radius that tight, but cars take it slowly. The rolling curb is also replaced with a vertical one, though with those steep ramps that don't roll into a gutter at first. The drains are also replaced with drains in the curbs themselves. If a curb is directly next to the road, it's sloped at 45 degrees.

Parking is removed where possible, as far as I can tell, everyone except those in apartments have driveways, and even those in apartments have parkades and a parking lot to park in. And pretty much every home I see has garages, mostly 2 car garages. Very little more is needed. And no parking is needed where there isn't a home facing the road, like near the park. A few spaces remain for those who want to drive there, but especially near the school, the parking spaces are removed. There is going to be a small lot for the staff and visitors, but the drop off zone too could be brick, and come with a low speed limit, maximum 30, maybe even just 15-20 km/h. A stopping ban near the school would also prevent people stopping further into then neighbourhood. And besides, with improvements like this, a large chunk of the students coming here will walk or cycle, maybe over 75% of them.

Of the parking that remains, it will be raised a few centimetres, probably 5, above the road surface and have an angled curb, around 30 degree angle, and paved with a completely different colour and pattern of brick. The parking bays are 2 metres wide, and where possible, equipped with a 50-120 cm wide beige brick buffer also paved in a slightly different pattern than the main roadway, to act as a door zone warning. Curb extensions would be used wherever parking is not allowed, so that it cannot optically widen the road. It extends the full 2 metres of the width of the parking bays, and the door zone beige brick zone if used. It makes the effective corner radii tight, to slow down traffic.

And finally, the pathways away from roads are improved. The little shortcuts are widened, to between 3.2 and 4 metres of width, depending on usage, and equipped with lighting, and a sidewalk when possible. The part that links it to the roadway is redesigned as a long, smooth ramp, rather than a rolled curb. This also applies to the path between Barnes Way and the Sobeys, long and smooth with a good transition to the parking lot. Main routes are upgraded, to 3.5-4 metres of width, and paths are built to connect it with Callaghan and the commercial area to the east across the creek, and upgraded with lighting. The recreational routes are better signposted and some sort of lighting system is added in some way that it doesn't affect the wildlife but still allows people to see. The gradients are lowered when possible and paths are paved and straightened where it is possible to do so.

It will be an area where children are able to go and meet friends without needing to worry about the traffic, with the parents not being worried, people cycle to all sorts of locations and people cycle and walk to school. Collisions are rare and injuries are practically unheard of, and serious injuries and deaths are absent. The cycling and walking rate within the neighbourhood to the elementary school is at least 90%, only dropping to 80% during the winter, people feel safe to ride, even in winter, and the roads become calm, peaceful and quiet and never a nuisance to people. An area that serves as inspiration for other areas in Edmonton. And hopefully combined with making other areas more friendly to ride, downtown and the UofA and Strathcona, the rest of Heritage Valley, South Edmonton common (just try to find a parking space there on the saturday before Christmas), and the entire city, and transit reorganization, the modal share can go up by tens of percents, maybe more than a third of people on bike, and another third walking or taking transit. Hopefully the only sounds you'll hear near the playground are children playing and the bells on bicycle handlebars ringing, not motor engines or car horns.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Google maps distance measurement tool

I discovered something that's going to make my life and a lot of other cycle campaigners lives easier. On google maps, right click any point you want to measure from, and on the little box that appears, select measure distance, and then select the next point you want to measure, and right click again and click stop measuring or something like that to cancel. It also works with satellite views, and you can zoom in fairly well without loosing too much quality.

Before, road managers could very easily claim that roads are too narrow or that the status quo is fine and give you a false perception as to how wide it really is. A sidewalk you can measure yourself but carrying a tape measure everywhere is a challenge, and you might obstruct pedestrian traffic in a downtown area. You can't really measure a road unless there isn't traffic to endanger you while you do it, which rules out measuring, arterial roads. You'd be surprised just how wide they are. Try measuring the width and length of a car, I measured one at 2 metres wide and 4.7 metres long. Even a truck was only 2.5 metres wide. I felt like the nearest large intersection to me, Ellerslie Road and 111 St, might be too small for quite the treatment I had in mind, an ordinary traffic light controlled intersection. I discovered that there is easily enough space for a turbo roundabout with a bicycle and pedestrian underpass. It measured 108 metres across. A Dutch turbo I found had 54 metres of diameter. Half the width.

I felt like a collector near my home was 20 metres across, it was actually 18.7, but that still only meant I had to very slightly narrow the tree boulevard by 20 cm each and remove a car parking buffer. The cycle lanes remained 2 metres wide each, the sidewalks could be widened to 2 metres each and the rest of the road remained 5 metres wide.

Sometimes when dishonesty or believing whatever a traffic manager tells you rules because of a lack of ability to check it for yourself in person, you can now check it with a very simple program and just about any computer. In just about any country anywhere (Germany with a lack of wifi outside your home and office).

Especially a problem is the lack of ability to see on roads that have already been built, because the plans are just locked in some cabinet somewhere and people rarely get the time to make a FOIPP request (freedom of information and privacy protection act Alberta, look up local equivalents). Now everyone can see.

I like an example I saw near that Ellerslie Road area. The cycle paths, which are bidirectional, are 2.4 metres. That's narrow under Dutch path requirements (their one direction paths are wider than this bidirectional path!) but too narrow for even Edmonton modern standards. It requires at least 2.5 metres, 3 metres standard and wider ones for higher volumes. Dutch standards slightly vary on the minimums, but the ones I follow are 3.2 metres minimum, 3.5 metres to 4 metres standard depending on the importance of the route and volumes of course. And I found easily that there is room for a sidepath crossing a minor side street to have a sufficiently wide 4 metre wide path and 6.5 more metres of separation from the road, allowing for vehicles to turn 90 degrees to face the path, at a slow speed, with a corner radius and a speed table designed for about 10-15 km/h, with enough time so that I riding on the path, can cycle forward and easily have enough time to know if a vehicle is turning. Even if the vehicle doesn't signal and I don't shoulder check, I will know in time if it's coming to slow down.

The width of the motor vehicle lanes easily explains why speeding is rampant. I measure meany lanes to be 4 metres wide or more. Wide enough to park 2 cars side by side. Wide enough for 130 km/h+ if the width was transplanted onto a freeway, wider than Dutch standard motorway lanes, designed for 130 km/h. Imagine if the lane was 2.9-3.1 metres wide on an arterial. How much less common would speeding be and by how much? Especially if combined with other measures like speed tables designed for the speed limit and roundabouts, and wiggles in the road (not the TV show which aired was it 9 or 11 years ago?), the speeding rate will go down considerably.

This mapping tool is a useful piece of technology that lets us know how far, wide and long things are. I will be using it a lot for future blog posts.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Signage improvements

Along with making a road instantly familiar depending on what it does, freeways have two lanes in each direction separated by a median, no at grade crossings and a shoulder, access roads are narrow roads, mixed with cyclists at least in most urban areas and intersections are uncontrolled, distributors have traffic lights or roundabouts or the right of way over side streets, cyclists have their own paths or dedicated lanes, and there is enough room within your own side of the street to operate an ordinary car on it, signs can have a big impact on how people understand a road.

But we have a not entirely great system of roadway signs and signals. We have it better than the US signs which have quite a lot more words on them, but we still have a long way to go. You can feasibly drive throughout Europe with dozens of languages in a small space and know nothing about the local language except for the name of the cities you expect to find and some knowledge about the traffic signs. It would be helpful to know what the most basic words are, like except, but not that many more words are needed beyond that. You even know what the default speed limits are based on a sign posted at the borders. Though do note that the UK uses the imperial system for measurement, which has a crucial difference between 50 miles per hour (80 km/h) and 50 kilometres per hour.

