Roundabouts Are Great But They Are Not Traffic Circles

When it comes to intersection design, I’m a big fan of roundabouts. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably come across more than a few tweets touting the benefits of roundabouts. From time to time I do radio interviews which are supposedly going to be about the Oilers, and even then I manage to squeeze in some talk about roundabouts. For an intersection requiring more traffic control than a two-way stop a roundabout is my intersection design of choice. Continue reading

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Taking A Walk Down Jasper Avenue

Both my office and my favourite pub are located on Jasper Avenue. And because I really like beer I find myself walking the nine blocks between the two probably at least once a week. Because of the rehabilitation work that was being completed on Jasper Avenue and below street level on Central Station there was an element of surprise to the walk for more than a year. Which side would be open? Would I have to cross Jasper multiple times? Where would the crosswalks be? But now that construction is complete (mostly) at street level those questions are a thing of the past and now I can enjoy the last three blocks of the walk in a friendlier pedestrian environment with much wider sidewalks.

For those that might not know, the Jasper Avenue rehabilitation work included reducing the portion of the right-of-way that was being used by cars and using the newfound space to widen the sidewalks. A cross-section that previously included on-street parking and two driving lanes in each direction has been shrunk down and is now just two lanes wide with the curb lane designated for parking during off peak hours. In terms of providing a space for pedestrians projects like this are fantastic in that they provide an attractive, pedestrian friendly corridor. In this case with that added benefit of having very little impact on those who drive Jasper Avenue since there is the same capacity available during rush hour – provided nobody parks on the street when they shouldn’t. Toss in a pedestrian scramble intersection at 100A Street and this is the kind of project that I can’t help but like.

And I do like it, but I’d like to suggest something if I could: Change the signal timings just a little bit, please.  Continue reading

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Do Bike Lanes Make Cyclists Less Safe? No, They Don’t.

sharrow!Bike lanes continue to be a divisive topic in Edmonton. Both sides are dug in, with some people thinking they’re great and others thinking they’re terrible. There might still be a couple of people on the fence but they are few and far between at this point. It’s essentially become the city planning equivalent of the fighting in hockey debate. Everyone has picked a side and nobody is moving an inch.

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Posted in Bicycles, Edmonton Roads | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Introducing the Squircle

Image taken from An Application of Safe System Approach to Intersections in the Capital Region - Pilot Project. Phase 1: Progress Report.

Image taken from An Application of Safe System Approach to Intersections in the Capital Region – Pilot Project. Phase 1: Progress Report.

Ladies and gentlemen allow me to introduce you to the squircle (click on the image to the left to enlarge it). This is an intersection concept that I first came across a couple of years ago but had completely forgot about until seeing it at a presentation I attended on Wednesday. The idea is basically a combination of a signalized intersection and a roundabout. I think the name could use some work, but don’t worry, it’s not nearly as complicated as it looks. Continue reading

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The Problem With Fixed Signal Timings

By Jacklee. (Own work.) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday, my wife and I, along with a friend, headed for the Downtown Farmers Market, and since my wife is less than mobile right now, the result of foot surgery a couple of weeks ago, we opted to drive. Living just outside of what most consider to be downtown in Rossdale we usually prefer to walk but that just wasn’t an option on this day, not unless I wanted to carry Emily up the hill, and the be totally honest that didn’t much interest me. Because we happened to be driving and not walking as we normally would I noticed how little sense the traffic signals in and around downtown make on the weekend.

On the trip to the market and again on the way back we stopped at a red light at the intersection of 99 Street and 101A Avenue. Even if I ignore for a minute that 99 Street is ridiculously overbuilt in this area with two travel lanes for north and south bound traffic plus on-street parking in both directions I really can’t get my head around why the signals would be on a fixed timing pattern when there is next to no traffic on either street. The purpose of a traffic signal is assign right-of-way to vehicles and pedestrians. When used properly they promote orderly traffic movement and to prevent excessive delays. In this case though the signals are the only thing delaying traffic. And that’s a problem; one that, luckily, can be easily fixed.

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Posted in Intersections, Traffic Signals | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments