Sunday, 28 February 2016

Roadworks

Preserving cycle routes during roadworks is essential. If you fail to do this then it means that those who have no other ways to get by will stop cycling, it makes cycling more dangerous or at least a lot longer of a journey, and it just prioritizes cars.

An example of how this can be true is last year when the city widened James Mowatt Trail from 2 lanes plus turning lanes to 4 lanes plus turning lanes. Part of the project included reconstructing the shared use path on the south side of the roadway and building a new pathway on the missing link to the east of the pond paralleling the road. I disagree with the whole notion of needing a widened road like this. The city never asked anyone around here about their opinions. I have a feeling like the justification for that is that it was planned to happen in the 1990s when the area was being zoned for development, but A I wasn't around in the 1990s, as in I wasn't born then, B I didn't have the ability to look up this stuff when I moved here, do you seriously expect a toddler to understand road planning? C I can't move away from here, and why should I have to do that just because I disagree with the road widening and D, road design standards and best practice change. In the 20 years since the original zoning and building plans for Heritage Valley, we could have easily transformed Edmonton from motor dominated to cycling and walking dominated, because the Dutch also made that transformation in 20 years, probably less.

But this post isn't about the topic of widening roads, it's about what happens when we do have roadworks. Canada is known for 4 seasons, almost winter, winter, potholes and roadworks. It's not literally true of course, I've never seen a polar bear in my life, but the roadworks happening so much is true. When the city widened James Mowatt, they did build a 3 metre wide shared use pathway on the west side, but they didn't do that until the road itself was built. There was nowhere else safe to ride, so why would you put that off until later? Motor traffic had been dealing for more than 10 years with 2 lanes, but there was no place to ride a bicycle at all in a safe way, so that should be the first priority. And they also closed off a shared use pathway coming up from James Mowatt Trail south of Rutherford Road, but failed to provide anywhere else to ride? All it would have taken was a bit of rubber mats, some temporary bicycle signals and some temporary asphalt to create a temporary path, so why was this not done?

The only option was to ride on the road or to ride on the sidewalk. Nobody wants to ride on the roadway, with 60 km/h traffic and 20 thousand cars per day. The sidewalk was the only option left but nobody added some rubber mats to widen it out enough to be suitable, nobody signed it as a shared path, nobody added signs indicating where else to ride? This is just bad work, and it cannot continue in any city that claims to be good for cycling. 500 km of cycle routes in Edmonton may make it nice to ride in the river valley for recreation but it doesn't give us a third of people riding bicycles everyday, and limiting the places they can ride to an even poorer selection doesn't help.

I know that it was a few hundred metres, but even a few metres of high stress route can be enough to put someone completely off cycling. If this was my main route everyday, it very well may have done that. It happens anywhere else that this kind of "detour" happens. Was it seriously going to affect the project schedule, budget or the convenience of drivers to put even a small detour like this with bicycle signals, some rubber mats, some painted yellow lines and elephants feet markings and a couple detour signs for cyclists here?

I want you to go and take a look at this blog post :http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/08/four-more-examples-of-how-to-preserve.html. It shows good examples of how to make cycling safe and convenient, even when we rebuild roads or cycle paths.

And finally, why aren't we doing this kind of path construction everywhere? We understand somehow that cycling next to 60 km/h arterial traffic is dangerous and scary, so why don't we have a bicycle path here:https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.4999293,-113.4952689,3a,75y,260.42h,74.48t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1sZ-tKliW203A4enKMhlPHlg!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo0.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DZ-tKliW203A4enKMhlPHlg%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D345.09052%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en? It is just as intimidating to ride a bicycle here, so why is there not even a 3 metre wide shared use path let alone a 4 metre wide cycle path and separate sidewalk? Is there too little space? No, there are multiple lanes for motor vehicles. Is it too inconvenient to motor traffic? Why should that even matter here, there is literally no place that is safe to ride a bicycle on 63 Ave, but even if only a single lane was taken from motor traffic there would still be only somewhat less easy driving, and it would still be a safe thing to do.

We also seem to be only able to have these paths rebuilt, or even a narrow bicycle lane when the city is doing a reconstructed route anyway. 107 Ave is planned to be widened and have a roundabout taken out in a few years time, and they seem to be able to put a cycle path in there, yet it only costs a tiny fraction of the transportation budget to build these paths that make it possible to even have medium stress cycling let alone low stress if they were to do this retrofitting without the entire roadway being rebuilt.

Our roadway rebuilding policies must change if we are to be able to claim that we are a cycle friendly city. Why Edmonton do we not do these simple changes to minor policies?

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Pragmatism and why looking to Copenhagen is flawed

I suggest reading this blog post first: http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2014/08/pragmatism-when-campaigners-and.html

Many people often think that implementing a cycle culture requires pragmatism, and thus would require downgrading our goal from somewhere like the best Dutch examples to Copenhagen. While it's true that we must be pragmatic, this in no way excuses a reduction in our goals. The same things that let the Dutch build their cycle network are present elsewhere on this Earth. Space, non constant tornadoes, money, etc. We just have to decide that we want to build cycle paths. The moment that happens, then it can get going quickly.

What actually would happen if we downgrade to Copenhagen is that we will get what Copenhagen has, around 20% modal share and a lot of bicycles, and bicycles being as an accepted form of transport. What we will not have however is the even better safety of the best practice from the Netherlands, the efficiency of their system, making it convenient not only to ride as a slow rider but also as a fast rider on the separate paths and even less stressful. I mean while a mixing zone and two stage left turn is better than a vehicular left, it's killed 7 each year. Not very safe by my standards. Why not simultaneous green or a real protected intersection? We also miss out on a large portion of the population. Fewer children ride in Copenhagen. More Copenhageners are wearing helmets, a sign of decreasing subjective safety, and while 20% is by far more than Edmonton has, it's still not the 27% national average (rural area and distance included) and the 35-50%+ average most Dutch cities usually have. Rotterdam is one of the very few outliers, mainly due to the exceptional public transport system and wide roads for motor traffic in the city centre, and thus has only 20%.

So when should we be pragmatic? Well, whenever our ideal is not possible. When our ideal is not possible, then we should try to get it as close as possible. Just because a full cycle track might not be possible on a particular street, doesn't mean we should downgrade our entire plan to that of Copenhagen. If we can't get a 1.5 metre wide verge protecting a cycle track, then if 1.4 metres is possible, then use 1.4 metres. If we can't have a 4 metre wide cycle path, then have a 3.9 metre wide cycle path. There are some concrete minimums however which must not be reduced. If it is the case that we could not even have a concrete minimum for something, then the motor traffic must give, because they are inherently wasteful of the space, and must remain guests in our transport network. They are here to have chats, to play board games and have have some chips and pop, not eat all of the food in the pantry and refrigerator and drink a keg of wine.

Maintenance vehicles are sometimes required on an otherwise non vehicular path. But I don't think anyone wants to drive on an non maintained road, nor so they want to ride on a cycle path in the winter if there is snow on it, so these kind of vehicles must be there. They don't comprise much of a flow and they don't move very fast, so that isn't too much of a concern. Sometimes a few cars will enter a cycle path for whatever reason, but if this is a low enough figure and it's not a big problem, then bollards are the more dangerous actor. Too much traffic and it is preferable to have a small bollard in your way than a lot of massive cars. Sometimes on an otherwise cycle path it must be a fietsstraat because someone's driveway is on that cycle path, but so long as that car is slow enough and there aren't too many of them, then cycle traffic will by far be the dominant traffic flow, and still be a safe cycle route.

The final part to emphasize is that on the very few occasions we will not be able to get the ideal, it must never make it dangerous, unattractive or unsuitable for a small child. It must always be on a small scale if "compromise" is to be really a compromise and not just a normal part of the discussion. It must only be the last option we have. It should be treated like having to have a traffic light on an otherwise freeway road. And as many measures should be taken to minimize the effect of the compromise. For example if we have to build a narrower cycle path then more time should be given to cyclists at the traffic light to allow more cyclists to get through.

Compromise can be a great thing, like if people in the US actually get together and have a peaceful discussion on guns, but it can also be a terrible thing, like the idea to have a "compromise" with the First Nations tribes here about "how to let the dominion government have tribal land". Let's make sure we never use compromise poorly to the detriment of those who are less able and less protected, or anyone else for that matter.

Unravelled bicycle (and walking) routes

Something I haven't talked about much before are unravelled cycle (and implicately walking) routes. These are routes that do not parallel a road at all, or very little paralleling. These are the best routes that cycling and walking can have if well designed, especially in terms of social safety, and they are often the most well used routes that are in the Netherlands. Houten is full of them, literally built so that you never have to cycle even within the same road right of way as cars. Let's see how they work.

Edmonton has a few pathways and walkways that do not parallel a road (by that I mean that the cycle/walkway is far away from the road, often without even being able to see the main roadway, or having a very large obstacle, like a canal, and the intersections are completely separate). I know of a few in Heritage Valley, and Mill Woods as loads of these. They are quite nice, but not idealized for cycling and walking. The intersections often are not designed to the best that we can make them, sometimes they take slight detours onto public roads without a safe link between them, they are often narrower, often too narrow, and there is almost never separation between pedestrians and cyclists.

A good pathway should have at least a 2 metre wide sidewalk and a 3 metre minimum cycle path (automatically bidirectional) for secondary routes, as wide as it needs to be as a standard, and for most primary routes, 4 metres, minimum 3.5 for main routes. There should ideally be verges between sidewalk and cycle path, so that they have even safer and more pleasant routes. Make sure that there is good lighting. Solitaire paths can often feel socially dangerous, Almere shows that there can be problems if this isn't properly addressed. Houses should preferably front the path. Some unravelled routes can be fietsstraaten. I will address fietsstraaten in a different blog post, but go look up BicycleDutch, Aviewfromthecyclepath or the AlternativeDFT for a good explanation.

