A few weeks ago, the SCU met with the city and with the developers of the new 763-unit Silver Hills subdivision to discuss the proposed cycling infrastructure, which consists of a separated sidewalk level bidirectional paved bike path on the east side of the new street which runs between Bancroft Drive and Marcus Drive/the Kingsway.
At that meeting, we asked that the city look at replacing the bidirectional path with separated sidewalk-level unidirectional paths on each side of the street. We also briefly discussed their roundabout which is being proposed at the Bancroft/Bellevue/Silver Hills intersection.
A follow-up meeting is being held this Thursday.
At our general membership meeting last week, the main topic of discussion was the Silver Hills development. If you were not able to attend, we’d nevertheless like to provide you with the opportunity to give us you opinion. You can provide a comment to this post, or comment to the corresponding Facebook post.
First, a bit of background. The subdivision’s zoning and plans were approved at the Planning Committee meeting of June 25, 2012. Submitted documents are supposed to be available on the city’s website. However, the links provided don’t work. We reported this to the City last week, and hopefully, they’ll correct it soon as possible, as it looks like their whole website is affected. You may want to check periodically to see if the links have been fixed – June 25, 2012 Agenda
Additional information below is from a Minnow Lake CAN/developer open house as well as from a variety of newspaper sources (since the city’s website links can’t currently provide them):
- A traffic study was done and the 265,000-square-foot project would add a maximum of about 400 vehicles to the roads every morning, and 500 in the evening. (source: Northern Life article)
- The above newspaper article indicates that there are two roundabouts being proposed – at each end of the new drive; our understanding is that there is only one at the Bancroft/Bellevue/Silver Hills intersection.
- Silver Hills runs north/south in direction. There are houses and driveways on the west side of the street (although not many), and the backs of houses from another street over on the east side. The plans indicate that the bidirectional path would be on the east side of the street, with the sidewalk between it and the street. There would be a buffer between the curbs and sidewalks for snow removal.
- The street would consist of two automobile lanes with a central turning lane in the section where the houses will be built.
- There will be sidewalks on both sides of the street.
- There will be intersections with other streets in the subdivision that will intersect at 90 degree angles. These will be standard intersections, possibly with stop signs.
- The street will have a designated speed limit of 50 km/h.
- Parking will be allowed, but not in the section where the turning lane is constructed. This is because of width issues – there is not enough room to allow parking in the area where the turning lane will be located.
- While on the path, cyclists will be expected to dismount at all intersections and entries/exits which includes the roundabout.
- There will be a grade of up to 6 degrees on sections of the street, which will cause south-bound cyclists to travel at a significantly faster speed than cyclists who are north-bound.
- The Official Plan’s Transportation Schedule shows the street as a proposed road, but does not indicate what road category it will fall into; our assumption is that this will be a collector road, and not a local road.
- The City has not said whether they expect that buses or trucks will be using the road.
- The City indicated that they will be putting in traffic-calming measures, but could not tell us what they are.
Some of our additional assumptions:
- As noted above, this will be a collector road, not a local road. FYI, the function of a collector road is “Connecting neighbourhoods or Connecting a neighbourhood with an arterial road.Trip origin and/or destination along it or an intersecting local street. Traffic movement and land access of equal importance.” Access includes “Intersections with other roads; regulated access from adjacent property”. Right-of-way width is 20-35 meters. Daily traffic volume is 1,000-12,000 vehicles per day. Speed design is 50-80 km/h. Minimum intersection spacing is 60 metres. Other Regulations are “On-street parking is generally permitted. Goods movement restricted except for that having origin or destination along the road.”
- Unlike the city seems to be promoting, we believe that the road will service more than local traffic, and that it will be used by commuters wanting to get to the city core and the South End. Unless prohibited or discouraged by traffic calming measures, this could include trucks. We aren’t confident in the results of their traffic study.
