Another Bronson Plan

Members of the Dalhousie and Centretown community associations met to create a suggested Bronson layout that would be a first step to creating a more liveable street.  Here are my notes on the proposal for a new Bronson between Albert and Gladstone:

 Drawing up a plan by ourselves has certain disadvantages — we cannot estimate turn lane lengths, for example. But we are suggesting these things to the planning group in an effort to get started on a plan that might, with tweaking, be acceptable to the neighborhood and many stakeholders.

First, let’s differentiate this plan from the one recently outlined on posts last week on this WestSideAction blog. That plan, for 2 lanes of traffic with a centre TWLTL (two way left turn lane) was developed because I had the traffic literature and volume data to back up the suggestion, ie, I know it will work.

The plan we suggest now is one we have not had time to find traffic literature to support, but there are enough similarities to the 2+TWLTL that we think it will handle the same volume of traffic while delivering more neighborhood benefits. At this point it should be pointed out that while we target handling the current volume of road traffic on Bronson, we by no means consider this sacred: the city is growing, it cannot endlessly stuff more traffic onto Bronson, at some point, it’s a “no more” situation, and we see no reason why the volume last week is more defensible a upper limit than a volume some day in the future. If the redesigned road handles slightly less traffic, or with slightly more delays, so be it.

The basic outline of the plan is as follows:

  • reduce Bronson to two through lanes, with additional left turn lanes at signalized intersections such as Laurier, Primrose, Somerset, Christie, Gladstone. This should handle the current volume without delays.

  • in between these three lane sections, introduce one parking lane, probably on the west side (as there are fewer intersections on that side)

  • only the two through lanes to paved in asphalt, parking bays to protected by curb extensions with trees and utility poles such as light fixtures. Parking bays to be paved in interlock pavers or textured pavement so there is a clear and consistent message that this is a two lane road and not a four lane road interrupted by bulb outs

  • this 2 lane plus parking bay layout will permit the widening of the side boulevard by at least two feet on each side of the road. Coupled with paving sidewalks right back to the property limit, we will achieve wider sidewalks plus room for curb-side planting of trees at 12-16′ centres

  • an experienced landscape consultant needs to be engaged to plan a very aggressive tree and shrub planting scheme including the city aggressively incorporating the adjacent dead spaces between most buildings and the front lot lines, ie on private property

  • reduce the posted speed limit if required to accomodate a tighter built environment and traditional main street character

With respect to lane size, the two traffic lanes should be of the city’s standard width for vehicles plus cyclists in mixed traffic. We are not suggesting a painted bike lane. The turn lanes should be of a standard vehicle width without extra space for cyclists as cyclists in the turn lanes should “take the lane” if mixed with traffic, or if less confident, pause at the far side of intersections and turn 90 degrees with to stay on the curb edge.

We suggest that in this plan, funding be set aside to improve the parallel low-traffic-volume on-street cycling facilty. In particular, consider making Percy Street a two-way cycling facility with southbound cyclists mixed with traffic on sharrow-marked streets, and northbound cyclists in a painted counter flow lane along the east curb that is well marked as a no-stopping zone.

Obviously, there are many details to be worked out, but we are attempting to address the most salient issues so that this plan can be drawn up and considered as a credible alternative to the current unsatisfactory four lane carbuncle now in place.

Here are some more specific suggestions for designing this street as a two lane street:

 Bronson/Albert:  on the NW corner, widen the sidewalk right back to the property line with a retaining wall by the Juliana (consider purchasing additional land here to widen the sidewalk another 3′) and directing the sidewalk to vear NW (using some of the park space here, a stone retaining wall to hold up the sidewalk will be necessary) to align with the path on the west side of Commissioner; landscape lushly as this is a key pedestrian/cyclist link into the downtown core.

all one-way side streets approaching Bronson to be of the latest one-lane standard widths with lengthly curb extensions on the side streets (the current streets are a mish-mash of widths and many are too wide; the idea is to clearly signal that motorists have entered side streets and are not on cut-through arterials

all east-west crosswalks at all signalized intersections to be scored poured concrete; all north-south crosswalks at side streets and Primrose and Christie to be light-coloured interlocks

to reinforce the main street character and promote main-street style redevelopment, all Bronson sidewalks to be brick or coloured pavers, with appropriate celebratory fixtures at intersections

when laying out utilities, try to position manholes not on crosswalk locations; and fire hydrants not along the parking bays

Of course, there will be much consultation expected with respect to landscaping, ped lighting, overhead lighting, tree locations, etc but for now the above material should be sufficient to layout a street geometry for consideration by the traffic engineers and the larger community.

Recall also a previous suggestion that the road be restriped in August in the new layout for a trial period before reconstruction begins.

3 thoughts on “Another Bronson Plan

  1. Traffic "engineers" (and most folks) don't like to deviate from that with which they are familiar. It is far easier to draw up a road that has been done ten times already, and for which you already have done the math. Plus, most people (not us) don't tend to criticize you if you've done something tried and true but people will get on your case for doing something new. Have a look at Meadowlands, recently dug up to install new sewers and lampposts. In rebuilding, they could have so easily installed a bike lane component because the street is hugely wide. But they did not.

  2. I'm curious why you are recommending brick sidewalks. It appears to me that they are a waste of manpower (ie: concrete can be poured faster), and unless someone steps up and says "yes, laying brick is a make work project during the recession", I don't feel that the extra cost is worth the difference in feel.– Justin

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