Temporary transit station puts cars first, part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the car-first infrastructure at the Lyon LRT station entrance. Money appears to be available to spend on cars, but not pedestrians, even when building transit infrastructure.

This save-a-penny attitude, when it comes to pedestrians, prevails in the city’s rail implementation office. Down on the Flats, Preston was recently extended out to the War Museum. The extension is temporary. It is wise to be frugal when building throw-away infrastructure, as this road will be rolled up and trashed in two years.

But the penny pinching didn’t include narrower car lanes. No siree, they are full width, and the freeway-like atmosphere is evidenced by the sudden acceleration of every motor vehicle as it turns onto the road. Wide open spaces! Wide road! Gun it ! Broad shoulders if you happen to miss the road ! Even the turn WB lane from Albert onto the temporary road is extraordinarily wide, reducing the pedestrian safety island to lilliputian size. Classic transference of risk from motorists to pedestrians.

And that is at a (temporary) transit station where pedestrians are expected.

Lots of pedestrians.

To save a few dollars, there is no pedestrian sidewalk on the west side of the new road. There are bits of sidewalks at the intersections, but all they do is deliver peds onto a 24″ wide paved shoulder between a deep open ditch and the rushing cars on the west side.

It’s not fun to walk on this, especially when your back is to the cars coming behind you.

The planners insisted on saving the cost of this few hundred feet of sidewalk and instead expect people from the west side of Preston to cross the intersections two extra times to get to the westbound platform  (no consideration of additional risk for that, is there?).

Of course, many walkers don’t want to enjoy waiting on the corners for the lights to change, or wend their way thru barrelling traffic. In the trade off between crossing a busy street two extra times or walking the shoulder, quite a number choose to walk the shoulder. I do not walk alone.

Out at the intersection of the transitway, where the shelters are installed for the duration of 2015 (then they perambulate to new locations), the city saved a (very) few dollars by not having the sidewalk on the NW side go right from the corner all the 50′ or so to the transit platform. Instead, pedestrians walk downslope, along the shoulder of the road where the buses loom up very close at hand and very high and intimidatingly so, and then we have to walk upslope to attain the platform.

It’s just like walking through a hole.

And this, friends, is the city’s esteemed opinion of how valuable transit patrons are.

At  a major transitway station.

Could the contempt be better expressed?

But wait, there’s more !

The intersection of the transitway and Preston Extension (doesn’t anyone recall the real name of that street ? it does have a name!) is signalized. With traffic lights. And ped lights. And there are scads of peds crossing the intersection on all four legs to get from one station platform to another. Sometimes line ups of them. (I went out to catch the 97 at 3.30am a few days ago and I wasn’t the only person out there!)

And you know what? The ped lights aren’t automatic.

No siree, you have push a button and request a walk light.

Beg for a light.

Supplicate yourself.

Of course, many peds just cross without the light, or at the stale end of the traffic light when they realize they will never get a ped crossing signal.

Could things be worse?

Well of course they can !

Recall that the new roadworks across the Flats and around the relocated LeBreton Station only have curbs at corners and the platforms. For the rest of the “in-between” stuff the “sidewalks” are merely paved shoulders. As such, they are flush with the road surface. The highest point is, of course, the crown or centre line of the road.

All the rain will run off to the side of the road. And get there by running over the top of the sidewalks. So pedestrian sidewalks double as road drainage surfaces.

But wait, there’s more!  The few curbed sections (for eg, at platforms) don’t have catch basins or sewers for the water. So they direct water downslope to the end of the platform, where it joins the rest of the water running off the road surface, to effectively double or triple the flow of water over the top of the sidewalk. Everyone leaving a platform will have to ford the runoff.

Get out your wellies, folks.

And in winter, when the road surfaces are constantly salted, and run off is a frequent occurrence, the salted brine will be running all winter onto the “sidewalks”. Station users will have brined-feet even when it is very cold out. I can’t imagine what this mess will be like as springtime drifts nearer.

This is patron-friendly, pedestrian-friendly planning as expressed by our lets-build-a-transit-network folks at city hall.

Much of this was foreseen. The City consulted with the local community association. There was a focus group type meeting. Shortfalls in the design were identified. But the save-a-buck when it comes to pedestrians, and spend-a-buck when it comes to motorists, won out. The “consultations” seemed steeped in tokenism. Ticking off a box on someone’s PERT chart.

I volunteer my time for a lot of city studies, planning exercises, charettes, and public advisory groups. Often they are fun (sorry, no excuses).  I’m immature enough to be gleeful when I catch engineers and planners at some obvious bloopers. Fodder for a blog post. Sometimes input makes a difference. That’s what makes things worthwhile.

Tomorrow: and then it snowed ...


5 thoughts on “Temporary transit station puts cars first, part 2

  1. Enjoyed reading your post on the subject. You have a great pen.
    You state it as it is. We must get the city “designers” to heed input from the public. I agree that many “public meetings” for input are mere charades. There are examples of questionable design. These result more from lack of care rather than an intent to save it seems to me.

  2. Transportation Master Plan 2013
    Action 6-4: Make rapid transit stations convenient, comfortable and accessible to all users including pedestrians and cyclists
    “The City will limit pedestrian crossing distances at intersections that transit customers must cross.”


    My question: where are the consequences for the city not following its own Transportation Master Plan? How do citizens raise this to Council, to ensure there are consequences?

    Otherwise what’s the point of the plan?

  3. We all know that if someone gets hit and killed by a bus at this station, the City will be installing curbs and sidewalks the following week. Why can’t we spend that money now and save that person’s life?

Comments are closed.