After the meeting with the city, we were able to get possession of an invaluable guide – Planning and Design for Pedestrians and Cyclists – A Technical Guide. It is published by the Velo Quebec Association in 2010. Many thanks to the Sudbury and District Health Unit and the Rainbow Routes Association for lending us a paper copy of the guide, as it is not available electronically. Info that follows is taken from the Velo Quebec website.
For over 40 years, Vélo Québec, a non-profit organization, has played an important role on the Quebec cycling scene. It constantly encourages the use of bicycles – whether for recreation, tourism or as a clean, active mode of transportation – in order to improve the environment, health and wellbeing of citizens.
First published in 1990 as the Technical Handbook of Bikeway Design, the guide is a respected and valued source of information for municipal and planning professionals. Their third and expanded edition contains an extraordinary amount of essential information for planning successful, effective bikeways, with the key information on various topics: paths, lanes, shared roadways, intersection design, multiuse trails and infrastructure. maintenance. New concepts are also explained: traffic calming, contraflow bike lanes, bike boulevards, etc. Their newest guide incorporates the latest developments in street design. It is based on winning formulas that have proven successful in a number of communities in Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as on the insights of the various experts involved.
The guide was used to drive discussions at our last general membership meeting. As a result of reviewing this information, and discussing the issues with our members, we are proposing the following:
The current bidirectional bike path configuration is that of an off-road bike path, which is typically used by recreational users in areas like parks, conservation areas, and other green spaces. It is not typically used in urban areas unless it is part of a cycling route whose main goal is to connect neighbourhoods. While this path will be servicing cyclists coming to and from Minnow Lake to the big box stores on Marcus Drive, this street will also serve as a local street for the new subdivision. The addition of a roundabout at the south-end of the path severely compromises the safety of cyclists needing to enter or leave the path. There is also the matter of grade, which could cause conflicts between cyclists that are travelling up and down the path. We are therefore asking that it be replaced with the urban standard of two unidirectional paved paths running in the same direction as traffic, but separated from traffic with a curb or with delineators. If it is to be separated by a curb, it would be sidewalk-level. If it is to be separated by delineators, it can be at road level so the delineators can be removed in winter to facilitate snow plowing. The configuration will be the standard “street cross-section of sidewalk, bike path, street, bike path, sidewalk” in order to provide a safe and comfortable environment for both pedestrians and cyclists. Right-of-way priority will be given to cyclists who are proceeding straight. Signage and street calming measures will be implemented, especially at intersections, in order to ensure that motorists are aware of cyclists using the path.
Issues: The options of on-road bike lanes or paths could pose problems with the widths required as parking will be allowed on the street and there will be a turning lane on part of the street. The city will need to tell us what is feasible. Some of our members indicate that they would prefer on-road bike lanes or sharrows to encourage more cyclists to feel comfortable riding on our streets. A larger number of members have indicated that they would prefer separated bike paths, which are safer and will encourage more cyclists to use the bikeway.
While the SCU does not object to roundabouts in Sudbury, it is concerned that the implementation of a roundabout in this neighbourhood may have an impact on the use of the existing cycling lanes and on traffic volumes which may compromise cyclists. Proper education and enforcement will be necessary at the roundabout and along the corridor, to ensure that current speed limits are maintained, that cycling lanes are not infringed upon by drivers, and that drivers give proper right-of-way to cyclists who will need to merge with traffic. As proponents of active transportation, we are also concerned about the impact on pedestrians if motorists are given priority. If a roundabout is constructed, it should follow the design standards of the small modern roundabout, with a radius of under 15 m. Approaches will be perpendicular to the circle, and the maximum speed limit while in the roundabout will be 20 km/h. A divisional island will be located on each street to funnel and slow traffic, and facilitate pedestrian crossings. Bike lanes will be discontinued prior to the circle with appropriate merge signage indicating priority for bicycles. A sidewalk will be located around the edge of the roundabout with a pedestrian-priority crosswalk perpendicular to each approach, marked with wide stripes.
