Monday, 23 May 2016

Little things that we can do to improve our roads

There are a lot of small things that we rarely think about when looking at roads. I have few ideas about some small things that make a big impact.

The pedestrian crosswalk lights. These should be shielded from the driver's perspective. It makes them use it to figure out whether they will be able to proceed through or not. Especially if they have a countdown timer to the solid don't walk (or solid red man, depending on where you are) signal. It is causing more crashes than they save.

Curbs. Why don't we angle the curbs here? A small change from 90 degrees to 45 degrees in terms of the curbs next to roadways and from 90 to 30 when next to cycleways or roads with bicycles intended to be used on them. They forgive errors, reducing injuries, often serious, and sometimes even fatalities, on bike and they make it easier for drivers to exit the road if they absolutely have to while still discouraging it being done and reduces the damage done if you do accidentally hit the curb. It just saves a lot of money while not really costing anything. I doubt that people would actually really notice on a day to day basis.

Crosswalk signs. Often times these are more effective, even if you don't have amber flashers, if you put the sign above the road lanes, not to the side of them. Having such a sign is very unusual to have overhead, and thus more likely to be seen and understood.

Removing the upstand and adding tactile paving. I have often times have had drinks spill when cycling just because someone didn`t ensure that there is no upstand to the curb ramps whenever I use a pathway ramp. And when pushing wheeled things, the upstand on normal sidewalks as well is very annoying.

Raised intersections. Add these to intersections to help control speeds, especially where it will matter most. Design them to be comfortably taken at the speed limit or less. 30 km/h in access roads and where you cross cycleways and footways without traffic signals, like at roundabouts, 50 km/h at most arterial road intersections, 70 on a few urban through road corridors and on the exits from the motorways at interchanges when you come off and go back to being on a normal road.

Paint posts with stripes. Probably normal horizontal strips, but maybe angled ones work even better. Either way, they work very well to make the contrast very much improved. Poles tend to be rather unforgiving in a crash. Thus, seeing where they are is a good thing to have, especially in the dark. Posts that may affect cyclists are generally red and white in the Netherlands, most other poles are black and white, and posts holding up navigation signs are usually blue and white. Interesting choices by the Dutch, but they work, so why not?

And finally, road studs. As in, when slightly tactile markings are used that also show where the line markings are optically. Usually called cat's eyes in the UK. I drove in British Columbia at nightlast year, and it was far easier to see the lanes because of the reflectivity. And driving around the main city at night also was easier because of the traffic signal visibility. It's obvious that these are really useful. Even on a bike they can help. Adding yellow ones to the centre lines of two way paths would show when paths are bidirectional, and also adding white ones to the edges as well through curves shows where the curve goes. It may be that even a high powered bike light won't reflect (though car headlights will work anyway). If that is the case, solar studs can do this too. It works best for line markings because other shapes are hard to show via cat's eyes. They also give a bit of tactile feedback, letting you know if you are straying from your lane, even in the daytime. I suggest using yellow as centre lines, white for normal lane markings, red for the right edge markings, and green for turn lanes and exit lanes and also when lanes are joining the other lanes. It is very easy to remember and works brilliantly. Even better news is that they are friendly to snow plows. Even better.

So there you have it. 7 ways to improve the operation and safety of roads without much cost and without people really caring at all about them consciously but they learn to use these to great effect. It saves money from collisions prevented and with less damage to roadside objects. Why not?

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas for great people. Thanks for fronting this information.

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