They use a system called the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals. It defines what kind of signs and traffic lights are to be used for what purpose. This is why a stop signal is red throughout Europe, and the world for that matter, not purple in Belgium, yellow in France and blue in Germany. It also defines a stop in order to give crossing traffic the right of way sign is a red octagon with either Stop or the local translation of the word on it in white lettering. Same as in North America. We usually just use a stop on the sign, though the Quebecois, doing everything they can to be different, use Arret in it. The meaning is obvious due to the shape. No other sign is allowed to be octagonal, and especially no octagonal signs with red on it. And yield signs are the same as in Europe, although some places use yellow instead of white, but the meaning is similar enough.

The basics of the signs are as follows:

A white or yellow sign with a red border in an equilateral triangle shape with the a point being up is a warning.

A white or yellow circular sign with a red border indicated either a prohibition or a limit, like no vehicles higher than 4 metres or no faster than 70 km/h.

A blue sign with white letters and numbers indicate things you have to do or they set aside lanes for certain types of traffic.

A rectangular sign is either an informational sign, a parking regulation sign if it has the word P on it, or if it's white and right under a warning, mandatory or prohibitory/limit sign, then it's giving extra information, like only applying during certain times of the day.

The exact system of indicating the importance of routes varies country to country, in the UK, motorway signs are blue, primary routes are green, local destinations are white and brown is for tourist destinations. In Germany, the system is blue for motorways, white for local destinations, brown for tourist destinations and yellow for everything else. In the Netherlands, blue signs are for cars, red signs are for cyclists, green signs are for recreational routes for cyclists and I believe that brown signs might be other tourist destinations but I am not sure.

Once you learn the system in one country, you can apply nearly everything to everywhere that has implemented the system.

I am not going to be so radical as to completely implement the Vienna Conventions. I would like to, a sign system that applies to every country is like making every country use the metric system, everyone knows what any sign means in any country, but I am not entirely sure that it would be a good idea to fully implement it, especially if the rest of Canada and the US don't follow quickly. I understand both systems, but not everyone will. I guess the arguments against are sounding like the arguments against metric. I think the problem is making it a system that people will actually use in more places. Most people in Canada stay in Canada or the US, and switching systems like that is a challenge. A lot like when I try to decipher a 45 mph limit on a US road.

But we can make a lot of changes without making it too difficult to understand. Australia and New Zealand has a useful way of indicating a speed limit. A red ring around a number with the limit being that number in kilometres per hour. This could be implemented now. To make it clear that it is a speed limit sign, km/h could be added under the sign, a weatherproof sticker perhaps, until people can get to know it. It is a symbolic way, or in this case non worded (anything worded has the potential for a mistranslation, and it's just harder to understand at a glance) way of saying the speed limit is X km/h.

The default speed limit can be indicated with a sign on the provincial boundaries and on signs at the exits of airports with flights going inter provincial or international. It has the name of the province in question, and the categories of roads. In Alberta, the limits could be 50 in urban areas, 70 in rural areas, and 130 km/h on roads for motor traffic only and freeways. It is a simple sign, adopted from Europe, where these are ubiquitous. And to distinguish urban areas, renamed the built up areas, to differentiate between the municipal border and where it actually looks like an urban area. No need to have 50 limits in the rural northeast until it actually gets developed into an urban road, even more so if Edmonton get's its way in the Leduc annexation proposal. Also useful because it makes no sense to apply urban regulations to a freeway that happens to run through a built up area. And many areas in rural areas feel like urban ones. Sherwood Park for example, possibly the largest hamlet in the world, a city in all but name. And on smaller scales, like Nisku. It just has the name of the built up area on a white rectangle sign when you enter, and the same idea but with a red stripe through it when you leave, and it displays the new speed limit for that road. Usually 50 or 70, but it can also be different, like 30 through villages or 70  when crossing into an urban through road. A sign with the greyed out version of the sign with a red stripe through it will mean the end of the signed speed limit. Like the end of a 70 limit on a through road. Useful when knowing whether a reduced speed zone has ended or not.

We need some new signs to indicate freeways and motor vehicle only routes. I've mentioned these before, but here is what they would do. For freeways, the international sign that indicates this are a pair of carriageways with a bridge over it. Because our regulatory signs are black and white on a rectangle, we would make ours rectangular and with the background being white with the icons being black. This sign would mean all of the following: Minimum speed of 60 km/h. Speed limit is 130 km/h. No stopping, U turns or parking (unless unavoidable, like if your car breaks down suddenly). No vehicles wider than 2.7 metres or taller than 4.5 metres without a special permit. No animals, horses, farm equipment (unless it is small enough and can go at least 60), no pedestrians, bicycles and no mopeds either. The same regulations apply to roads classified as expressways, or otherwise are signed as a road for motorized traffic only. It has a square white sign with a black car shape on it, looking at the front, and it means that it does not fully meet freeway standards, but has characteristics of a freeway. Not completely grade separated, not completely divided, not completely with at least 2 lanes per direction or not completely having a road shoulder will work like this.

We can also replace "For X kilometres" with just two upwards arrows on either side of a number and km or m, which means metres. And we can use the letter m for metres in general too. Some other worded signs include road closed. We can replace this with a red ring around a white sign with two arrows in opposite direction, with a slash through it. Minimum speed limits can be indicated with a green ring around a number, meaning you have to do it. We can even use the standard sign for a right turn lane to mean a freeway style exit, and use the European symbol for exit and a number to show which exit number we are talking about.

Maximum height signs should be white and in a red ring, as a yellow sign would just be a warning.

We can also simplify parking regulations. On rural roads, you are not allowed to park directly off a road with a white line on the side. In urban areas you are not permitted to park on any road with a speed limit higher than 30 km/h unless specifically signed.  It's a simple idea but it removes a lot of the need for parking regulation signs. And we can also replace seasonal ban with a symbol for ice, or perhaps a snow clearing vehicle.

Bicycle path signs, with green rings and a bicycle in it, would be more common as cycle paths are built. Bus lanes physically separated from the road would have a bus in a green ring rather than the sign for transit lane. Bus lanes and cycle lanes not physically separated would become less common though. And bus/cycle lanes would go away in favour of separate paths for cyclists. Taxis may or may not be permitted in bus lanes in the future, given that the definition of a taxi is spotty (uber) and they shouldn't be the kind of transport we prioritize.

On the approach to intersections, a sign will describe the directional use signs, so the left lane goes to the left, the middle lane goes straight on, and the right lane leads to the right. It varies obviously but is important. I have often made mistakes because I didn't know what the lane use sign meant. And so have many people driving.

Here is a big part of what I propose. On signs where the main message of the sign is inside a circle, and the rest of the sign outside the circle isn't contributing, then make the sign itself circular, and cut away the excess metal. This reduces the clutter and reduces the load that needs to be carried by the posts, and there is less space the wind could catch. People pretty much just pay attention to the message anyway, not really the rectangle. No parking signs are just a red ring around a white background, with a black P and a red slash through the sign. It doesn't really need the background.

Traffic lights have some opportunity to improve. First, advance turn or protected turn will be a solid green, not flashing green, like the right turn arrow is now. Next, amber and red arrows are used instead of the yellow and red circles plus either a no turn on red or a left turn signal sign. If they are arrows, there is no mistaking the meaning, and the signs aren't needed. It leaves it very uncluttered. The signals governing the through traffic uses an upwards arrow, to be very clear about it. Note this only applies if the oncoming left turns are protected prohibited. If you are making a turn where you don't go roughly 90 degrees in either direction, like a continuous flow intersection, then an angled arrow will be used to govern the turn. The right turn on red will be prohibited except to cyclists and mopeds, they will be allowed to make a right on red after yielding. It also gives them an extra advantage over motor traffic. Bus signals are implemented, to govern buses wherever they have their own lanes, same with LRT, like in Downtown Calgary, using white bars.

