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. 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.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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, 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. 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. 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. 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., 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. 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. 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.

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