Intersections can be tricky with these unravelled routes because you want the main route for cyclists to have priority when possible. This can be a safe thing given good design. A 30 km/h zone preferably, good sightlines, something to make cars yield and control their speeds naturally, and clear visual priority. This can work given the right volumes, but it's not always possible. You can tack on this route to a nearby traffic light or roundabout, but doing this is less preferable if cyclists can have priority via other means. A good traffic light controlled intersection will look like the one in this video. Grade separation is another option, but requires a number of elements to work safely. The underpass or overpass must be wide, well lit, if an overpass shielded from the wind, not be too steep, ideally the cars would do all the going up and down part, must allow for cycling at high speed, especially on the ramp down, and must be socially safe. Good examples and the exact specifications can be found here.

But what are some of the benefits of unravelled routes? They are more pleasant. Even on a separated path, it's not especially pleasant to be riding or walking next to a main arterial road due to the noise and smell. If the separation is too small, too weak and/or the motor vehicles too big, then it can still feel intimidating. The paths next to the main roads are important because many of the destinations are next to them, the most direct way to get somewhere tends to be on those roads or they may feel more socially safe, but the ability to not use these roads and get a nice dose of car fumes or a bunch of road noise in your ears is also very important. The fact that these unravelled routes feel like a car is less likely to hit a cyclist shows itself in that Johnny Bright has most of its cycling traffic coming from these separated paths.

Another major advantage is that roundabouts and traffic lights, both things that had to be developed due to the existence of motor traffic, don't need to be present on most unravelled routes because there are a lot fewer cars. This makes your journeys more efficient. And because motor vehicles aren't using it, it means that the unravelled routes can go within neighbourhoods safely and in a way that is pleasant for residents. You never hear calls to put a main 60 km/h arterial road in the middle of Rutherford, and you don't hear calls to put a freeway through downtown, but people are often glad to have cycle paths in the river valley and have a nice path to ride in through the middle of Rutherford. Your route can be closer to home too by having it go within neighbourhoods.

Edmonton already has a number of routes where the cycle route can be completely unravelled from motor traffic. Mill Woods as I mentioned is a good place to look for them. This is an example. It needs to be improved, but the route it takes is pretty useful. It is more like a secondary path, so it might only be 3-3.5 metres wide, and with a 2 metre wide separated sidewalk and better roadway crossings, then it would be a very good unravelled cycle route.

I recently shown you a completely unravelled route proposal in Rutherford last week, links here and here, and it shows another good example.

I found even more information about unravelled routes on the Aviewfromthecyclepath blog, links to his blog posts here

Friday, 26 February 2016

Efficient traffic lights for cyclists and pedestrians

Many people don't like traffic lights. I am among them. However they are someone required to have safe crossings. It is preferable to avoid them if you can, a roundabout with not too much volume on your arm means that even while yielding to the cars still isn't too bad, and you can often have non stop journeys anyway. An underpass and sometimes overpass can also be used in some places. And having your route to avoid the main routes for motor traffic means that very often you can avoid traffic lights, and in many cases even roundabouts. And cycling away from motor traffic is more pleasant anyway. But at some point in Edmonton and almost everywhere else there is at least some place where there simply must be a traffic light in your path. Let's see how to make them as efficient, convenient and safe as possible.

First, let's make the lights themselves easier to use. I propose that the lights be on the nearside. But in order to see the traffic lights when you are first in the queue means that the stopping line either must be set back, or eye level lights must be used. I prefer the latter as more stacking room exists for other cyclists. The lights can have a countdown timer on them, to let you know how short the wait will be. Inductive loops in the surface makes it so that you don't have to press a button, but even there, there will be a backup button just in case the loop doesn't detect you. The waiting time indicator should begin counting down to let you know that you have been detected. Having a set of inductive loops as far away from the crossing as possible so that once no other path can be chosen by bicycle, it will know that you intend to cross, and will thus inform the traffic controller that you wish to cross.

But of course if the light cycles are too long, the waiting times are insensible or otherwise they are too inconvenient, people won't care if there is a button to press or not. So getting the waiting times right is essential.

First, have detection for the motor traffic as well. This means that if no motor traffic is detected, then why would there be a need of waiting for traffic that doesn't exist? Already this greatly improves the light sequencing. Most lights in Edmonton have a fixed time basis, meaning that once programmed the light cycles cannot be changed. This is just dumb. Also, we should have separate signals and separate detection systems for the different directions of motor traffic. Maybe I am coming from a side road and want to go straight on, but from my left there is traffic that is going to make a left turn. If that is the only traffic that wants to cross, and neither would be crossing each other's paths, why not let them go at the same time?

Next, when possible, make it so that all of the movements that you could want to do on a bicycle that don't cross the paths of motor traffic aren't controlled by traffic lights. Many right turns don't cross motor traffic, so no need to wait. Same with T intersections. Same with signalized pedestrian crossings. There is only a need of controlling interactions between motor traffic and other types of traffic when other control options fail, so there is no need of signalizing a conflict between cycle and pedestrian.

Thirdly, let's use simultaneous green for most crossroad intersections, probably with the exception of where in the suburbs major arterial roads cross, and the design of the paths makes it so that there is no need of cycling on both sides of the roads. This makes it much easier to have a left turn, it can be done in one go, and even for straight through cyclists, it is more pleasant to be cycling when motor traffic isn't going, and having separate light phases is safer when well designed.

For crossings that do not involve all arms of the intersection needing to be crossed by cyclists, then often having a default green to cyclists makes it more convenient to them. Motor traffic itself must trigger their own green. More efficient that way.

For intersections that do not have default to green for cyclists, then the lights should all default to don't move or red. This makes it so that you don't need to worry about the amber light runners, and you don't need the amber or red light clearance interval at all if the lights for everyone are red when you arrive but nobody else has just before you. The green light can be given to you immediately.

Crossings should be on the desire lines as much as possible. For some reason the city of Edmonton often doesn't do this at LRT crossings. Why are pedestrian crossings often in need of going 3/4 of the way around rather than a direct path for paths coming from side roads? And this applies more generally. I can't figure out why, but Edmonton consistently makes the wheelchair ramps angled at around 45 degrees so that it almost feels like a scramble crossing for pedestrians except there is never a desire of having that in most places around the city. Why not have them parallel with the routes, rather than a funny 45 degree angle?

And finally, retime the signal programming. It's less tempting to want to cross on red if you know that you have 2 20 second green lights rather than 1 40 second green. I know it involves more yellow lights, but we must take actual behavior into account. We can also give cyclists twice as much green light time as motorists with simultaneous green, or actually whenever cyclists and motor vehicles both have their own independent traffic signals.


We have many ways of making traffic lights more convenient. Why do we so often fail to make cycle and pedestrian journeys just as efficient and safe as motor vehicle journeys?

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Rural Areas Part 2

I made a post before about this, but now I have more information. Rural areas remain among the most dangerous roads to drive on, with the notable exception of freeways. So making them safe is a crucial goal of mine.

First, let's identify Sustainable Safety. First, functionality. Roads are through roads, access roads or distributor roads. There are two main kinds of through roads: expressroutes, or what the Dutch call autowegen, limited to 100 km/h, in Canada that would mean a 2 lane highway with a shoulder, control of access, no access from 40 km/h roads in particular, grade separation to the greatest possible extent, a divide between the two directions if possible, roundabout control if grade separation is not possible if possible, and when not a divided roadway, having a painted buffer between the two directions, and freeways, limited to 130 km/h, with at least 3.7 metre wide lanes, a right shoulder, a left shoulder when possible, a divide between the two directions, a vertical barrier too when possible, 2 lanes per directions (except on interchange ramps), full control of access, no at grade crossings and no traffic lights or stop signs. Note that the limit can change if it's needed for safety.

(I boiled, I mean changed (GMM viewers know why this is funny) the rural access road limits for safety, 40 is a much more survivable speed in a crash with pedestrians or cyclists, and is equal to or less than the 50 km/h cap on T bone crashes, plus it is easier to come down from when crossing cycle paths or footways midblock or at crossings, and the sightline distances don't need to be as long)

Access roads are 40 km/h roads, with no traffic that doesn't need that route to get around. They have lower volumes, are not divided roads, have no centre line for the most part, either have dashed white lines on the edges of the road or no markings at all, and only provide the roads that you might use to get from a farm to a county highway, or are the main routes between very small communities. 40 km/h roads are also usually the more direct route between 2 communities, however it is traffic calmed to ensure that it does not become the through route. 40 km/h roads also are used to bypass villages and small towns.

And distributor roads are 70 km/h roads, with a centre line, usually a double dashed centre line, a dashed right edge line and sometimes a divide between the two directions. Intersections are where possible under roundabout control, otherwise by using traffic lights or yield/stop signs facing the minor road. Four way stops often get congested because the traffic from the right rule often can't even be observed, let alone encouraging the traffic to stop in the first place. A few 70 km/h roads have interchanges but that's pretty uncommon. 70 km/h roads also tend to preform the function of bypassing smaller cities and towns, if that job is not taken by a through 100-130 km/h road.

So that is functionality, and I covered some of the basics around homogeneity of traffic flows, but let's take a look at it in more detail.

In urban areas directional conflicts are slightly less of a problem because of the lower speed. In rural areas the speed is usually between 40 and 130 km/h, so it is not good to have directional conflicts. The most obvious directional conflict is the head on kind. This can be solved on some roads with a divide, a verge or vertical barrier. As long as there isn't too much of a need of overtaking, even on 2 lane roads this can work ok. The other main directional conflict is the side conflict, or T bone. Roundabouts work extremely well at preventing this crash. In fact it's nearly impossible to have a head on or T bone crash at a roundabout.