Flashing red and yellow arrows are added to the mix, flashing red means stop before making a turn, then yield to conflicting traffic, and flashing amber means yield to conflicting traffic, then turn. These will be uncommon, but could be an option in limited cases. In case the traffic lights fail or there isn't enough traffic to justify having them on the separate signals for different directions mode, there will be yield signs, and a new priority road sign (a yellow diamond with a white background) that indicates you have the right of way, to govern the traffic. The lights if they still work will flash, usually amber, and if you face the yield sign, it is like a 2 way yield, if you don't see the yield sign you see a priority road indication, you have the right of way, sometimes if traffic can't be seen well enough, a stop sign might also be used and flashing red will be shown to that direction. Like a two way stop. Countdown timers are added in the yellow head of the signal, so you know when the lights change, useful for reducing frustration. And finally, traffic lights will now be on the nearside of the intersection, with the stop line set back a few meters so you can still see the light.

All of these improvements should lead to a more concise system of signage and traffic lights and reduce the clutter, and make the road more self explanatory. Let's put pressure on those responsible for signs and signals where you live to live up to this system.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Cycling rallies

When anyone holds a cycling rally, here are some things that I would like you to do. This means the rallies to promote cycling, not race.

Try to involve your children and friends if you can. The more the merrier, and children coming helps to signify others who benefit from cycling infrastructure. Get friends who use wheelchairs, scooters or those electric scooters too to come along if you can.

Dress up in your ordinary clothes, just think what you would were if you were walking outside. This will vary depending on the weather, but just think about walking on a nice path in the park. And preferably not bring helmets, high viz or lycra/spandex, and ride whatever you have that as closely as possible resembles an omafiets or if you have one, a bakfiets. If you already have a bakfiets or omafiets, then great, use that. This makes cycling seem very relatable to people, just as easy as driving is, with no special clothes or preparations. This may land you a fine depending on what the laws in your particular area define for helmet laws, but mass civil disobedience is capable of bringing effective change, and if something like 1200 people show up with no helmets, how long do you think it will take for the police to ticket them all? Especially do this with children. Them not wearing helmets is a major rejection of regular advice and helps to show that you demand the infrastructure needed to prevent collisions not have a slightly better chance of getting through a collision alright. Do you think that MLK Jr wore mountain climbing gear and encouraged his followers to do the same when he was protesting? No, he wore ordinary attire and made every effort to make his campaign be relatable to people. Cycling can do the same.

Act like a Dutch cyclist would. 1200 people riding through a stop sign, police won't have the ability to give tickets to you all, and it's a fairly modest fine for most people hopefully, and a quick phone call to the prosecutor can reduce any fines considerably. And given the damage you actually did do, you don't need a big fine, and in many cases no fine at all. Don't endanger yourself, don't ride into traffic, but make it clear that the roads we have now have got to go.

These rallies can really help, but it must advocate for the kind of cycling that people actually are willing to do, not the often appearing out of touch lycra clad kind. This sort of out of touch thing can really make people unpopular. Think of the Bushes after the LA riots and Hurricane Katrina. Make cycling look like something that the common person looks like they are capable and even if slowly, you will gain ground.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Horse Hills

The city made a plan for an area in the northeast, past Anthony Henday, south of Manning Drive, named Horse Hills. This is a good opportunity to make an area just as good as a Dutch suburb can be for cycling, walking, transit and environmental friendliness. We have nearly a blank slate here. There is Manning Drive, a couple railway lines to the west, the North Saskatchewan River to the Southeast, plus a few homes and buildings that are currently being used.  We have the opportunity to do everything right.

But yet the city fails to design with transit, cycling and walking taking precedence over cars. The arterials are still planned to be divided 4 laners, and the LRT is not the most direct route, nor do buses get any way to take straight lines unless an arterial already does that. It talks a lot about walkability, but this has been done for the structure plan for my neighbourhood and ones near mine, and nothing happened to make walking attractive. And walking is a very different means of transport than cycling. There is no grid, closely connected bicycle paths spaced 500-750 metres apart for primary routes. Also, a lot of the commerce is centred on the arterial roads. This is a big mistake. An arterial road (the Dutch would call our arterials a mix of through and distributor roads) is for traffic to get from A to B quickly in high volumes, not give access to the commerce, or homes for that matter. Even access roads don't have to be centred on homes, they can also be centred on taking traffic from the arterial to the end destination, in this case, the commerce.

Putting the commerce near the large roads also means that car dependency is massively boosted. Putting it dead centre in each neighbourhood, just enough for that neighbourhood, for all the different kinds of amenities you might need, like restaurants, groceries, a few different kinds of stores for groceries to encourage competition, health services, a bike shop or two for all your needs related to that, coffee house, all those sorts that you go to on a regular basis, they could all exist in the centres of neighbourhoods, especially if the city didn't require anything other than handicapped parking. We obligate businesses to have a lot of parking, and putting it underground is expensive. If transit use made up about 10% of journeys, cycling 65% and walking 15% for going to stores, then a tenth of the parking is even needed assuming it all was before. And it was not all needed before. All areas should be walkable, as well as cyclable and transit friendly.

I also note that a lot of the walk ability part of this plan, and where the options that are even more important the less income you have is mostly near the town centre, where prices are likely to be higher.

First, create a direct light rail line through the area, away from motor traffic, designed for 80 km/h, the fastest our trains are capable of. Create a network of bus only roads completely away from motor traffic, spaced about 1.2 km apart or so, meaning that you won't be further away than 600 metres from a bus stop. Organize the bus routes entirely around that system of bus lanes, buses only even running on those bus lanes makes for a high frequency permitting, reliable and fast bus system.

Create the cycling routes at 500-750 metre intervals for primary routes and 250-350 metres apart for secondary routes. Make homes and businesses face those paths. Then put in the homes and shops,  the latter of which concentrated around the transit stops and cycle routes.

Create access roads for motor traffic, designed in a way that doesn't even act like the intended routes for bicycles, they only function as roads which you use to get to homes and businesses. Design them as traffic calmed 30 km/h zones with lots of filtered permeability, where cyclists and pedestrians can go, but not cars. On the roads that don't function as the way cars get around within neighbourhoods but are only used by the residents of that very street, build them as living yards, or woonerven.

Pick one or two accesses from each neighbourhood as the road that will intersect with an arterial road, rebranded as a distributor, with one lane per direction with a median between them, no parking and no direct access to anything other than access roads and through roads, and build the intersection as a single lane roundabout. Oh, and raise the distributor up about 2 metres to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to go under the roundabout.

Roundabouts as a method of controlling traffic both between distributors and other distributors, distributors and busy access roads (speeds may be 30 km/h but if it has more than 2000 vpd then it needs cycle paths, but it's use as the means to get into a neighbourhood is fine), and even between through road intersections (both through roads in this area are grade separated, so I am referring to the interchange ramps) are not mentioned. They are getting a bit of popularity in brand new developments which is a good sign, even in Edmonton, but are still uncommon (just look at this suburb in Winnipeg. Roundabouts everywhere: https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.7976482,-97.1926309,15z?hl=en). Im my plan, it could very well be a stop sign and traffic light free area, which would be amazing progress. Even if there are traffic lights, they are likely going to be very rare.

Manning Drive provides a good through route for traffic here, and so does Anthony Henday Drive, and given noise and visual barriers to make it so that living near it makes no difference, maximum use of the land can occur.

