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?

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