New Preston Separated Bike track

Preston Street and West Wellington were reconstructed several years ago with much improved pedestrian facilities and nice landscaping [every street should be similar]. However, neither included bike lanes or bike tracks (tracks were recently constructed on most of Churchill Avenue south of Byron).  Instead, people who cycle were viewed as “recreational” , able to be diverted off the main street onto side streets (eg Armstrong) or the Trillium Pathway. That people who cycle might want to shop or eat was underrated, and still is by some BIA’s.

I was surprised, therefore, to see this separated bike track appear just days ago on Preston, at the Albert end:IMG_3743


It may qualify as the shortest bike track in the City, maybe even in the world, as it is about 100 feet long.

There are sharrows leading from the centre lane of the [temporary] Preston Extension, across the intersection, to the track:


The sharrows were originally painted leading from the curb lane on the far side of the intersection, but that is a right turn lane, and the sharrows were erased and repainted.

The track on Preston was formerly a bulb out, and the slope onto the track and off it is a bit rough:



At the “exit” end of the track, the cyclist arrives at a bus bay, which is where the road surface is widest, allowing a “merge” back into typical ride-in-the-gutter scenario. The bus bay is not without some conflict potential of its own, but buses are 15 minutes apart and the professional OC Transpo drivers have excellent forward views of anyone one the track.

It remains to be seen if this is a temporary track, jerry-rigged out of the former bulb out, to compensate for a scarily-narrow southbound receiving lane on Preston [so scary, I rode on it only once, after that I used the sidewalk].  So maybe it will disappear in 2018 when Albert is narrowed back down to four lanes of traffic + bike facilities, or maybe it will be permanent, as this drawing of the post-2018 Albert-Preston intersection shows a short bike track on Preston to allow people who cycle on the Albert bike tracks to “transition” to mixed traffic again:



In looking at how people who cycle are supposed to merge back into Preston traffic, I think the current track got it right, compared to the ‘dump into the lane’ version proposed in the 2018 plan.

(note that the 2018 plan pre-dated the legal ability to construct cross rides, so only a cross walk is shown. Local activists will lobby for better crossings.)



2 thoughts on “New Preston Separated Bike track

  1. So I wasn’t totally blind last week, this IS a new arrangement on the SW corner of Preston and Scott!

    Now that the bikepath along the river under the Parliament is temporarily closed, I have been cutting across the City. Do you know why we have those (concrete? granite?) grey borders next to the curb on some main roads, such as Wellington and Sussex? They are terribly broken up and there are deep cracks between these “borders” and the rest of the road surface, just in the section where bicycles go. I end up traversing much further into the lane than what is comfortable, with big fat SUVs or STO buses zooming by too close. I am always worried that I’d be thrown into the traffic if I get caught in one of those cracks in the surface. And I also wonder if this treatment is not more expensive than regular asphalt. Is this something the NCC decides to use to make roads more aesthetically pleasing?

    1. My guess is that the granite curbs were set in concrete to keep them stable, plus the concrete was dual-purposed to serve as a gutter for the catch basins. There is little in the way of mess around the catch basins along there, in contrast to most other streets.

      Asphalt as a material is very difficult to “edge” properly in a way that survives our freeze-thaw cycles and heavy traffic. What you’re seeing at the gutter-road interface also happens at curb-road interfaces on many other roads. Ideally there’d be half a lane of paved but unused road (or shoulder) from the vehicle lane to the curb/edge where the vibration “waves” from passing vehicles dampen out before reaching the edge and causing the edge to crumble; in that sense, bike lanes and paved shoulders are a benefit to the city in that they lessen edge-of-asphalt problems. But here on Sussex and Mackenzie it just happens to be worse since the interface is further into the lane and more noticeable since it’s right where cyclists want to travel.

      It is definitely more expensive, and it was done for aesthetic reasons as part of Confederation Boulevard, though in fairness the granite curbs and concrete gutters do seem to hold up better than concrete curbs and asphalt right up to them. Again, “ideally”, we’d probably be better off paving our roads with something less prone to cracking, like concrete pavers.

Comments are closed.