The density bugs me a little. It seems to suggest building the single detached homes that practically define suburban North America and Edmonton. Rowhouses are much denser, and four story apartments are also massively increasing the density and making better use of the land.

I also noticed under a little box in the ASP plan that cycle routes are to be planned at the neighbourhood structure plan. OK, is this it city planners? You think that they only matter on a micro scale of within neighbourhoods? That's very foolish. A good path that functions just like an arterial road, moving high volumes of cycle traffic on a fast cycle way (the literal translation of a fietssnelweg) needs to be planned on the same scale as arterial roads are. That means basing the neighbourhoods off the cycleway network, not the other way around.

And of the paths they do suggest, they consist of shared use paths. The only time when that is acceptable is if pedestrians never cause a disruption to cyclist movement on bike paths designed as if cyclists are the only means of travel on it because of their volume. It doesn't even suggest building separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists next to schools, where very high levels of pedestrian and cyclist activity can occur. In fact so high that if I cycle near a school like Johnny Bright, I have to get off my bike and walk because the volumes of pedestrians are too high. Any thing that obligates cyclists between the point of setting off and parking their bicycle at the other end to dismount has already failed as a cycleway in my opinion. It disqualifies it from being an acceptable option to me. If you are going to do this, why not make car drivers get out and push, after all, they pose a danger to pedestrians too?

 It suggests things like skiing and snowshoeing, plus walking, inline skating and cycling on the shared use path, exasperating the problem. Skiing also needs snow on the route they take, and if you snowshoe on a cleared path, why are you using snowshoes? It suggests that paths won't be cleared in winter despite it being a necessity to getting from A to B on a bicycle. Bike paths are supposed to be designed for one thing. Cycling at a reasonable speed to get from one point on it to another point. The exact same reason why distributor roads are built like this. They aren't designed to be shared with pedestrians and cyclists because it slows the travel down on a facility that should be designed for getting places.

A well designed path is intended so that you could go 50 km/h down it on a straight level path. Most people on upright bicycles won't go that fast but not everyone is on upright bicycles. Those on road bikes, with dropped handlebars and thin tires, people training for a race, conducting races, using velomobiles and recumbents, ideal for touring, mountain bikes being ridden towards a slope, are often going faster than 25 km/h. I've seen velos being ridden at 87 km/h down a hill. On flat land, about 40, often faster depending on the rider. These are not always people going on a tour, they are often people just getting to and from work. You can feasibly commute over 30 km/h in one of those velomobiles, if you've seen David Hembrow's blog, you probably know about his velo. Mopeds limited to 30 km/h are also at the right speed and mass to mix on a cycle path, although for the care of people's lungs I would add the regulation that only electric scooters/mopeds are allowed.

It says later on that opportunities for modal shift will be explored. No. Modal shift MUST be used to the greatest possible extent. This wording prevents a developed from shifting the cost of high use of cars to the city and public, and makes it possible for me and everyone else to criticize the city if they do not build the Dutch level infrastructure (taking good examples, not obsolete bike boxes, but the 3.5-4 metre wide cycle tracks separate from the road, 30 km/h, simultaneous green, protected intersections and roundabouts with cycle tracks around them, grade separations of large roads, etc) that have proven to be able to change the modal shift to 27% nationwide counting the rural areas and up to 60% in some cities. It also says that cycling and walking will be prioritized as a goal. The suggested policy? Absolutely nothing in relation to cycle tracks on all roads with volumes greater than 2000 vpd or speeds above 30 km/h (in existing areas cycle lanes are sometimes tolerable but only when the speed does not exceed 40 km/h and no more than 3500 vpd, in the new areas of the city, it's a blank slate, nearly all the land that we could need, so we can avoid cycle lanes entirely).

Dutch suburbs are much happier and healthier than ours, they have less congestion, less pollution and everyone feels genuinely safe. I found that the Kloosterveen in west Assen has 0 injuries and 0 deaths and very few collisions. What kind of Edmontonian suburb is like that? I challenge people to name one. You get featured with your own blog post if you can prove that a suburb in Edmonton is as bicycle and pedestrian friendly as the Kloosterveen. I expect that I will not have to write that post.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Arterial and through roads

The largest roads in a city are the arterials and through roads. The Dutch classify their roads as an access road, a 30 km/h (these are all for urban areas) zoned road that gives direct access to homes, businesses and other important destinations, through roads, for the fast traffic in high volumes at high speed, and distributor roads, which connect the two other types. I am going to talk about the distributors a bit but mainly the through roads.

Distributors have cycle tracks, completely separate from motor traffic, as they are a different type of roadway with a higher speed and more volume, except for a small number of kilometres where a cycle lane might be used. If it is used, they must be at least 1.7 metres wide, they should be between 2 and 2.5 metres in width, preferably with an extra buffer of .5 metres. What the buffer is is the subject of debate, but options such as paint and flex posts are presented. Cycle tracks are supposed to be used where possible. Retrofitting a newer collector could have cycle lanes and removal of one lane of parking, plus a speed limit of 40 km/h, but a reconstructed street would switch the location of the tree buffer and the cycle track and put parking directly next to motor traffic. And cycle tracks must be at least 2 metres wide, 3.2 metres for a bidirectional track, and should be 2.5 metres for the one way and between 3.5-4 metres in width depending on the kind of cycle track. The buffer, which needs to be a curb/median to be a proper cycle track, would need to be at least 35 cm next to moving traffic and 80 cm next to parking cars, with 1.5 metres as the standard width for being near 50 km/h traffic, and 2 metres for being next to 60 km/h traffic+.

I've talked about that before, but now, the through roads. These are the the largest roads that you can build. In the Netherlands, these are generally the freeways, roads with a blue background and white car on the entrance to them, ring roads, bypasses and most roads with 70 km/h speed limits, plus those with more than 1 lane per direction not counting turn lanes. These also tend to have a dashed white line very close to the right edge of the road, plus any road that has a significant amount of grade separation, minus separation from railways. They are also usually the ones linking entire districts to other places. Like Gateway Boulevard linking Heritage Valley to downtown. In Edmonton we have a bit of confusion with this because many of our four lane divided arterials tend to functionally behave like distributor roads. They link neighbourhoods to other neighbourhoods and to through roads. If you look at a map of a Dutch city, I will use Den Bosch as my example, the Zanzuidergweg is an example.

So what could this network of through roads look like?

The following roads would become the through roads, and any upgrades are described that would make it a good through road. The speed limit is also described, assuming the best possible conditions for traffic. Also, as much as possible, at an interchange with the main route going under or over on a bridge or tunnel, the remaining intersections changed to roundabout control. Electronic management system mean variable speed limit/lane use signs, ramp meters if there are freeway style ramps on non free flow interchanges, traffic flow sensors and overhead message boards. Also note that any bus stops also get an inlet for them to stop at, with less disruption. Any parallel cycleways/sidewalks will have a solid and wide buffer, preferably at least 3 metres wide, at least 1.5 metres of width. At speed limited areas above 50 km/h, noise walls and visual screening will be used to shield cyclists and pedestrians from motor traffic, and any crossings will be either grade separated or signalized above 50 km/h. Crossings of the through road itself should be grade separated where possible at speeds above 50 km/h. Minor access streets closed off and traffic diverted in some way to another route, building service roads if needed. Parclo interchanges without a right turn bypass lane on all arms will gain a right turn bypass ramp. At interchanges, any unsignalized crossings for pedestrians or cyclists need to be removed and replaced with an underpass or overpass.

Yellowhead Trail. Grade separated and built to freeway standards. 120 km/h (130 outside of Edmonton). Electronic management system.

