The story here earlier this week on the the next phase of the Trillium MUP got 1732 views, which indicates to me a keen public interest in expanded cycling and walking infrastructure. **
My colleague Richard Eade has some more to say on the topic. First he’ll review some details of the project as planned, and then join the lament that the Phase 3 limits are so small, and doesn’t extend up the Prince of Wales as far as the traffic circle.
When the MUP hits the road:
I hope that those “Concrete Barriers” that close the ‘Road’ that was the entrance to the parking lot of the Sir John Carling Building will allow bike to ride through them. Yes, it is a lane onto private property (or as private as The Farm is), but it is still a well traveled route for bikes and pedestrians who cut through The Farm.
At the current 60 kph speed limit, this bend in the road already feels tight for many people. The speed limit from the round-about to here should be lowered to 50 kph. Going even further, since the Queen Elizabeth Drive, east (north) of Preston is now limited to 40 kph, maybe this stretch, from the bend to the Preston intersection should be signed as 40 kph to get people used to traveling slowly on the next section. This would be the transition where a lot of people would still try to travel faster than 40, but would be slowed by those few respecting the limit. Those law abiding or cautious drivers become pace cars keeping the traffic flow calmer.
A speed limit of 40 kph might also remove the ‘potential’ need for any tree removals, since people driving at a slower speed will have sufficient time to stop for cyclists and pedestrians that might be crossing the road.
Having a slower speed limit here would make the ‘Courtesy Mid-block crossings’ safer for people trapped in the central refuge while crossing. And, since I would suggest that the slower speed limit should come with appropriately narrower road lanes, we can have even wider, safer, more comfortable, refuge areas (road geometry changes with the design speed limit).
This project seems to be one where the City is trying to give the appearance that it is doing a good job of facilitating active transportation, but it is falling short of the mark. Again, this entire area is a popular walking and cycling area during the spring, summer, and fall months. Adding some cycling lanes is helpful, but what about the pedestrians; who are often traveling in family groups?
The sidewalk on the north side of POW, along the Queen Juliana (temporary) Park, is a substandard 1.7 metres wide and the one on the south (east) side, over the O-Train cut, is only 1.4 metres in width! Let’s “share the road” right of way !
I expect that the City doesn’t want to put enough money into this project to do a proper job (shades of the Booth Street Bridge). But those sidewalks should be widened to at least the City’s standard of 1.8 metres; now, while work is being done in this area. The sidewalks shouldn’t come out of the cycling budget.
The sidewalk width is not limited by a lack of Right of Way width, as can be seen by the white hatched area marked all along the south-side bike lane. The sidewalks are left to be substandard solely because the City does not want to spend the money to add a 0.4 metre wide ‘curb’ along the sidewalk to widen the walking surface. And, if the road lanes were able to be narrowed because traffic was limited to a slower speed, then that reclaimed width could be used to further widen sidewalks so that when two family groups met one would not need to step off the sidewalk for them to pass.
Do we really need to have that 1.5 metre white-hatched ‘buffer’ separating the south side bike lane from the traffic lane? It does not appear to be necessary for the other direction. Could we simply reclaim that space for wider pedestrian facilities? Could the bump-out of the ‘Courtesy’ crossing be made larger, narrowing the traffic lane, thereby slowing traffic?
Again, the City’s planners need to understand that these are well used pedestrian and cycling areas and there needs to be proper facilities for both of those groups.
How about paving the sidewalk into the Queen Juliana (temporary) Park a bit at the point where the MUP is being realigned? Pushing the sidewalk in from the edge of the road will allow people to still walk around bikes and people that are waiting to cross the road. By moving the sidewalk away from the road edge, there would also be room for a ramp for cyclists to more easily transition from the MUP to the road; without the pedestrians having to go down and up the ‘roller-coaster’ (similar widening of the MUP was done at Carling and at Beech Street).
The large yellow hatched out area in the centre of the road is just ugly left over space, but fully meets the city’s “scenic gateway” designation of the road. Why not find some non-cycling budget to join the two refuge islands and make a proper median?
There looks to be a lot of wasted, white hatched-out, space between the two ‘Courtesy mid-block crossings’ on the south side of Prince of Wales, too. Maybe the City should give some of the space to the pedestrians, and use the rest to extend the bidirectional bike lanes at least to the crossing to the Queen Juliana (temporary) Park. And protect the cycle lanes/tracks with a concrete curb, even if just nailed down like the ones along the Laurier protected bike lanes.
Maybe the twin lanes could be extended all the way to the traffic signal at the lane to the old Sir John Carling Building/Arboretum, at the bend. That would, at least, get cyclists up to the entrance to the Arboretum, although the cost of signalizing the intersection for cycle tracks might be very high. Better to save a few dollars and the cyclists land where they may?
The way that City staff have it planned, a bike from Dow’s Lake will need to ride to the Trillium crossing, cross, then ride up to the lights at the bend, then cross back to get to the Arboretum. In real-life, I don’t see that happening so staff should do the reasonable thing and make the way easy for people to get where they want to go – without them ‘having to’ ride the wrong way in the one bike lane or ride on the sidewalk.
Having both directions continue up to the signalized intersection may also reduce the number of people crossing at the ‘Courtesy’ crossings, which will improve feelings of safety and traffic flow – a win-win.
Again, on the north side at the Trillium crossing, the sidewalk should be moved back a bit further from the road edge, around a waiting area for those crossing.
As noted earlier, that 50 kph sign could read 40, to make this stretch safer for all that use it.
I appreciate that the City is ensuring that there is a fairly large waiting area on the south corner of Prince of Wales/Preston/Queen Elizabeth.
Extend the project to the roundabout:
First and foremost, the scope limits of this project should extend at least from the intersection of Preston/Prince of Wales/Queen Elizabeth Drive along Prince of Wales up to the new round-about. The round-about has been built with extra width and facilities to help people cross the roads.
Unfortunately that project, like all others undertaken by the City has a very limited scope. The Farm/Arboretum/Queen Juliana (temporary) Park/Commissioner’s Park/Dow’s Lake area is very much a pedestrian area and MUST have continuous pedestrian and cycling facilities. Having missing sections is not a good option.
Notice that the section that is missing is also the one with the bus stops. Although this is a bit of a moot point since there is very poor bus service along Prince of Wales; an infrequent summer bus and a Sunday-only winter bus.
My second point would be that the speed limit should drop to 50 kph south of the round-about. This would improve safety of those crossing the round-about. Also, where the speed decrease is planned, does not really give north-bound drivers sufficient time to reduce their speed by ‘coasting’ before they are entering a sharp-ish curve on a down-hill slope. This section of Prince of Wales Drive is a beautiful, scenic route; let people travel slowly enough to enjoy it.
– Richard Eade (with a few edits by Eric, so blame him if there are errors or omissions).
** 1732 views on April 3, the Trillium MUP phase 3
1496 views April 4 on re-branding OC or O-Bus
1443 views on March 27 on Confederation Line station renderings
Thanks for reading !