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:

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:, 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. 

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