Whitemud Drive. 120 km/h (except through river valley, 90 km/h is used, and west of Anthony Henday, where 130 is used). Electronic management system. Extensions to Acheson via highway 60. Interchange with Anthony Henday in the west is upgraded to a stack interchange. Railway underpass on the ramps with Gateway Boulevard.

Anthony Henday Drive. 120 km/h. Electronic management system. Completion of the NE ring road. Ellerslie Road has access to Anthony Henday. 111 St also fully accessible from Gateway Boulevard. 91 St interchange upgraded to full cloverstack or stack. Terwillegar Drive upgraded to stack or cloverstack. 97 St interchange upgraded to cloverleaf. St Albert Trail interchange upgraded to cloverstack. Upgraded to 3 lanes minimum all the way around.

Sherwood Park Freeway. 100 km/h. Electronic management system. Interchange with Anthony Henday changed to stack. 71 and 73 St intersections closed.

Terwillegar Drive. 120 km/h, 130 south of Anthony Henday. Electronic Management System. Grade separated and built to freeway standards. Extended south to bypass Leduc to the west and south, to provide a bypass for Alberta Highway 2A.

Ray Gibbon Drive. Upgraded to freeway standards. 130 km/h. Electronic management system. Interchange with Anthony Henday upgraded to stack.

St Albert East Bypass. 70 km/h. 4 lane divided arterial with cloverstack at Ray Gibbon Drive and diamond at Sturgeon Rd, cloverleaf at Anthony Henday Drive. Signalized intersection at Valour Ave and Bellrose Drive using the continuous flow style with bicycle and pedestrian underpasses (the continuous flow is a pretty clever way of increasing capacity, but is not suitable for the dense intersections like in Downtown and Strathcona. Bicycles and pedestrians should be grade separated in all but the most exceptional cases, in which case full signal separation is essential). It goes around St Albert well to the east, linking with HWY 2 at township road 544, and at Anthony Henday Drive at 127 St. Electronic management system.

170 St. 70 km/h. 6 lane divided arterial with diverging diamond interchanges at Yellowhead and Whitemud. Underpass under Mayfield Rd and Stony Plain Rd. Underpass at 87 Ave, with diamond interchange. 95 Ave/170 St gets a continuous flow intersection. Remaining side accesses, driveways and minor side roads are closed off. Electronic management system.

St Albert Trail/Groat Rd. 4-6 lane divided arterial. Trumpet interchange with Anthony Henday Drive. 70 km/h. Electronic management system. Intersection with Campbell Rd/156 St closed, in favour of a west extension of 153 Ave and traffic using 137 Ave. 137 St/St Albert Trail gets a diamond interchange. Yellowhead Trail/St Albert Trail interchange becomes a diverging diamond interchange or gets a pair of turbo roundabouts (with bicycle overpasses). 118 Ave and 111 Ave intersections become standard shape signalized intersection looking like this: Inner Ring Road Groningen.

University Ave between Groat Rd and 114 St. 50 km/h. LRT gets an underpass if possible under University Ave. Right turn onto 114 St converted into a protected prohibited function. Intersection converted to Dutch standard traffic light controlled intersection. Median added between the two directions. Roundabout at University Ave and 87 Ave converted into a regular roundabout, with a spiral lane pattern, a bypass lane for Groat Rd EB traffic to continue without interaction with motor traffic, with a light controlled pedestrian and bicycle crossing and low waiting times. Dedicated left turn lane for WB University Ave traffic onto SB Saskatchewan Drive, right turn from WB to SB with tighter corner radius and median enforcing the turn lane, plus a light controlled pedestrian and bicycle crossing. 117 St access closed to motor traffic, light controlled pedestrian and bicycle crossing. 119 St access closed. Electronic management system.

91 St. 100 km/h between Anthony Henday and Whitemud Drive, 70 between Whitemud and 63 Ave. Diamond interchanges built at 23 Ave and 34 Ave, flyunder for 28 Ave and 39 Ave. Cloverleaf completed interchange at Anthony Henday Drive, Diverging Diamond interchange or turbo roundabout with bicycle overpasses at Whitemud Drive. Railway underpass just south of 63 Ave. Turbo Roundabout installed at 63 Ave and 91 St, with bicycle underpass under 63 Ave. Electronic management system. Continuous flow intersection installed at 51 Ave. Other side accesses moved onto service roads. Underpass under intersection for cyclists crossing both 51 Ave and 91 St. May get 6 lanes.

Gateway Boulevard/Calgary Trail. 130 km/h south of Ellerslie Road, 100 km/h south of 30 Ave, 70 km/h south of Whitemud Drive. Left two lanes divided from main part of roadway with median between Whitemud Drive and 30 Ave, local lanes limited to 50 km/h. Only local lanes have access at Solo Southpark and Gateway Boulevard and only local lanes have access at Wild Wings and Calgary Trail and traffic lights are removed with right in right outs at 31 Ave and 42 Ave. 34 Ave gets a grade separation from railway line, and only local lanes are allowed to turn left at 34 Ave. Electronic management system.

HWY 15. 130 km/h between township road 522 and 153 Ave, 100 km/h between 153 Ave Yellowhead Trail. New bypass around Fort Saskatchewan to the North, partially paralleling HWY 825. Electronic management system. Complete grade separation and construction to freeway standards except at Yellowhead Trail, where an at grade junction is used. No interchange with 50 St and Manning, both roads continue as separate south to northeast and southwest to northwest roads, not intersecting diamonds at 153 Ave and 137 Ave interchanges, and grade separation in the rural northeast. Y interchange at existing highway 15 join up point. Yellowhead trail gets a diverging diamond interchange with Yellowhead as freeflow. Cloverstack at Anthony Henday. Flyovers at 167 Ave, 144 Ave and Hermitage Rd, with remaining accesses either right in right outs or simply closed.

114 St beginning at University Ave/113 St/61 Ave/63 Ave/Argyll Road. 50 km/h. Divided 4 lane road all the way. Electronic management system. New roundabout at Belgravia Rd, 60 Ave and 111 St with bicycle and pedestrian light controlled crossings and completely separate paths. 65 Ave becomes transit only and the turn lanes on 113 St become bus only, and get completely separate light stages, also for cyclists and pedestrians coming on their own paths to cross 113 St. 109 St intersection with 61 Ave gets turned into a simpler four way intersection, the south arm only open to bicycles, pedestrians and buses. 104 St/Gateway boulevard/63 Ave each get new separate traffic lights for turning traffic, as does 99 St/63 Ave. 75 St and Argyll Rd intersection could either become a pair of T intersections or one diverging diamond interchange with 75 St being freeflow. 83 St and Argyll Rd gets a T junction treatment. Underpass at 76 Ave.

75 St. 70 km/h (100 km/h between 98 Ave and Fort Rd. Electronic management system. Divided 4-6 lane road. New diverging diamond or turbo roundabout interchange at Whitemud Drive and Yellowhead Trail. New ramps for the partial diamond at 106 Ave interchange. Flyover for 101 Ave. New turbo roundabout with bicycle underpasses at 98 Ave (could be a diamond interchange, but it would need about 40-50 metres of extra right of way to do it. 75 St would in that case be the free flow road. Continuous flow intersection at Roper Road and possibly at Fort Road if space permits. Otherwise it will be a standard intersection with turns separated out. Closure of minor cross streets including 51 Ave. Grade separation of railway crossings. Diamond interchange at 90 Ave and a continuous flow intersection at Whyte Ave.