Speed differentials are a big different among the different kinds of motor powered vehicles in rural areas. Many agricultural vehicles can't go freeway speeds. Thus, they should be required to go no more than 40 km/h and use a 40 km/h local access road and not use a 60 km/h minimum speed limited freeway or autoweg. Mopeds too. They use either a low volume 40 km/h local access road or a cycle path designed for 50 (the limiters on mopeds should make this required). Whoever came up with the idea that you should be able to use the shoulder of a freeway to cycle on, I challenge you to do that very action. Cycle on the shoulder of a freeway, and come back and tell me how stressful and dangerous that felt. Shoulders are not suitable cycling facilities, and without a shadow of a doubt, not next to freeways or on autowegs. Not even on 70 km/h roads. Cycling is not allowed on these roads. They are always routed on a separate route or path. The Dutch don't even use the concept for 40 km/h access roads. 40 km/h roads usually either have a cycle path or are low enough in volume to mix safely. A few are 6 metres wide with 1.5 metre wide red asphalted stripes on the sides with a 3 metre wide bidirectional space for motor vehicles to use, but that is fairly uncommon.

Next we have predictability. This can be a challenge in rural areas. Let's make the identification of the roads in question easy.

Starting with freeways and expressways. We can use the European signs for expressway and motorway to fit our definitions. Freeway begin signs are also regulatory, indicating the minimum and maximum speed limits (60 km/h min, 100 on an expressway and 130 on a freeway), the categories of vehicles that are prohibited, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, farm vehicles and mopeds, that stopping, u turns and that reversing are all prohibited (why would you park on a freeway unless your car broke down?). Then we can make expressway classification predictable by always having a hard shoulder, 3.5 metre wide lanes, a green stripe between the 2 yellow ones on non divided expressways.

70 km/h roads are next. Let's make them predictable. Upon leaving the built up areas, you will see a sign like the one to the right, using the one with the red stripe :

This sign indicates clearly whether we are in a built up area or not. Having this sign also has the advantage that we don't need to have 70 km/h speed limit signs in areas of Edmonton that aren't yet developed. By law all areas within an urban type municipality defined by the corporate limits is where the 50 km/h road limit begins, aside from provincial highways where it would be 70. I also want to remove the law that makes designation of a road as being a provincial highway raises any urban limit to 70 and rural area to 100 km/h by default. It is a useless designation because it says nothing about the kind of road we are on, all we know is that it forms a part of a provincial network. 

OK, now that we know whether we are in the urban area or not, let's make the road identifiable from the design. It should be at least 6.4 metres wide, for 3.2 metre wide lanes each direction, and the outer 30-40 cm of the roadway should be divided from the rest of the roadway with a dashed white line. This provides optical narowing, and makes it a hallmark of rural roads with 70 km/h speed limits in conjunction with a centre line. It is perfectly legal to use the extra bit of the road to use, but you are psychologically discouraged from doing so. The centre line is the other hallmark of 70 km/h roads, and without it, it would be more like a 60 km/h road. A double dashed yellow line should be introduced as the new way to indicate an area in a rural area where it is legal to overtake in both directions where there is two way traffic. This makes it easier to see the double lines. 70 km/h roads where roundabouts nor traffic lights are used otherwise, have the right of way over side streets. 

On access roads, we can easily define this with having just a pair of dashed lines on either side of a road or no markings at all. This makes it easy to understand at a glance. There will also be a sign indicating the beginning of a 40 km/h zone. Having mostly unmarked uncontrolled intersections and raised intersections where possible, sometimes with measures to make only 1 direction of traffic able to flow at any one time, makes the 40 km/h low volume restrictions better enforced. 

Cyclists need separate paths in most rural roads. With the sole exceptions of 30 km/h low volume villages and low volume 40 km/h roads, it is not safe to allow mixing. Country back lanes are fine to cycle on, as they have low speeds and low volumes, but not even medium volume 40 roads. 

So how to design such paths? Well, usually they are bidirectional in rural areas, although one way cycle paths are better next to roads where there are more frequent side road conflicts. They must be a concrete minimum of 2 metres wide for a one way, 2.5 metres standard, and 3 metres minimum, 3.5-4 metres standard width bidirectional, same as in urban areas, separated from the road via a vertical barrier, verge or median. The more the traffic and the faster it flows, the more space is needed. This creates the comfort required. Also consider road noise and emissions in relation to how pleasant it is to cycle. 1.5 metres is the standard next to a medium to high volume 40 km/h road, any less and a vertical barrier is required. 6 metres is preferably next to 70 km/h roads and 10 metres or more is standard next to anything bigger, and noise and visual screening is definitely required near those. 

At side roads, if they are minor and the road the cycle path parallels also has the right of way over the side road, then the cycle path probably should too, unless the side road is a like a freeway ramp coming on or off the main expressway or freeway. If the main road doesn't have the right of way, then the cycle path probably shouldn't either. A median refuge, bending out the path at least 6 metres, preferably 10 or more, from the main road and clear yield signs and sharks teeth make it clear who yields and who doesn't. The colour and surface of the crossing should resemble that of the road it is crossing how it ordinarily is for them. The markings should indicate legal to cross without dismounting but you must yield. Thin parallel lines work to this effect. If the cycle path does have priority, then the crossing should be surfaced in red asphalt, have elephants feet markings, have no difference in elevation in the cycle path, be on a raised table against motorists preferably, and there should be a sharp bend in the road for motorists to control their speed if they cross the cycle path. 

Roundabouts should have a non annular cycle path and no priority for cyclists, like at other roundabouts in urban areas. Median refuges are essential here. 40 km/h roads can join up with roundabouts, but they should be the kind busy enough to have separate bicycle paths and white edge lines. Note that cyclists can only cross a single lane safely at a time. If they need to cross multiple lanes, like at a turbo roundabout, then it is not safe enough. Crossings of right turn bypass lanes can be acceptable but must have low volumes and low speeds and a median refuge between the right turn lane and thru/left turn lane. Turbo roundabouts should ideally not even be anywhere near a cycle route, but if they have to be near them, grade separation is practically required. 

Some traffic lights are likely to need to remain in urban areas. Cycle routes should preferably not even be located near there, or at least be routed in such a way to minimize interaction. Grade separation is usually even better. But sometimes it is not possible to avoid at grade crossings requiring a traffic light controlled crossing for cyclists. If this is the case, then simultaneous green is still an option, though I am not quite certain about how useful it is in rural areas. May very well be so, But if you don't use simultaneous green, then it should be designed like a protected intersection. Not quite like how Nick Falbo has it though. Larger, with separate traffic signal phasing for conflicting directions given the speed of the traffic, and also the volumes, and more space between the different kinds of traffic. More like this picture (David Hembrow): http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wB7tCSVlgQc/Uu4xyvc6uwI/AAAAAAAAQ-s/xWjTkbjz1jU/s1600/jct.jpg

Rural areas have very scary roads if you want to cycle along them, and the distances can be shorter than you think. Even 15 km is not too bad for cyclists. A velomobilist can feasibly commute 30 km one way in just 1 hours, a reasonable time to commute given good conditions. Beaumont town centre is just about 8 km from Ellerslie Road, where a major transit centre is planned to be built. Not too bad either. On a new unraveled route for cyclists assuming a direct route is taken, cycling between Downtown Leduc and the airport is a reasonable distance, about 6.5 km away. Leduc and Nisku are also not too far apart, the journey could be made by bicycle by at least some people. Spruce Grove and Stony Plain. I can find examples in a lot of places. Does anyone seriously believe that cycling on the roadway with 70 km/h traffic, or worse 125 km traffic on QE2 (normal speed of traffic not the speed limit) is a safe thing to do for themselves, let alone children, your grandparents, parent's with babies in a trailer? 

And rural areas have a very high casualty rate. These improvements make a much greater barrier between conflict points and dangerous differences in masses, speeds and/or directions, making it far safer. 

And many rural communities have lots of shortcutting traffic. Beaumont has all of the traffic going right through the town, making it a very busy road where it should be a much quieter town. An 70 km/h limited access bypass on either the east or west side of the town would greatly civilize the town. Leduc has a lot of traffic going through the city on Highway 2, an elevated freeway, and creates a barrier for the town. Having it go around the city makes it more pleasant. Same with Highway 39 through Leduc. It doesn't have any other way to go through the city onto the through roads directly. Morinville while it does have a Highway 2 bypass, it does have have a Highway 642 bypass making the centre of the town much busier than it should be. The 2.4 km diameter town is a small one, and practically everyone there could have a cycling journey that they could make on a daily basis that is pleasant to take. Three Hills has the Highway 583 running through it with over 4000 vehicles per day. That makes it a not very pleasant road to have in such a small town. I could never go out on my own when I was a smaller kid and visited there. In fact I was rarely even outside. All this despite a small community with everything very close by, a perfect place to be able to walk or cycle for any journey you may have had to do.

Rural areas have a lot to improve on. Rewrite the design manuals, create funding for these improvements, actually build the improvements and introduce legislation and pass regulations to the effect of this blog post. Many things can be done today, and even more within a year. It only took about 10 years for the Dutch to really civilize their streets, including rural roads. Why do ours remain crumbled asphalt "roads"? 

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

106 St/76 Ave

The city is beginning the process to rebuild 106 St and 76 Ave, both collector roads, as part of a neighbourhood reconstruction. Let's look at what we have, what the Dutch have as options for this kind of street and come up with a plan for these roads.

Also, know that there is a webpage dedicated to this project, though it claims to have a "discussion" page, except that the  "input" doesn't work.

First, which roads are we talking about? 76 Ave between Saskatchewan Drive and Gateway Boulevard, plus 106 St between Saskatchewan Drive and Whitemud Drive. They are in the grid based road system.

