Monday, 16 November 2015

Bus stop bypasses

I've mentioned a couple times before about bus stop bypasses, but I haven't defined them. Simply put, it is a bus stop which has a cycle track between the bus stop waiting island and the sidewalk, or if there is no sidewalk, where there is a waiting island between the cycle track and the area where buses go.

There are many examples, of course in the Netherlands, but also in the UK, a few exist, like on London's newer cycle superhighways, in Copenhagen, Germany, even Belgium, and Vancouver. Not all of them are equal, which speaks to how easy they are to make fit in a street, but it also means that there is opportunity for screwing up.

Lets see an example which are good other places. London: https://youtu.be/jAuPfiyv4S8?t=139, Copenhagen, https://www.bicyclenetwork.com.au/media/vanilla_content/images/copenhagen%20bikes%20behind%20bus%20stopw.jpg, Germany, https://aseasyasridingabike.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/screen-shot-2014-04-30-at-22-45-09.png, Belgium, http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/sites/cycling-embassy.org.uk/files/styles/main_left_panel_wide/public/photos/Screen%20Shot%202014-07-09%20at%2020.23.01.png?itok=cG7_kpds, Vancouver: https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.2724666,-123.1472786,3a,43y,123.74h,88.54t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1szwuB4bDAO-oE28jfvUJqCA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en, and the Netherlands: https://www.google.ca/maps/@52.0942771,5.1145655,3a,75y,240.72h,75.38t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sh1DuUH8yBrKaXpv1AT97ew!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en.

They are becoming more and more popular, many installations are reasonably good replicas, but still may lack a couple details. The key features of a bus stop bypass are:


  1. Ubiquitous nature. This means that they are features you see at all bus stops where there is a cycle track or cycle lane, or if the volumes of the buses exceeds one every 7.5 minutes during peak times, if there are articulated or double decker buses, or exceeds 30 km/h in speed. 
  2. A waiting island between cycle track and roadway. This does not have to be that wide, even 80 cm will do, but preferably 2 metres is the minimum and 3.5 metres is the standard. Wider ones should be considered when there is a high volume of bus passengers. It must be a concrete curb, not a painted island. 
  3. Sufficient width of cycle track (I also include the times when in the non built up areas, you do mix cyclists and pedestrians). This means 2 metres minimum for a one way, this also is the standard width if the facility leading into the cycle track is a cycle lane and quickly after the bus stop bypass you revert back to cycle lane again. 2.5 metres is the standard with for a one way though. 3 metres is the minimum for a bidirectional cycle track, 3.5 metres is standard on a secondary route and 4 metres is the standard for primary routes and being near high traffic locations, like in city centres, near schools, etc. 
  4. A safe pedestrian crossing of the cycle track to the sidewalk and an accessible bus stop. This means a raised stop island, up to 30 cm off the asphalt/gutter, minimum 20 cm. This really reduces the step up. Combined with low floor buses, and you barely have to think about the phrase "Mind the Gap". Make sure the ramp is no more than 1 in 12 though. Tactile paving, both on the edge of the bus stop towards the road/bus lane, in the blister pattern, directional pattern to guide you from the accessible crossing to the edge of the stop. If the crossing of the cycle track is not flush, then it needs to have a ramp for this purpose, or a slight raise in the cycle track height, or both. And if there are other amenities, like a shelter, or a display of the waiting times, then the shelter must have the dimensions to allow for accessibility, and there needs to be a button on the departure board to automatically audibly tell a blind person of the same information. The crossing if pedestrian volumes are high, or near something where pedestrian priority is important, like near a school or retirement home or hospital, then mark the crossing with zebra stripes. It is the standard for mid block crossings. If there is not a need for pedestrians to have priority, leave it unmarked, making it just like if a pedestrian crossed the road midblock not at an official crossing. 
A few other details are important, like ensuring that there are splay curbs next to the cycle track, with the bottom of the curb flush with the cycle track. This isn't optional. Providing amenities like departure board, shelters, bike parking, seating, lighting, timetable information and even trash cans, but those are on a stop by stop basis, not vital to the function of the cycle track.

Note that if there is a ramp for cyclists, it must not be designed to slow cyclists down. A design speed of 40 km/h is sufficient. The goal is to provide an accessible crossing, not traffic calming. Also the bend out must not be intended to slow cyclists down either. You should be able to cycle at 40 km/h past the stop. 

There are very occasionally times when there is genuinely not enough space for even an 80 cm wide verge between cycle track and roadway. If that is the case, then there should be whatever space you can provide, to improve the subjective safety of riding past on a bike, a zebra crossing extending the whole length of the stop between where the doors are, and a yield to pedestrians sign. The cycle track should be level with the sidewalk. Designed a bit like this: http://www.cycling-embassy.org.uk/sites/cycling-embassy.org.uk/files/dictionary/bottom-bus-stopped.jpg, but only use it if you do not have that hunk of space to the right of the bus which could have been used for an island. I expect these to be, if correctly implemented, so rare that you need specific signs to warn you about this. 

People might have a bit of a getting used to period, but cyclists and pedestrians are very able to negotiate between themselves. Sometimes at the extremely busy stops, so busy that it is likely that pedestrians might jostle around enough to make someone fall onto the cycle track, then a railing can be built. This should only happen in town centres next to LRT stations, downtown, the UofA and maybe a few other locations. 

Edmonton is actually planning a couple new bus stop bypasses. It is under the 102 Ave bike route plan, which includes protected bike lanes. It is a good idea, but a bit of a problem in practice, but this is mainly down to width. You can review the cross section here: http://www.edmonton.ca/transportation/RoadsTraffic/102%20Avenue%20-%20136%20St%20to%20124%20st%20Map.pdf, but I created streetmix file to show what it could be: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/61/cross-section-g-102-ave-bike-route-at-124-st. It includes a wider cycle track, car lanes more likely to encourage obeying the speed limit and making sense for the urban environment and giving car parking only what they need.

I created an interpretation of what this could look like at a basic end of line stop. It is on a collector road, it would have a speed limit of 40 km/h, it has a flagpole and a small screen showing when the next bus arrives, and a 2 metre wide cycle path.

It is good to see designs like this coming into play in Edmonton, and elsewhere. Keeping the huge difference in mass and speed of buses and bicycles apart is a good thing for everyone to know. Are you writing this down vehicular cycling evangelists? 

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