River Valley Rd/Rossdale Rd/97 Ave/98 Ave. 50-70 km/h. Divided 2-4 lane road. Electronic management system. Interchange improvements with Groat Rd. Minor side streets connected to Fortway Drive by a 30 km/h access road and links between side street and River Valley Rd removed. New 30 km/h access road links water treatment plant to 96 Ave and removes the link to Rossdale Rd. Simultaneous green and separating turn movements from through movements implemented at 97 Ave and Rossdale Rd/104 St. 98 Ave service road to Muttart Conservatory access to 98 Ave main arterial removed. Conners Rd gets new ramp towards 98 Ave EB. Service road 98 Ave gets a spur to the neighbourhood around the Bennet Centre. Traffic circle at 84 St and 98 Ave changed to a modern roundabout with spiral lane marking and raised ridges, and gets a light controlled set of pedestrian and bicycle crossings or underpasses for them. 79 St intersection is closed to motor traffic with a light controlled bicycle and pedestrian crossing.

Fox Drive/Belgravia Rd. 70 km/h. Turbo roundabout built at Fox Drive and 122 St with a bypass lane for right turns and the through movement of Belgravia Rd WB to Fox Drive WB. 142 St/Fox Drive becomes a right in right out, and the access to Fort Edmonton becomes a traditional T intersection, equipped with separate turn signals for the different directions. Access to Keillor Rd is created towards Fort Edmonton Park Rd, and removed from Fox Drive. Access to 116 St removed from Belgravia Rd. Electronic management system.

97 St/167 Ave/82 St. 120-50 km/h. Electronic management system. Organized as a 2+1 road coming from the North of Edmonton with a median between the two directions, alternating the extra lane direction. Anthony Henday Drive interchange upgraded to a full cloverleaf. Access to 176 Ave removed, and bike path running diagonally places in an underpass. Business access just south of 176 Ave removed, and connection to Elsinor Road installed. Speed limit drops to 70 km/h at 137 Ave. Double left turn onto 137 Ave from 97 St and again from 82 St to 137 Ave. Business access removed, their function taken over by nearby collector roads. Minor side street access closed for motor vehicles, pedestrians get a light controlled crossing. 137 Ave has a 70 km/h speed limit. On 82 St, speed limit is 50 km/h. minor side streets are closed for motor traffic. At 127 St, intersection gets simultaneous green and separate signal stages for turns, away from the through traffic movement. At Yellowhead Trail, street gets diverging diamond.

Ok, so with all that, why would I upgrade and sometimes build from scratch, such large roads? A primary reason is to build the bypasses that make the volumes for downgrading other roadways possible. Another primary one is safety. A number of these roads have bad safety records. The Dutch are planning to build a motorway through Vught because of it's bad safety record, and also because of traffic capacity reasons. The Yellowhead is a particularly dangerous route on the parts that isn't up to freeway standards yet. And the freeways we do have possess capacity issues characteristic of most other freeways in urban areas. Germany saw great results when the electronic management system was applied to their roads. And when you factor in the dramatic reduction in conflict points, using several roundabouts, diverging diamonds and continuous flow intersections, traffic lights controlling which direction goes when, and not allowing conflicts, it becomes even safer. Several railway crossings would be grade separated, further reducing the impact of trains, and permitting more freight and potentially passenger traffic on those rails, and it makes it impossible to impact a freight train so long as you stay on the road.

I also needed to provide alternate routes to important places. I don't want through traffic using Whyte Ave. What would work as a bypass would be going around it on Argyll Rd and 61/63 Ave, plus 113/114 St. It needs to be a fast and high capacity route to work well for this though. Which is why 170 St in my plan would have so much grade separation and so few intersections, especially signalized ones. Many freeways also get higher speed limits, which reduces if there are changing conditions, and if there are changing conditions requiring a lower speed, the electronic boards display a lower limit. This is also to help encourage the use of the freeways instead of the local roads. The idea is to ignore the need for a lower speed limit based on changing conditions. An open freeway with almost no traffic allows for much higher flow and speeds than one with bumper to bumper traffic. Weather impacts is also reduced by having systems to tell drivers based on actual formulas (how many people can remember off the top of their heads the coefficient of friction on ice, let alone use that to calculate a safe speed?) when to slow down on these roads.

These roads also could be improved in relation to screening from local roads, cyclists and pedestrians, plus the nearby shops and residents. It adds new sound walls, dense trees and hedges, and makes the big road almost irrelevant. I also minimize the impact by minimizing any homes and businesses that will need to be demolished for this to go forward. Very little would need to be consumed to make this through road network a reality. Most of it would be near the Yellowhead, and the city wants to make it a freeway anyway. Same with Terwillegar Drive and Ray Gibbon Drive, even Manning Drive is going to get several interchanges.

It makes them suitable for the through road classification that Sustainable Safety demands. Let's make the plans to make them work.

Update


I didn't like some of the routing options I had. Especially the river valley route. I wished there was another route, but other routes that would fulfill the task of taking traffic from the other through roads to downtown didn't do the job without severe damage to the neighbourhoods that would occur by splitting them with a new arterial road. They had too many vital cross streets I couldn't close which I would have to do to make them good through roads. I would have to make it something like an elevated freeway, requiring vast amounts of property acquisition, possibly sparking another freeway revolt, or tunneling, which was a bit out of the desired price range and given the problems Boston had with digging a tunnel for a freeway, I didn't want to take the risks, especially the risk of fire and explosions and emissions in the tunnel. None of the options were ideal but I chose what I believed was the best routing I could get. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Misconceptions about cyclists

At lot of people oppose cycle infrastructure on grounds related to cyclist behavior or that they don't pay for roads. Let's debunk those now.

First, about the cyclists running through stop signs and not stopping completely at traffic lights, sometimes not obeying them at all. This is so easy to explain. Cyclists hate stop signs because it takes a huge amount of effort to recover from a full stop, while slowing to something maybe 15 km/h still lets them understand who goes first and whether it is safe to cross. Motorists also go through stop signs, mainly because they are also just as capable for the vast majority of stop signs to just yield instead. And many stop signs really should be changed to yield signs or roundabouts. Not stopping at traffic lights can be explained by that cyclists often don't have confidence that the waiting times will be reasonable, and stopping again for any reason zaps your energy, Sometimes if there isn't cross traffic, then riding ahead of traffic parallel with you that is not moving can even be safer than following the traffic lights.

People often claim that cyclists should be licensed/taxed/registered, or a combination, or all of the above. First, why would you do any of this? People don't need to be a licensed pedestrian to get a jaywalking fine, one of the few offences specifically related to traffic operations that pedestrians are capable of committing. So why should a cyclist need to be licensed to do this? And what about the fact that many children ride bicycles? Are you suggesting that they need to be licensed/taxed/registered? That doesn't make sense. First, children don't usually have that much money of their own, so even a nominal amount of $25 would be a considerable expense for a 7 year old. What good would it do anyway? Dutch cyclists aren't licensed, neither are E bike riders, mopeds and scooters are though. And their system works well. Don't see any reason why this wouldn't work? And in fact, many cities that have tried to license cyclists have failed, due to poor compliance, the expense of the licensing compared with the revenue, and the lack of improvement of enforcing laws for cyclists. I believe that you will not be able to enforce a law well unless natural reasons for obeying it already exist. You don't murder people because it would be very inconvenient and messy most of the time. Also because it would be a very high profile crime with a large punishment.

The taxed argument also doesn't make sense. Where something often called a road tax does exist, it is charged for either the damage caused to the road, or the damage to the environment. This is why many electric cars don't pay road tax. A bicycle does nothing to the state of the road/path itself, weather like rain and snow causes more. Charging them for either would be pointless. And besides, the cost of actually building the cycle paths is cheaper than building the roads we have today. By that I mean for equal capacity you could have a pair of 3 metre wide roadway lanes, a 1 metre verge between them, and a 3.5 metre wide bike path and 1.5 metre wide verge between path and roadway, plus a 2 metre sidewalk, and that would be cheaper than building a regular four lane divided arterial.