Both collectors are 50 km/h roads, usually around 5-10 thousand vehicles per day. They generally have parking on either side, some places have no parking, some have parking on one side. They also for the most part have bicycle lanes, though some areas have sharrows. They also have quite a number of schools nearby, meaning that pedestrian and cyclist volume is going to be higher there than average, and there is Southgate LRT station near 106 St and McKernan Belgravia Station on 76 Ave.

So what can we do to rebuild these streets to be even better? Let's look at Sustainable Safety to look at what we can do. Let's identify function of these roads first. They aren't roads for very fast traffic in very high volumes, so they aren't through roads. It isn't a place where access to homes and businesses is the primary goal, so it isn't really an access road. It does do the latter to an extent though, so it won't be perfectly aligned with the goals of Sustainable Safety, but we can come close. These roads have the function of distributor, linking minor access roads to through streets.

Now that we know that, we can then use it to understand what kind of road to build. Next, homogeneity of dangerous differences in masses, speeds and/or directions. We have thousands of motor vehicles passing at 50 km/h, and this also includes some trucks and buses, quite a few of them, so separate bicycle paths are needed, or at least wide cycle lanes. We don't have the room for a roundabout at 76 Ave/106 St, or at least not enough to have separate paths around it, so let's not use that. We may have the speeds and volumes to make Whitemud Drive and 106 St interchange into a roundabout, but I don't know for certain. Saskatchewan Drive and 76 ave and also Saskatchewan drive and 106 St is likely to have the volumes for roundabouts but possibly not space. It should be added if possible. Traffic lights with simultaneous green will be used when crossing major arteries that cannot be made into roundabouts. Pedestrians cannot share with cyclists on a shared use path, it will fail, because of the volumes but also because they are fundamentally different kinds of traffic with very different needs.

Making mistakes less likely and less damaging is needed next. Having cycle paths on these roads will help make sure that an errant driver is less likely to harm. It also means that dooring is less likely and on separate paths at least, if a car door does hit you then other moving motor traffic won't hit you. Having slow speeds at minor side roads means that everyone has more time to react and makes sure that any crash that does happen is going to be less damaging. If roundabouts could be added, then doing so means that a mistake is less likely to be damaging because of the angles of crashes and the speeds.

The roadway design must be of a design where you can predict what is going to happen. Of course Edmonton has no infrastructure rivaling that of Assen, so it isn't as predictable, but if such a redesign of our streets does happen on a citywide scale, then our street must be predictable by those standards. And also we need to know who is going to be where, when. Cyclists under this redesign would be expected to nearly always be on the cycle path or cycle lane, due to the attractive nature of well designed cycle paths/cycle lanes and the fact that being near motor traffic is unpleasant and for most of us, feels dangerous. Other things like having a gap between sidewalk (and also cycle path) and roadway means that you will be turning in a very obvious way before you will cross the path of motor vehicles, and people can predict your next move better. All things that seem so minor but they add up to make it very safe.

 And finally, we must consider how aware of their own actions, those of others and their ability to gauge what they should be doing people are on the streets. There are a number of schools here, and a playground or two, so we must be aware of children. Both roads are close to 109 St and Whyte Ave, and both have bars on them, and the phrase "capable of knowing what they're doing" and alcohol do not belong in the same sentence. Of course the idea is that nobody is to come here drunk, but if they do, at least the mistake shouldn't kill anyone. People also are fairly likely to be moving around at night, and thus fatigue is a more likely thing to encounter on these streets.

I also want to counter arguments that some make about parallel routes being better. This is why that can't happen in an effective way. There are still houses and destinations directly on the collector roads. This means that local access is REQUIRED by bicycle. Also, they provide direct and fast routes for bicycle. Also, these collectors should not be what you use if at all possible. The main arterial roads are what you should use.

A note on the latter point. Shortcutting is a major problem here, and residents during the traffic calming trial reported the traffic moving onto parallel local access roads. This can be addressed by calming those roads to in terms of speed, and also organizing them in some way to create no advantages by shortcutting, and in some cases making it impossible to shortcut. One way road systems (bicycles excepted) and a small bollard and 3 metre wide cycle only accesses can do wonders. It will put a bit of pressure on the main collectors, but not so much that cycle routes are bad, and once a complete cycle network allowing any and every route by bicycle to be safe and convenient, then people will naturally switch to at least some degree to it. Also something to keep in mind is the high numbers of minor side streets. By closing most of these off, limiting them to between 1 and 3 accesses per side per neighbourhood, preferably in an alternating way so as to create T-intersections, it reduces conflict points. Note that this should not apply to cyclists.

Note that cycle lanes here will be improved. They will be using red asphalt, the road surface itself will be rebuilt, so as to provide a smooth surface. The cycle lanes continue through intersections, keeping the red colour and dashed lines on either side of the lane. They will also usually be made wider than today, if they are even kept at all.

So lets take a look at some potential cross sections.

First, 106 St between 51 Ave and Whitemud. 30 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/223/106-st-47-ave. Provides wide verges between the different kinds of traffic, as well as fully protected cycle paths, and wider sidewalks.

106 St just south of 51 Ave. 23.6 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/224/106-st-at-51-ave
Fully protected cycle tracks, a dedicated left turn lane and mixed right turn/thru lane. Wider sidewalks, wide verges between motor traffic and cycle paths. Simultaneous green intersection with 51 Ave.

106 St north of 53 Ave. 12 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/225/106-st-north-of-53-ave. Narrow road, just cycle lanes, downhill cycle lane extra wide to account for higher speeds. Sidewalk still wide.

106 St at curb extension near Pleasantview School. 16.6 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/226/106-st-at-pedestrian-crossing. Separated cycle paths, 2.4 metres wide each. Wider sidewalk. 1.8 metre wide pedestrian median refuge, 1.2 metre wide verges between motor traffic and cycle paths. Also near here is a traffic light controlled pedestrian crossing. That should go away in favour of a raised zebra crossing for pedestrians with a median refuge, possibly with amber lights, but ideally not with amber flashers.

106 St south of 61 Ave. 16.6 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/227/106-st-south-of-61-ave. Separated cycle paths, smaller verge but still a verge on either side. Dedicated left turn lane and mixed right turn/thru lane. Simultaneous green.

106 St at Allendale School. 18.5 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/228/106-st-at-allendale-school. Separated cycle paths, 2.5 metres each. Separate and wider sidewalks. 5.6 metre wide bidirectional road, ~2 metre verges between cycle paths and road.

106 St south of 76 Ave. 18.4 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/229/106-st-south-of-76-ave. Separated cycle paths. Separate and wider sidewalks. 5.6 metre wide bidirectional roadway and 1.9 metre wide verges between road.

106 St at Whyte Ave. 19 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/230/106-st-south-of-whyte-ave. Separate cycle paths, separate wide sidewalks. 5.6 metre wide bidirectional road, 1.9 metre wide verges between road and cycle paths.

106 St at Saskatchewan Drive. 12 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/231/106-st-south-of-saskatchewan-drive. Lower volume. Cycle lanes, 2 metres wide each, 4.4 metre wide bidirectional roadway. 1.8 metre wide sidewalks, no verges.

Onto 76 Ave now.

East of Saskatchewan Drive. 11.2 metres, http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/232/76-ave-east-of-saskatchewan-drive. Very narrow road. Will get a 30 km/h zone, as it would be unsafe to have a 50 km/h limit. North sidewalk 2 metres, 5 metre wide roadway and a pair of 2 metre wide cycle lanes.

76 Ave at 114 St. 15.2 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/233/76-ave-at-114-st. 5.6 metre wide roadway. Sidewalks 1.8 metres wide. 2.5 metre wide cycle tracks. 50 cm median between cycle tracks and road.

76 Ave at 111 St. 18.4 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/234/76-ave-at-111-st. 6 metre wide roadway, separate cycle paths, each 2.5 metres wide. Roadway of 5.6 metres. 2 metre wide sidewalks, on street parking on south side only. 80 cm wide door zone protecting eastbound cyclists, 1.2 metre wide verge on the north side protecting cyclists.

76 Ave at 109 St. 17.8 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/235/76-ave-at-109-st. Dedicated left turn lane, mixed right turn thru lane. 2.4 metre wide cycle tracks, 50 cm wide medians between cycle track and roadway. 1.8 metre wide sidewalks. Simultaneous green intersection.

76 Ave at 106 St. 18.1 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/236/76-ave-at-106-st, 5.8 metre wide roadway. 2.5 metre wide cycle paths, 1.7 metre wide north verge, 1.6 metre wide south verge. 2 metre wide sidewalks. 2 way yield sign controlled intersection.

76 Ave at 104 St. 15.6 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/237/76-ave-at-104-st. North sidewalk, 2 metres wide. 2.5 metre wide cycle paths on each side of the road. 1.5 metre wide verges between cycle paths and roadway on both sides. 5.6 metre wide road.

76 Ave at Gateway Boulevard. 14.4 metres. http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/238/76-ave-gateway-boulevard. North sidewalk only, 1.8 metres wide. 2.3 metre wide one way cycle paths on both sides of the road, 1.2 metre wide verges between path and roadway. 5.6 metre wide roadway.

It's a lot to take in, but such detail is needed if Edmonton is to go fully Dutch. We can't skimp out on anything, so let's make everything perfect as we have a perfect opportunity.

Small boy hit in crosswalk

Yesterday (Feb 23), a small boy was hit in a crosswalk in north Edmonton. The crossing is here: https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.5767253,-113.4778882,3a,75y,256.05h,82.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-5R_TWqesuTIRNH_CvYZow!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en. I want to see (not literally) what happened, why, and how this crash can be prevented again, and even who is responsible for this crash.