Plus a lot of the taxes you do pay in relation to bicycles goes towards ineffective cycle routes or actions related to them. Paying for helmet promotion, paying for bike lanes not wide enough and not safe enough, etc. Lets assume that we could either have 9990 vpd plus 10 cyclists per day on a road with no cycle tracks or 6500 vpd plus 3500 cyclists per day on a road with cycle tracks, well the smaller cost of building the cycle tracks compared with a roadway lane, and the savings elsewhere (healthcare services treating disease for example), means that it makes more logical sense to build the cycle tracks. And cyclists just like drivers for the most part do have a professional job, which means income tax for the province and federal government, some of which does go towards building transport infrastructure, but almost never does it go towards cycle infrastructure, and many people who cycle, along with many who drive, both own houses and other property, which goes towards property taxes. And for the amount of money cyclists pay, assuming they didn't take public transport or drive, and didn't own a car, they are actually being cheated out of money that should rightfully be going towards bike lanes, cycle tracks and 30 km/h zones.

Onto some other arguments in relation to how cyclists behave.

That they ride on the sidewalk. Duh. Of course they do. What's the alternative? Riding on a 4 lane arterial or even a busy collector lane doesn't feel safe does it? Why don't you compare the two options and come back if you are still unsure. Every location where a high enough quality cycle track is built, or a high enough quality mixed road is built, cyclists don't use the sidewalk because it's more convenient to ride on the road or cycle path. To the Dutch, if they ride bikes on the sidewalk, it is a sign of a massive failure on the part of road managers to provide safe, subjectively safe in this case, cycling space.

That they run down pedestrians, especially children, the elderly and disabled. Again, this is part misconception, and bad design of the road. Shared use paths don't work. The Dutch do sometimes have cycle paths without a sidewalk, but only where pedestrians are insignificant, rarely present at all. And sometimes they are forced into conflict in other ways. When cyclists are forced in some way, by snow not being cleared for the road but is clear for the sidewalk is an example, they have to conflict with pedestrians. And even when they do, the vast majority of cyclists don't want to hurt other people. Don't make people guilty by association. Just because Hitler was Austrian doesn't mean you should deport Austrian people from Canada. Some associations with results makes sense, for example saying that all KKK members are racists, which makes sense, given the entire goal of the KKK.

I walk, drive, take buses and of course, ride bicycles. And I do what I can to prevent collisions, and overtake pedestrians on pathways by using the other side of the path if I can. Drivers do too. When was the last time you heard a driver yell out "Today would be an awesome day to run over some pedestrians!"? If you live in a functioning society, you haven't heard that. If you interview and get to know my uncle who often cycles, you'll find that he is just as good of a guy as any other ordinary person. Would the fact that he rides his bike a lot make a difference to you? Does the action of a minority justify denying the majority safe and reasonable speed travel? A minority of car drivers blow through school zones at 120 km/h, a speed only suitable for divided highways and freeways both well away from schools. So you you think that justifies making drivers feel and be acted upon as if they are collectively responsible for that driver who blew through the school zone?

A lot of people tend to apply these mainly to those cyclists wearing spandex/lycra and using a bike with dropped handlebar and a hunched over riding position, or those wearing the high viz, bright helmet and a hybrid bicycle. They probably wouldn't associate it with a little kid in a bike trailer would they? Would you try to impose these rules on the cyclists in this picture. The objection most people might have with that picture is the lack of helmets, but aside from that, would any of your demands before make sense? And how much of an impact, no pun intended, would helmets make now on the cyclists in that picture? Someone did yell at me to F off the road, and I think that he or she, I can't remember, was angry mainly because I was in the middle of a lane, too narrow to overtake within the same lane. It takes guts to cycle under those conditions with 5 cars behind you. Especially at my age. If a car driver said to do that to a pedestrian who pressed the button to cross the street at a traffic light, would others accept that? Probably not. Bravery is not the act of yelling towards a much more vulnerable person, it's standing up or doing something despite the danger. We call soldiers brave for infiltrating an enemy camp full of guards waiting to kill you, we don't call them brave for the times when they sit by the TV eating food. If you are still angry after all this, please, do yourself a favour. Go to the nearest anger management program and use a foam punching bag as your scapegoat, not cyclists.

Shared use paths

The Dutch believe it or not, have bicycle paths that expect people to walk and ride bicycles on. But there are four major reasons why this works there and not here.

First, if this is the case, hardly any pedestrians are ever expected on the pathway. Second, the path is built to a higher standard than ours are, often 3.2-4 metres in width, not 2.5-3 metres wide (bidirectional). Third, they do intersections in a far better way than we do, where ours have crossings and side street designed for pedestrians, not cyclists, their is the opposite, it is intended for cyclists. At traffic lights they do have separation because pedestrians are calculated to walk at a speed of perhaps 1 metre per second, cyclists are expected to ride about 4-6 metres per second. A 20 metre wide roadway needs 20 seconds to cross as a pedestrian at that speed (this is calculating the slowest pedestrian, like a 110 year old walking), and assuming 5.5 metres per second, 3.7 seconds to cross, and only the bicycle signal is turned on if the cyclist triggers the inductive loops or pushes the bicycle button, pedestrians only get their signal turned on when they press the button. And finally, pedestrians are expected to stick to one side of the pathway and look in the direction of traffic, in this case bicycles, and not impede cyclists. And note that this sort of path would look exactly the same as if it did have a sidewalk.

This means that at most but not all pathways in urban areas, pedestrians get a separate sidewalk, at least 1.8 metres wide, 2 metres standard, and wider ones are common, while the cyclists usually get a 2.5 metre wide path for a one way, 2 metres minimum, and 3.5-4 metre wide bidirectional paths, 3 metres minimum. In rural areas, the sidewalk is omitted, but pretty much nothing else changes. In some urban areas, the sidewalk is also omitted, but only when it is not expected that there would be any appreciable volume of pedestrians, even if it is only going to be that many on the weekends. This would happen for instance on 41 Ave, where the distances mean that almost nobody would ever want to walk, but riding a bike is still attractive.

By making this separation, it fulfills Sustainable Safety's demands that dangerous differences in mass, speed and or direction be eliminated. Bicycles and pedestrians are two very different masses and speeds and sometimes directions, so they need to be separated if there are either on a path or road in any significant numbers. Motorways/Freeways don't need separate bike paths because there are no cyclists who need to go there.

This crucial difference between shared use paths and cycle paths that just happen to not have a sidewalk for pedestrians as practiced in the Netherlands leads to more safety, more convenience and removes the often talked about and videoed conflict between cyclists mixing with pedestrians.

Helmets

Bike helmets are a contentious issue for many people. Lots of people want them to be worn by cyclists, lots of people don't want them. Let's break it down.

A bicycle helmet has a hard shell with a solid foam base underneath and straps to keep it on while riding. There are a lot of different types, shapes, colours, lots of childrens helmets have something Hello Kitty or Spiderman on it. There are a number for different types of helmets for different sports. Helmets used by racing cyclists tend to have a more streamlined shape, and no holes in the top for example.

With all these options, why don't the Dutch, and for that matter most of the world believe it not (the US is big, but 320 million compared with a 7.2 billion human population, that's not that big. China alone is larger than the population that ordinarily wears helmets), wear bike helmets? It's for the most part, mainly English countries, IE Canada, the US, UK, Oz and Kiwiland (New Zealand), that do most of the effort promoting helmet use among cyclists. A few other countries might be doing this to, maybe France, I don't know, I've never been to France, but if you do live in a country that is not English speaking and promotes helmets, or know of one that does, where there is a social pressure or pressure from a governmental department to wear a helmet, let the blog know in the comment section.