First, the small boy is a 7 year old child (unless his birthday is today. Someone in that case got him a nasty present). This means that there should be no expectation that he would behave perfectly. But the driver is legally responsible for the crash, due to speeding, 50 km/h during a school zone when said zone is active, when the limit is 30, and failure to yield. The daily volume in 2013 was around 5500 vehicles per day, peak hourly volume is around 500 vehicles per hour. The roadway at that cross section is around 21 metres of width. There is a parking lane on either side, a sidewalk on both sides of the road and 2 lanes for general purpose traffic.

But the roadway didn't do anything to help correct or minimize the chance of a mistake or reduce the impact, literally in this case, of the mistake. Absolutely nothing. There were flashing lights and a marked crossing, but that didn't really help. Zebra stripes on the crossing would have made it a bit better, but this is still a poorly designed roadway.

To see how this crossing could be a much better crossing and bring it up to sustainable safety principles, let's come up with a new plan for this road. 21 metres is by every measure plenty to have cycle tracks, median refuges, good buffers and plenty of speed calming. This is a school zone, a place where children in high volume use. What kind of person could possibly believe that motor vehicles should take priority here?

https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.5767253,-113.4778882,3a,75y,256.05h,82.15t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-5R_TWqesuTIRNH_CvYZow!2e0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en is my proposed cross section. The motor vehicle lane is actually 2.8 metres wide each way, but I added a bit of optical narrowing. There is a 2.4 metre wide median refuge, and 1.8 metre wide refuges between cycle track and roadway, enough for a disability buggy to wait if needed. 2.5 metre wide cycle tracks each way, and 2.2 metre wide sidewalks each.

The intersections will be on raised tables, and because 122 is a distributor by Dutch road hierarchy standards, it will have priority over side roads with the gateway profile. Corner radii will be sharpened, bus stop bypasses will be built and separation of dangerous differences in masses, speeds and directions will be implemented. The angle at which you approach the median refuge will need to be sharp enough to lower speeds down to 30 km/h. The permanent speed limit would be 30 km/h, as would the design speed.

I know that motor vehicle drivers will have it slightly less easy, but again, what kind of parent, human being or traffic engineer would prioritize cars over people's, children's safety? That boy would very likely not be in the hospital if this Dutch road design was truly implemented.

Council, residents who oppose this sort of infrastructure, traffic engineers who oppose these and others who block improvements like this are guilty, in addition to the driver who was actually controlling the car. You have blood on your hands. You are also liable, because it's been known for a long time, and a number of people have pointed our how big of a mistake it is to rely on drivers to know what they're doing and obey every single law 100% of the time, and nothing you did has prevented this collision. This boy very well may have a disability for the rest of his life as a result of this crash. If he does, then are you going to push his wheelchair around for the rest of his life? He also may have a phobia of cars for a long time. Helmets would not have improved this, as the crash was affecting his internal organs mainly. If the driver was distracted or drunk, how would high viz jackets have made this safer?

Strict liability could only have done something like pay for any medicines that this boy's family may need, pay for any therapy, maybe replace his backpack if it got stained, but nothing about thinking about the financial cost of a collision makes you not want to be in one. Do you really think that this boy's parents would be any more willing to let him walk around if they were financially compensated in the event of a crash?

If you are human, if you care even the slightest bit about people, if you have children, then you will understand my arguments, if you are city council, you WILL provide the improvements needed. If it costs 50 thousand, then I am willing to pay my 1/950000 share of the cost (the approximate population of the city by now).

But quite likely, this crash will be forgotten in a few days, obviously except for the people directly involved. When will people start caring. When will our Stop De Kindermoord happen? I want people to protest. I want them next week on a weekday, all of the students to come early, go into the crosswalk, into the road, sit down, play dead, obstruct traffic and not move until city council and the traffic engineers create a definitive plan for improving this road intersection, and making it safe. Not safer. Safe. Who here reading this blog or living in Edmonton, or both, is going to speak up. I will. Now who's with me?!

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Paying for cycle infrastructure

A lot of people are complaining about the cost to build cycle infrastructure. Governments often boast about how much they spend on it. However we do not get that much for our investment. Let's look at it further.

The Dutch spend around 30 euro per person. I don't know how much they used to spend in the peak of cycle path building between the 1980s and early 2000s, but it was much more than we spend now. Even assuming our current exchange rate, which is pretty bad right now compared to the euro (I know that the Netherlands used guilders before the early 2000s), we would be investing around 45 dollars or so per person per year. I don't know how much of this covers maintenance, if any at all, but even if it were assuming all the maintenance costs as well, it still leaves plenty of money to build cycle paths, big bridges, so many that they have to use the same name twice (this is a joke, no literalism), and even now investing in more. And this time it tends to be more expensive than it used to be, because they did most of the cheap and mundane first. Building a hundred racks in a pedestrianized street it like the cost of rice compared to the indoor underground guarded spaces with 10000 spaces. But we still must do the mundane and cheap first, because it is what really drives the cycling.

They also use their money much more efficiently. I found that the resurfacing of the outer lane of 40 Ave costed 900 thousand dollars. The cost to put the bike lanes in was probably around 500 thousand dollars or so. I am guessing around 1.5 million for the whole procedure. This is conjecture note. I don't really have a budget to work with. Let's assume the 2013 exchange rate with the euro, where 1 CAD (Canadian Dollar) bought you 97 cents in Euro. At least that was much better than now, where it's about 66 cents in euro for 1 CAD.

In 2009, even during the Great Recession, the Dutch still managed to invest in cycle infrastructure. In particular, Assen rebuilt the Groningenstraat. 800 metres of fully rebuilt from the sandbed up, utilities included, spent about 800 thousand euro on it, and this included the complete reconstruction of a traffic light controlled intersection, or possibly 2. Edmonton's 40 ave was 4.3 km long. So the math works out to about 1 thousand dollars (currency exchange included per metre of completely rebuilt roadway. So we could have had a completely rebuilt roadway for 4.3 million dollars, and this is including a simultaneous green intersection. It's actually a quite similar roadway profile to 40 ave with bike lanes. Except that the buffer is concrete and the cycle lanes are protected and outside of the car area. The cycle track is wider in Assen, and the sidewalk is wider. Parking was retained in Assen. And this was a good deal for Assen because it got a lot for their money. Utilities included, the sandbed reconstruction, completely new asphalt, sidewalk, everything. Given that Edmonton spent about 1.5 million on 40 Ave for that, it was not a good deal on our end.

This is just one example, I could find loads of examples. But the big kicker is how much we spend overall. We are spending 20 million on active transportation for the period 2015-2018 and this includes cycling, walking, the latter probably much more expensive because it included full sidewalk reconstruction, curb ramps and pedestrian crossing signals, whereas cycling got a few lines of paint, a few signs and markings, and exactly 2 traffic lights shaped like bicycles. Dividing by population, and by the number of years, 4, we spend around 5 dollars and 50 cents per person. A large fries and a large coke at McDonalds for every single person each year. Surely we can part with more than just a minor meal? Assuming we spend something like 50 dollars a head in Edmonton per year on the cycling budget alone, we could very feasibly get the Dutch style infrastructure very quickly. It would be about 2 family meals for a 4-5 person family. Or 2 full tanks of fuel (assuming 50 litre tank) each year. Not that much.

We spend much more on other things. The 41 Ave interchange was 205 million dollars over 2 years, or about 100 million per year, divided by about 950 thousand 105 dollars per person per year to pay for it. I've pretty sure that if we can pay for that, we can pay for cycle infrastructure. In fact, we could have spent 1 41 Ave interchange over this whole capital budget cycle, and gotten Dutch style cycle infrastructure.

And sometimes people (especially your dad) say things like "You gotta spend money to make money". For example getting a loan from a bank for say 100 dollars so that you can afford to buy goods that you will sell at a higher price from a big time supplier and make 200 dollars, enough to pay back the bank with and some profit. The Americans tend to really like capitalism. Why don't they call for spending money in cycle paths all the time so that they can get the economic benefits of people not needing to spend so much on cars, not needing so much fuel, not needing so much money on roads, less money wasted in congestion, and less healthcare spending needed from pollution to sedentary lifestyles being avoided?

We have a lot of money. The Dutch spend their more wisely than we do. How much longer do continue our economic irrationality?

Moe Banga and politicians in general.

I looked up who won yesterday in Ward 12. Turns out he was Moe Banga. I don't really know him, I don't live in Ward 12, but this election shows us some of the things that could be relevant.

First off, he was elected with being 1 out of the 32 candidates you could have picked from. He also won with just 2360 votes out of more than 13 thousand. I know that there are lots of political groups in the other levels of government, there is the traditional Conservative, NDP and Liberals vying for influence, a Green party is usually present these days, the Bloc Quebecois, there is a joke party or two, an animal group, a pirate party, a marijuana party, two communist parties, and more. But most of these aren't taken seriously except for the first 5. So it shows just how needed multiple vote voting systems are needed here. As in you can also pick your second and third choice. Maybe you like the Progressive Canadians first and would accept the Conservatives, maybe you have a first choice for the Liberals but are Ok with having an NDP government, etc. I like the single transferable style the best, video on that here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8XOZJkozfI

Secondly, and shying away from specific political parties now, let's think about how cycling often plays a part in municipal politics these days here. First, people somehow despite the absence of a problem, got the 40 ave bike lanes removed. So that was a mistake. Councillors need better data to work with. 40 Ave is less busy than Rutherford road is at 119 St, yet nobody advocates for making Rutherford Rd there a 4 lane divided arterial.

Politicians are often quite worried about getting enough support for re-election, except in North Korea, where Kim Jong Un has won landslide victories in each election he runs in, "I have no idea why" (no accepted punctuation mark to indicate irony or sarcasm yet). And it is hard to convince people on either side to be good philosophers, to be grateful to the other when they can create points for where no counterargument can be found. Let's say that me and one of my viewers were talking about where to go for lunch. We could introduce points about cost, nutritional information, whether the companies are ethical, how far away it is, how long it will take to eat, whether it's a place that is free of mice or not, etc. But it shouldn't be a conversation where we get angry and irrational about it. Maybe I suggest one place and it meets all of our criteria and there isn't s a better place to go. Why not just tolerate other people's suggestions and go with it even if you didn't come up with the idea? This is why political parties can have some troubles if their policies prove to be bad ones but they still feel like they have to stick to it because of their leanings.

Back to Moe Banga. This morning I sent him an email. I asked a number of questions about the road and traffic. I asked him how he will do the various things, so as to remove the option of sidestepping it by saying that he won't. I also asked "specifically" how he would do them, so as to introduce the debate over making sure there will be enough funding for it (around 75 dollars a person in the city is a good figure, so close to 72 million per year, until we get to the point where we have the cycle tracks and cycle lanes and 30 km/h zones everywhere, 45 dollars/person is good afterwards. That is a far lower budget than most things in roadway department), making sure that we are counting everyone in terms of who the infrastructure must be designed for, making sure that roadway department is actually going to design it to a very high standard.

I also set specific standards for him. I imposed Vision 0 as a standard, and asked him how he will support and help to implement that and do whatever he can as a councillor to do it. I also gave him a challenge: An 8 year old child, alone, in the winter darkness, no helmet or high viz jacket, on any route he or she desires, and still he/she is a safe child. This is the ultimate test to me. If that small kid is safe, and also feels safe while doing it, and his/her parents feel like that is a safe thing to do, then Edmonton passes the test. Fail in any one of these regards and the whole challenge is lost. And finally, I said how are we going to have wide bike lanes or cycle tracks on every road in the built up area with a speed limit over 30 km/h or a volume over 2000 vehicles per day, or both, and 30 km/h zones everywhere else in the built up area? This is the standard the Dutch use as well.

I encourage you all to do the same. Impose the same standards on your politicians. Don't ask whether they will do it, but how. Vision 0, the 8 year old child test and the universality of the infrastructure. This makes them actually think. I'd like to say for once, but then again, I have the guys in the Netherlands who actually voted for this in municipal councils for this to disprove the idea that they don't think (not being serious here).

Monday, 22 February 2016

Shared Space vs Nearly Car Free Spaces

An interesting concept has hit the streets the last few years. Something called shared space. The idea being that if you make people not knowing who should be where, who should go first, and other things like that, they will go slower and be more cautious. 

And to some extent introducing ambiguity does increase these things, ever notice that you drive closer to the centre of an unmarked roadway than on a road with a centre line? 

But it isn't all good news. In fact many of these shared spaces get a number of things fundamentally wrong. 

Sharing can only happen when those with big and powerful things are very restrained. You can share power with Napoleon if perhaps he is only the mayor of say Troyes, as in, not much power at all. Mixing with cars is OK given low speed, but probably of even greater importance is low volume. The street I live on has a 50 km/h speed limit, set by the default for non provincial highways in urban areas. But yet it's pleasant to ride on my street because almost nobody ever uses it. The garbage truck, a few delivery vehicles at times, some guests for parties a few times per month or so, plus the residents. 

This is why many attemps at fietsstraaten and shared space often fail. The volume of motor traffic is still too high. The Kerkplein in Assen is an example. Regardless of how careful and slow a driver, in particular buses, may be behind you, would it feel safe to have all that metal and rubber around you? 

Other concerns include thinking about the blind. Another goal of shared space tends to include removing the differences between sidewalk and roadway. This can make it a real challenge for someone who can't see to understand where is what. Tactile paving helps, but if you do that, then finding the intended crossings can also be difficult. 

Shared space is not what you want. The Dutch phrase Autoluwte is what you really want for a street like this, or an honest to goodness woonerf. The idea behind each of them is to open up the whole street to people, but in different ways. Autoluwte means streets with extremely little car traffic, and indeed that is the translation: Nearly Car Free (Good idea David). This is usually done in the pedestrianized zones. Of course somehow the people living there and the storeowners need to get things delivered by van sometimes, and so pedestrianized districts in the Netherlands have specific exceptions for deliveries, usually restricted to off peak hours. Many pedestrianized streets in the Netherlands permit cycling. However they are not main routes for cycling. The focus is access for cycling. Sharing with pedestrians where there are too many pedestrians is a bad idea. 

The other kind of nearly car free street is the woonerf. This translates to living yard or living street. Nobody uses the street unless they live there or have an actual need of being there, like guests for a party. Many traffic calming elements are used to maintain the speed limit, which was literally walking pace, but given that a car engine might stall at those speeds, and that it had to be an exact figure in EU law, it was set at 15 km/h, which is about the speed an automatic car will go if you just turn the shifter to drive and take your foot off of the pedal. Really no more speed needed than that. Parked cars alternate between sides of the street, there is brick paving, intersections might be raised, will certainly be uncontrolled and the street is very narrow. Often they are one way streets for motor traffic. 

Note that these are not main routes for cycling either. There should be plenty of access and filtered permeability, but they aren't main routes, which are much straighter, smoother, wider and with no expectations of slowing down for playing people. It is not as pleasant having swarms of cyclists riding past your house either, and it is not good to mix a main stream of cycle traffic and children playing on the street itself. Pedestrians are not restricted to the sidewalk, if a sidewalk is even present, and they are not required to walk on the side of the road. You are even encouraged to play in the middle of the street. 

The sign for woonerven regulations shows a person walking, a kid playing and a house, all bigger than a car icon on the same sign, showing exactly who the street is for anyway. 

Shared space is not what you want. More nearly car free (and indeed some car free spaces too) zones is what you want. 

Sunday, 21 February 2016

People are quite stupid. A look at reasoning and statistics.

And road managers and people advocating for people's safety have to keep you from killing yourself with your own incompetence. Not saying that you will preform poorly on a math test or anything like that, but humans have a lot of biases, they gauge the wrong risks, and tend to think that they are more capable than everyone else. This isn't an insult towards my audience. This is a statement about humans in general.

I learned a lot about bias and risk from Vsauce on Youtube. The survivorship bias might point us towards a correlation, perhaps we say that based on the fact that most people who come home after riding with a helmet, then we should all wear bike helmets, but probably the most important thing in science, which you should all know from school by now unless you are maybe in the third grade, is that correlation is NOT causation. And phrases that appear closely related is often doing something wrong in the equation P therefore Q, Wonderwhy on Youtube made a video on that.

An example of how correlation is not causation. The number of deaths while skiing (or possibly because of skiing. There's a difference) and the number of drivers killed by train crash is actually quite a close correlation, though anyone who actually knows anything about math knows that should be used to imply cause. Or, you could say that all ravens are black, everything that's not black is not a raven and this green apple is not a raven. Clearly the apple and raven shouldn't have anything to do with each other, yet all of these phrases are true.

Of course there must be logical explanations for things that do happen. For example we find that roundabouts in the Netherlands with separate bicycle paths have much better safety records than those roundabouts that do assign cycle priority on an annular bicycle path. It could be that the priority roundabouts were unlucky, that they have higher traffic, that they handle less trained drivers or younger children, but the simplest explanation that works for roundabouts is that drivers simply have too much to do in order to let cyclists proceed safely, and especially not with the sightlines of ring shaped bicycle paths. The simplest explanation is usually the right answer, though there are of course exceptions.

Some correlations do lead us to useful results. If you do see a correlation, often it leads to finding reasons for that correlation that use the deductive reasoning method. And sometimes invalid reasoning can be perfectly true. For example: The Sun will rise tomorrow. How can I prove that? Just because it's done that every day that we know of before? Yet it is one of the most obvious things that really happens.

Things that are not obvious must not be overlooked. Nor things that are counter intuitive. The Dutch found that even though you are free to buy up to 5 grams of marijuana if you are 18 or over in Amsterdam, the usage rate is actually lower than Canada and especially the US. That shouldn't make sense at first glance. But for various reasons, it works. Bike helmets too. If you make people wear helmets, that should be a medical benefit. But apparently, the rate of cycling declines so much that the health benefits that outweigh helmets are lost, and possibly more reckless behavior. I mean if you are in a tank like a Sherman or a T34, vs a car, which one would you more dangerous things in willingly?

Of course there must be a logical reason for the Dutch cycling so much more than other industrialized nations. Wealth? No, The Dutch are among the richest in the world. Training? No. Even an idiot can ride a bike. All you need is balance and the ability to push your feet up and down and control a handlebar. Car driving incidentally needs very little training to get fairly good at too. I was driving on a 90 km/h expressway on my second lesson (true story). The weather? Australia has pretty warm weather and that doesn't seem to make cycling more attractive enough that 30% of people use it on a daily basis for their practical journeys. It's weather is very similar to Britain, especially Kent, and yet Kent has much less cycling.

No. The reason is the existence of cycle paths and low volume low speed roads that make the final link between origin and destination, plus the efficiency offered by the bicycle paths and the bicycles they ride. These are the core reasons. Various things could make it a bit more attractive, but these are the things that make or break the cycling society.

When you look at data, and this goes for everything not just cycling and walking, you must examine the data vociferously. And you must look at the context, error margins, how it was reported, why it's being collected, how was it collected, over what time frame, what other things could be influencing . the results. Look at all the data you can, and don't ignore conflicting data without at least seeing if the data is right or wrong yet. Use the scientific method, question, hypothesis, observation and confirmation (simplified) to look at the data you have. And make sure that your sources are reliable and could be repeated as much as possible. For example if you decide to grow two plants with different fertilizers but everything else was controlled, then the growth rate and end height of each plant should be the same if you try the experiment in April of this year or the next year for example. Control the variables as much as possible, ideally all but one (if you controlled all the variables then what are you testing for?). You must be accurate with your data if you are to be a reliable source yourself and not draw yourself into fallacies. You must make sure that you aren't prioritizing or denying something just because it's new or hyped about.