Here is why the Dutch don't wear helmets and never adopted it as a way of trying to reduce head injuries:

Because they remove the sources of danger to cyclists. Cars and motor vehicles, and also have began to remove anything and everything you could hit while riding a bike. The curbs for example on modern cycle paths are usually angled. Bollards, if they must exist, are usually striped, same with the rising triangles that Den Bosch and other cities use sometimes (https://youtu.be/Okb63flApDY?t=55s). Poles are kept several decimetres away from either side of the cycle track, and grass or hedges are used where possible as a separation from motorized traffic, which even though it's not the primary intent, it provides a softer landing pad if you fall over. A basic rule about collisions is that regardless of what you do afterward, fines, arrest, driver liability, helmets, they are all useless when a collision doesn't happen.

And even the collisions that do happen mostly do not affect heads. And even of those people, only some will have had the injury in a place where a helmet might be capable of preventing or minimizing damage. Top of the head? Covered. Chin? Not so much. And helmets can only do so much. If you were doored and it hit you on the side of the hear over your ear, and wore a helmet, and fell over into an active lane of traffic, and the traffic doesn't have the time to react, well, not a good outcome, and wearing a helmet probably wouldn't have made a difference. The helmets are also designed for an impact speed of about 12.5 km/h. That's a pretty low speed for a cyclist. By this I mean normal riding speed, not average speed, which can be slowed by traffic lights and stop signs and needing to yield and also turning. Most people can and often do ride at 25 km/h or so on a normal flat surface, even on an omafiets. That doesn't mean a helmet will only be half as effective, it is a quarter as effective because of the rule that doubling speed will quadruple kinetic energy. A crash at 30 km/h vs 60 km/h means the 60 km/h crash will be 4 times as worse.

I know what you might be thinking. Even if it might be useful for only a small number of people, it would still be worth it right? Well, what about the fact that when the helmet laws and helmet promotion occurs, the rate of cycling drops dramatically. Even in the Netherlands when some advocacy group thought that helmets would be worthwhile to put out a large PR campaign to promote them, the cycling rate went down because people felt like our roads are suddenly becoming so dangerous that we need helmets to protect ourselves, but also that if they are dangerous to our heads they are also dangerous to the rest of our bodies, and thus shouldn't cycle. Why do I have a suspicion that this PR campaign was funded by a car sales company? Even doctors in the Netherlands for the most part agree that helmets do more harm than good. The health benefits of cycling greatly decreases your chance of getting illness and greatly postpones death (we don't know how to extend life indefinitely), and especially moves the illness and death away from the road where crashes would make people fear cycling or walking.

The actual number of people who die by cycling in the US was in 2008, 716. Obviously it would be a good idea to get the number down. Almost all of those deaths would be prevented by having the type of roads the Dutch have. And getting the modal share up to something like 5-60% depending on the area couldn't hurt. After all, you can't have collisions with cars, if you don't have cars. And it would also be worth getting rid of street clutter too, perhaps by having a rule that in urban areas you can't park on a street unless it says otherwise, which you could hit. It is literally safer to cycle without a helmet than it is to walk down staircases by the way, and much safer than driving is by the way and that's deemed safe for the most part.

If we are going to be promoting helmets, shouldn't we also be fair and make car drivers and the passengers wear them, because head injuries do affect a measurable number of car crashes. Wouldn't the world be safer by promoting driving helmets in ordinary cars and trucks? After all, the Formula 1 racers do it so why not the ordinary motorist and his/her passengers (this is satire, but is exactly what many people do when they associate the racing cyclists or cyclists on mountain trails or BMX with the people who just want to get from A to B in a relaxed way safely and at a good speed with as few stops as possible. On a more serious note, BMX and riding on dirt trails on hills is slower and involves more reasons to fall over and hit your head which can't be engineered out, what would mountain biking be without trees on the side or rocks on the ground, and I have a feeling like this is the kind of riding many studies point to to make the argument for bike helmets for all cyclists?).

And why are we wasting time and money on promoting helmets when we could instead be building the cycle tracks, sometimes bike lanes and 30 km/h low volume zones, plus the intersections that connect them, to remove the sources of danger that would cause the crash? For all the time we've been promoting helmets and wide curb lanes for cyclists, we've never actually made cycling any better. It's just as hostile to cycle as it was 30 years ago. John Forrester (vehicular cyclist advocate, opposes separate cycle paths) gets some of the blame, but so does campaigning for things that won't work. You can be hopeful about experiments, but if they turn out to be duds, we should stop it. Would Health Canada approve a drug if the experiments and trials didn't show any aid and did show detriments? Would anyone continue a failing experiment in any other context?

Helmets, especially laws obligating their use, creates an added level of complexity. Right now on Dec 15 it's fairly cold out, though if the ice and snow was cleared then I would be OK riding. But it is much harder to wear a hat that I would use to protect my face (if anyone knows how to stop corrective lenses, IE glasses, from fogging up if you cover your nose when riding a bike, or anything else for that matter, please let me know, and also if you know whether it would work under a bike helmet) if I have to use a helmet, which by the way I do. Those under 18 are prohibited from riding a bicycle unless they have a helmet on them. It's an extra expense, you can easily spend over $35 on a helmet, and it adds more complexity. I once forgot my helmet and was worried. Not that I was going to get hurt, but because I was worried about any police who might want to fine me. Same thing I feel about stop signs and the obligation to stop before turning right on red by the way.

Removing the source of danger would make it statistically safer. To give you an idea about how much that change is needed, which of the following would you volunteer for on the sole basis of which is less dangerous? Soldier in Afghanistan during the Canadian mission there, or a road user back home. Most people would think that the latter is better but apparently, the number of deaths each year is about 3000. Over the entire CAF mission to Afghanistan, 159 soliders died, since 2002. An average of 12.23 deaths per year. 27 of those weren't caused by an enemy. We consider that honourable (as we should), but pay very little attention to the enormous number of road fatalities back home. Every day on average 8.2 occur every single day by road death in Canada. Const Daniel Woodall's funeral and death was one of the most reported about in the year as just another example of where scary forms of death, gunshot, is considered more dangerous than the other things we have. Cars. And trucks too. A helmet makes no difference in reducing the number of collisions that happen.  I recommend watching this video, by the guy from Copenhaganize, Mikael Anderson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07o-TASvIxY.

We scare people by encouraging and especially requiring helmets to be worn when cycling. Removing that fear about riding without a helmet is going to take time, it needs changing of laws, it needs changing of policies, and especially, building safe roads and fietspads for cycling, but the most basic thing we can start with in this regard is removing the legal obligation if you do have laws in your community or government and repealing policies aimed at promoting cycling helmets, and especially not permitting policies by government organizations like the health department, cycling guides put out by cities and towns, and when governments make artists renderings or are picking photos to use when showing cyclists, show those without helmets. It makes a huge difference. It is beginning to go away in some areas, when I visited Vancouver this year (I really wished I bikes around, but parents ever fearful of strangers and traffic, wouldn't let me go when I was feeling fine and I got sick on the days when my parents were ready to ride with me), and took a look at Burrard St and Cornwall Avenue, and I saw with my own eyes the closest North America or any place outside of Central/Northern Europe a protected intersection with very nearly all the details right. A minor issue with where a single stopping bar was placed and the lack of a corner refuge curbed island in one corner, but it felt genuinely safe to walk around, I didn't need to check for cars, as they were held by a red signal and it was obeyed, cyclists and separated in space, with marked crossings for pedestrians. And a good sign was that at least something like 20% of people were without helmets, maybe over 50%, and the police weren't too worried. They have a helmet law affecting adults and children too. Good progress, let's keep it up around the world!