Your beliefs are your beliefs, but what you actually do with other people should be based on facts that can be proven. If I was designing a road, shouldn't I use the most accurate information and not just make people wear a helmet and say "off you go" in the 60 km/h divided 4 lane arterial 20000 vehicle per day traffic while riding a bicycle? Would anyone accept that with their children or grandparents, husband, wife, friend, other special relationship?

People can be stupid, only when we not ignore our biases, and look at actual data can we avoid the stupidity.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A complete cycle route proposal Part 2

Where we last left off, we had the part of the main cycle routes to the west of Johnny Bright School planned. Now let's get the route from the park near the school to Bowen Wynd ready. 

First, the park. 

The paths there need a bit of tinkering, a new sidewalk needs to be built and the paths also need to be widened, plus the correct markings need to be installed. For the most part the latter just consists of a new centre line and pedestrian crossing markings, though a few sharks teeth would also be added. A new drainage system would also be good to have. 

 
The realignment is needed to ensure that pedestrians can freely get from the swingset to the rest of the playground without crossing a cycle path. Image left shows what I mean. I'd like to have the playground on the south side of the cycle path that is the primary one going east and west, but I don't think that's feasible. A new sidewalk should be built if there is room next to the path through the forest. If there is room, then the path should be widened to at least 3 metres. It's a secondary route, a more recreational oriented path. If there isn't room, then widen out the path as wide as possible. Either way, the sidewalk should continue at least until the edge of the forest. 

A new zebra striped crossing should be built where the sidewalk from the playground crosses the east-west cycle path. Given the importance, and the number of children, this is a good idea. The sidewalk should have a ramp down, rather than the bicycle path going up, to warn pedestrians of the fact that there is a thing that you must cross. Children are taught how to cross a road similarly, I'm hoping that the same would work for a bicycle path. 

Towards the east, the cycle path continues along the same alignment as it normally does. At the crossing with some paths that lead towards minor residential roads, not on any real main route, not even a secondary route but just examples of filtered permeability, it should have a 3 metre wide cycle path and a 2 metre wide sidewalk, unless the pedestrian volume is low enough (during peak hours), in which case a simple 3 metre wide asphalt path will do just fine. It should join up with the main road like the picture to the right (RantyHighwayMan)
 
 
A smooth transition, and if there is a proven need of bollards, they should be designed like that, though with red and white stripes. A curb extension would be handy if there is parking. 

Junctions with the main cycle path should be simple priority crossings, with yield signs and sharks teeth facing the minor access path, wide corner radii, at least 1.5 metres of corner radii built into the asphalt, and no problems. Pedestrians get a lowered curb and tactile paving, and if the volume is high, a marked crossing. 

The main routes themselves would be 4 metres wide, with a 2 metre wide sidewalk separated by  a small verge for the most part, sometimes a 30 degree angled curb. The main path will be red asphalt, the sidewalk grey concrete unless the local residents want some decoration, and sidepaths will usually be black because they are not that important of a path and black is cheaper. The cross section for an ordinary route would look like this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/217/rutherford-pathways.

At the crossing with the pipeline right of way path (the city likes to put paths under power lines and over top of pipelines and utility lines because you can't really build anything else there and they are mostly straight lines), running from the southeast and the (future) town centre to the northeast near the stormwater pond and the Tim Hortons, the path that we have been following yields to the pipeline ROW path, and same with the other nearby path that ends in a T junction. There may or may not be marked pedestrian crossings, but if there are, zebra crossings or the two parallel line type is acceptable because we are not dealing with motorized traffic. The pipeline ROW path has the same cross section. The corner radii also must be larger, 3.5 metres is good. Note that this is the paved surface.

I expect many people to walk here, and already they do in large numbers. I even had trouble filtering my way past pedestrians here before the volume was so high. A 2 metre wide separate sidewalk might be increased to 2.5 or 3 metres depending on the volume, but it must be separate. The extra width of the path and better advice to stay right unless overtaking is also useful because I ride a little faster, closer to 20-25 km/h rather than 10-15 km/h that some smaller children do. 

The route takes the next right north, to go towards the Catholic school. As it does, it meets more minor side paths, and they gets the same treatment as others along the route. 

It crosses Rutherford Rd again. I am fairly confident in that a priority crossing is safe here. But I think it should be OK. We need something to indicate that there is a transition into a 30 km/h zone (the gateway S curve, raised table, signage and a brick surface helps here). The sightlines here should be Ok for a priority crossing, especially if the road is realigned a bit. Here is a drawing to show how such a crossing could be designed:


The bend out in the road allows better sightlines from the west, gives a natural reason for drivers to slow down and encourages yielding, and as I mentioned before, is the perfect transition into a 30 km/h zone. 

The path to the north continues north. In a cross section that looks like this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/218/cross-section-in-front-of-catholic-school, it allows for enough room for everyone. I use a 5.6 metre wide roadway, a 2 metre wide west sidewalk, 4 metre wide cycle path on the east side, a 3 metre wide east sidewalk and plenty of space as buffers, especially a 6 metre wide buffer protecting the cycle path. 

Here is an overhead view of the path alignments in front of the school:

Fairly normal, though a new access is created to get from the cycle path to 15 Ave here, which can be a safe 30 km/h low volume road, and a bicycle parking lot access. Given that it's on a bend in the roadway for cars, a priority crossing is safe here too. 

To transition the paths back to their normal positions north of the school, another priority crossing is needed. Another bend in the roadway and path make this a safe thing to do. And coming from the north, it needed a way to indicate beginning of a school zone anyway. Overhead view here: 

This path also creates a brand new connection. It gives a direct route to James Mowatt Trail. Another example of how cyclists can take increasingly unraveled routes from car journeys. Again, it would be a normal 4 metre wide cycle path and a 2-3 metre wide sidewalk. The corner radius will allow for at least 25 km/h speeds around the corner if you are following the main route. The pathways from the north BTW yield, as they form the ending path in a T junction. 

The path goes between the sports fields. A fence may be needed to stop errant soccer balls and footballs from hitting anyone cycling there. But if it does, it must not be too close, a couple metres separation between fence and cycle path is needed. If someone falls off and hits a metal fence, then that is going to be a much worse crash than it normally would. 

At James Mowatt Trail, the main route ends. Most of the traffic is likely to either go north or south. some cycle and foot traffic will go to Blackmud Creek. The route crosses James Mowatt trail on a motorist priority crossing. A median refuge, speed table designed for 50 km/h, a lowered speed limit down to 50 km/h, narrowed lanes and a complete closure of Bowen Wynd to motor traffic all help make this as safe as possible. The road may be realigned slightly to the west to provide a natural slow down as a speed enforcer and to give better sightlines for westbound cyclists and pedestrians. The stop sign is changed to a yield sign facing cyclists in both directions. Bowen Wynd being closed is really no big deal. There is very little traffic there anyway and good alternate routes exist, and it doesn't increase the journey times more than a minute or two, if that. The bus stop will be moved into a bus bay, so that any future stopping buses won't impact the traffic flow. The median refuge is a critical element in making this a safe crossing. Many times have I used that intersection only to find that there is a gap in one direction but not the other. The cycle path next to James Mowatt is upgraded, with a 2 metre sidewalk and a widened path, up to 4 metres. In future the crossing may need a traffic light, but I have doubts about it. 

Also the transition into the crossing for the cyclists will be relocated to be a bit to the north, better on the desire lines and makes that motor vehicles can better predict the movements of people. A zebra crossing is used for pedestrians, probably on the south side of the intersection. 

So that is the completed route, a 1.7 km route that links a pair of schools, links houses, provides some more filtered permeability and most important; it's away from motor traffic. That makes it much more pleasant and safe. The route minimizes conflicts, the conflicts that remain are low speed conflicts for the most part, the crossing with the by far busiest road is made safer, and if built, and complete with upgrades to other routes and the creation of low volume 30 km/h zones would make this route even more well used than it already is. It makes it a much safer route, reduces the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, which currently are so bad that the teachers at Johnny Bright insist that you dismount your bicycles when approaching the school even on a shared use path, and is safe for all.

Homogeneity of masses, speeds and directions, the roads are made closer to their function, James Mowatt becomes a distributor road, and the collectors are made closer to their function with removal of parking for instance, the route creates predictable behavior by creating natural reasons for people to do what they do, makes people instantly understand what kind of road you're on and people can better predict what others will do. The routes are more forgiving of errors. The curbs are angled when a cyclist is next to them, the speeds are reduced at conflict points with motor vehicles, so any crash that does happen is going to be less damaging. The different types of traffic are separated making any crash that happens less likely to involve a 3rd party like dooring so often does. And it accounts for the awareness of the different road users. Children are given special attention given that these are primarily school routes. The choices and instructions about what to do are clear, they are easy to understand and you are more likely to make them even without thinking about it. And the stress on drivers is better taken into account in the design. How many parents reading this with children being dropped off at school often feel very stressed by the bell that is just a minute or two away or some other function that you have to be at at a specific time and are annoyed by the congestion and mistakes of other people? This route meets sustainable safety standards. 

It needs fine tuning, engineers would have to work on this, designing each detail, but they do this with roads which are even harder to build like Anthony Henday. Why not create a safe, pleasant and attractive place that very well may encourage many more to cycle. My own mother would have allowed me to cycle to Johnny Bright if this route was made, I asked her about the idea. Even if you aren't concerned with this particular route, use it as an example for what could be done in your communities, your city/county/town, your country. It's free for all to quote and even use examples. 

A complete cycle route proposal Part 1 and cycling to school

In this blog, I'm going to create and argue for a new cycle route, well, part upgraded, part new, how it interacts with what is already there, and along the way, I get to talk about cycling to school.

In Rutherford, a major school with over 1000 students (the last time I checked, which was when I had to go to a different school because they ran out of space) attracts students from many different neighbourhoods in Heritage Valley, and while there is going to soon be a new school in Blackmud Creek, there will still be traffic going to that school.

If you have ever observed the parking lot and drop off zone, you will see the 30 km/h speed limit during school hours is partly self enforced; due to the fact that cars hold each other up, and nobody can move at times. The pedestrian volume is so high that they have to employ 6th graders as crossing guards to prevent them from proceeding due to the sheer volume of pedestrians. Cycling is much more common than it usually is due to the students there, but few adults cycle and it is not yet as safe an activity as it should, and the pathway network is mainly designed for recreation, though the routes are fairly direct and are well away from motor traffic. You'll never guess why parent's are fine with their children cycling here: https://www.google.ca/maps/@53.4159332,-113.5319167,3a,75y,39.22h,80.05t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1skhHmTuHktK0S6TxSmVsmMQ!2e0!6s%2F%2Fgeo1.ggpht.com%2Fcbk%3Fpanoid%3DkhHmTuHktK0S6TxSmVsmMQ%26output%3Dthumbnail%26cb_client%3Dmaps_sv.tactile.gps%26thumb%3D2%26w%3D203%26h%3D100%26yaw%3D254.1902%26pitch%3D0!7i13312!8i6656?hl=en unless you guessed "No cars on this trail".

Clearly the environment could be dramatically improved for cycling. And walking for that matter. The Dutch have very close to 100% of students walking or cycling to school. It is so mainstream that a parent was hounded for unusually taking her kid to school by car, you can get fined if you do so in some cities, and parents will hound others sometimes if they do take their kids around by car excessively because it "deprives" them of the ability to learn how to ride well.

Walking is good up to around 600 metres as an effective means of transport, though 1 km or so is acceptable. Cycling works well even for a number of kilometres. 5 km journey is not a big deal for an 8 year old child on good infrastructure. Even at a slow pace of 15 km/h, assuming no stops, it can be done in 20 minutes. And even the southernmost tip of Allard is only a 3.8 km journey, closer to around 15 minutes.

But for the conditions for cycling to be good enough to encourage something like 75% of kids to cycle and another ~15-25% of them to walk, you need good infrastructure that allows for complete journeys from home to the school door, no exceptions. And if even we begin to run out of cycle parking now at the public and Catholic schools in the neighbourhood, we will certainly be out of cycle parking if we get up to Dutch levels. And stopping the helmet and high viz mantra of "cycle safety" couldn't hurt either.

Critical: We need to keep cyclists and pedestrians on separate paths and limit the number of times they cross, and there needs to be at least a splay curb separating them. This is because we have a very high volume of pedestrians here, much more than we usually see. And this volume is mostly made up of children. Same with cyclists, many of those are children here. And the 5th rule of Sustainable Safety demands that we take into account how likely people are to be able to assess what they need to do as part of traffic. Children aren't dumb, but they can make more mistakes than most of us. So it is especially important that we separate car and cycle traffic flows, cycle and pedestrian flows and make our roads as easy to use and very forgiving of errors. We also must account for the high volume of pedestrians in the width of our sidewalks. I am going with 2 metres for the most part, but some places will have wider sidewalks.

So let's actually look at the route we could be making. Let's start at 15 Ave and Rutherford Way in the West and end at Bowen Wynd in the East.

In the west, we have a 20 metre wide roadway, with 2 lanes for motor vehicles, on street parking on both sides, a planted boulevard and sidewalks on both sides. No safe place to ride a bike. Given that this is a 50 km/h distributor roadway (reducing to 30 near the school during school hours, let's make the 30 permanent so we don't have to design for the top speed of 50) with a fairly high volume, we will need to have separate cycleways. We have the space for cycle paths rather than cycle lanes, so let's use the cycle paths. We don't have any houses directly affronting the road, and no businesses either, we we won't need the on street parking at all.

So our profile looks like this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/212/15-ave-rutherford-way. With 2.5 metre wide one way cycle paths on both sides of the street, a widened out sidewalk, 2.5 metres each, a 1.5 metre wide buffer between road and cycle path and because we have an added number of small children here, and we have the space to do so, let's add a 70 cm wide planting buffer, plus it will make it easy to have nice planting for pedestrians as well as for cyclists.

At Rutherford Rd coming from the North (just at the forest line), the roadway is the same width, 20 metres wide. Because we also have a 50 km/h distributor road, with close to 4000 vehicles per day, we also will need cycle tracks. Because we have fewer pedestrians here, we don't need as much of a sidewalk, but still a slightly widened out one from the one we have. In the end, we have this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/213/rutherford-rd-south-of-tree-line with 2 metre wide sidewalks, a 50 cm wide grass strip between cyclists and pedestrians and a wider area between the paths and roadway, up to 2.2 metres.

South of the tree line, we would need to transition southbound cyclists to the east side of the road to better connect with the school. It is possible here because we have the space to have a safe priority crossing, and because we would be by that time hopefully within the 30 km/h zone, we would have a need of naturally slowing the cars down anyway. We need a bend in the road. Like this drawing:

There is a bend in the road to A slow cars and B create better sightlines. The width and the exact figure obviously would not be exactly like this, but the principles are the same. There is room for a safe priority crossing here. It makes the transition more convenient for cyclists, and makes it safe. It also creates the perfect transition into a 30 km/h school zone for cars. 
Now at the point where the road and path straighten up again, the cross section will look like this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/214/rutherford-rd-south-of-the-priority-crossing. It has a seemingly narrower roadway, but in reality it's just a painted buffer which maintains the roadway width at 5.6 metres like it normally is along the road in my plans. The sidewalk is much wider because of the expected volume of pedestrians, we have a 4 metre wide cycle path, a 1 metre wide planted buffer, a 6 metre wide buffer between cycle path and road, this prepares for drop off zone access crossing the cycle path and sidewalk a few metres to the south. The sidewalk on the west side of 2 metres wide with a 2.5 metre wide tree boulevard. 

Further to the south, the sidepath crossing with the drop off zone would be a typical access road junction with a distributor, with a raised and continuous sidewalk, steep curbs and a cycle path that could barely be distinguished from midblock cross sections. 

Further to the south, we will need to amend several functions. First, assuming we do actually keep the bus route here (I'd advise against keeping the bus routes, municipal and yellow buses, the latter of which actually shouldn't be existing at all except maybe for field trips. The school isn't far from 127 St, less than 400 metres, and specialty minibuses can transport any disabled people here) the stop should be just to the west of the public parking lot; this avoids problems at the 15 Ave intersection and the transition of the cycle path from bidirectional to a pair of 1 ways. If the bus stop is kept, then the cross section should look something like this: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/215/rutherford-rd-near-school-entrance. Secondly, we will need to create a way to get from the cycle path to the bicycle parking lot, which should expand using the space within the "triangle" of sidewalks. This can be done by using a cycle path crossing of the drop off zone. Given that there is a bend in the road, plus the good sightlines and can be combined with good visual priority and a raised table, and the already low speed of cars, this won't be a problem. 

For 15 Ave/Rutherford Rd intersection, we have a couple options. One of them will not be shared space. Given the high volumes here, that would fail and be very dangerous. We could use an uncontrolled intersection, but given the volumes I don't like that idea. We could use a mini roundabout with separate cycle paths around it in a non annular fashion. One advantage of this is making turns is easier by car, something that is quite useful in this particular location. A disadvantage is that we might have a problem with cyclists being able to proceed through. And it could impact any sort of effort to create a cycle priority crossing just to the south. I think the best option is to have a 1 way yield intersection with motor traffic and cyclists from 15 Ave yielding to Rutherford Rd. A raised table and if possible, central medians, will make it easier to use this intersection. 

Cross section here: http://streetmix.net/CyclingEdmonton/219/rutherford-road-at-15-ave It has a 3 metre wide central median for waiting in the middle of the road as a cyclist or pedestrian and leaves a bit of a gap for car drivers to turn left or right slightly easier, there is a good verge of 5 metres between cycle path on the east side of Rutherford Rd and and roadway, so that a car's length of space is still there, the sidewalk is of a good width of 2.5 metres on the east side and 2 metres on the west side, an adequate gap of 2.5 metres has been created for the tree boulevard on the west side, with standard car lane widths. A 30 degree 5 cm tall curb rather than a row of plants will separate pedestrians and cyclists on the east side. 

On the south side of the intersection, the 4 metre wide cycle path will need to become a pair of one way cycle paths instead, and the transition should be on a cycle priority crossing. There is less of a gap as on the north side but still just enough that it could be done safely, especially given that I've either relocated the bus stops or relocated the routes. Here is a model.

Again, still crude. But it still creates an easy to understand and use, and especially safe, design. It has an S curve instead of a normal bend on a road, this would be made quite a bit sharper than most S curves, again, the design speed is 30 km/h not 50, this is also a gateway to a school zone. Combined with the expectation that given good enough cycle and walking infrastructure many more people would not be using cars here, so the volume would be much lower, and visual priority, sightlines and a significant raised table, this should be OK. Note that I added a cycle path connecting an access road to the southeast. An example of filtered permeability. The one way eastbound cycle path on 15 Ave is also visible here. 

I need to go and rest now. I will be writing the part where I get from the school to Bowen Wynd in a future post. Keep your email addiction going so you can see it soon.