Issues: Some of our members do not want a roundabout at the Bancroft/Bellevue/Silver Hills intersection as it will only exacerbate the current traffic gridlock and will be unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, especially as this is a high-pedestrian traffic area, and the concept and use of roundabouts is new in Sudbury. These members are also concerned that it will negatively impact the existing bike lanes and stop cyclists from using them.
What follows is background information from the Technical Guide to support our stance:
Bike lanes are located in urban areas, preferably on streets where the speed limit is 50 km/h or less. They should never the bidirectional, because separation markings alone do not ensure enough safety for cyclists travelling against the flow of traffic. Only bike paths separated from motor vehicle traffic by physical barriers may, under certain circumstances, be bidirectional. (p. 78)
As mentioned above, bike lanes may not be feasible because of the widths that would be required, especially with the turning lane and parking in the mix. Paths are also definitely safer.
Bike paths are physically separated from other traffic lanes, making them very comfortable and safe. Bike paths can be off-road, on-road or at sidewalk level.
Off-road bike paths
Off-road bike paths are separate bikeways that are designed for cyclists but that may also be shared with other users on wheels (in-line skaters, non-motorized scooters and wheelchair users).
On-road bike paths
On-road bike paths are constructed along the curb or sidewalk. They are separated from automobile and parking lanes by physical barriers such as delineators, medians or walls.
On-road bike paths are at least 1.5 m wide. If they are constructed between the parking lane and the sidewalk, at least 0.5 m is allowed for opening car doors. This clearance can also be assured by adding a median or widening the bike path.On-road bike paths should be preferably be unidirectional. Bidirectional paths offer offer effective safety between intersections but complicate traffic in intersections. In fact, they increase the number of conflict points between bicycles and turning vehicles. Furthermore, cyclists riding against the flow of traffic may surprise pedestrians and motorists at intersections. Lastly, transitions should be planned at the ends of the path to prevent cyclists from continuing to ride against the flow of traffic. Bi-directional on-road bike paths are acceptable in the following circumstances:
– on a street without intersections or without access on one side e.g. along a waterway or rail line, where the lack of intersections and access eliminates conflict with automobiles
– on one-way streets with limited number of intersections and driveways (usually not more than one every 300 m and preferably a single motor traffic lane
– on two-way streets where left-turns are prohibited and with a limited number of intersections and driveway entrances (ideally, not more than one every 300 m).
In the last two scenarios, parking must be banned along the street with the bike path over a section long enough to ensure adequate stopping sight distances for motorists crossing the path. This ban must be strictly enforced. When the path is on a main street that does not have stop signs at intersections with secondary streets, parking must be prohibited for several dozen metres on both sides of the crossing. On the other hand, for a path on a street with stop signs, both motorists and cyclists are required to stop. As a result, there are no sight problems when a parking ban is applied at least 5 m from the intersection.
Sidewalk-level bike paths
Bicycle and automobile traffic can be physically separated by constructing a bike path at sidewalk level, i.e., separated from the street by being raised above it. Such paths are usually located between the roadway and the section reserved for pedestrians. They are defined either by markings or by different surfacing. This layout suits pedestrians, who prefer to walk as far from the roadway as possible. It also prevents the tunnel effect, created when bicycles and automobiles travel on either side of the sidewalk.
Sidewalk-level bike paths are not advised for streets with many driveway entrances, especially on commercial properties, because of the potential conflict points with entering and exiting vehicles. The undulating profile that results from the driveway curb cuts and the lack of visibility caused by vegetation around the driveways (hedges, for example) add to the problem.
However, these paths offer excellent safety and comfort between intersections when there are no driveway entrances. At intersections, appropriate measures minimize the risk of conflict points between automobiles and bicycles. Essentially, these measures are as follows:
– Strengthen right-of-way regulations (cyclists travelling straight ahead have priority over turning automobiles) with explicit and repeated bicycle-and-chevron markings or coloured surfacing in the crossing or raised bicycle crossings.
– Limit speeds through appropriate bylaws and with traffic-calming measures such as tight curb radii, curb extensions, raised pedestrian crossings, etc.
– Ensure good visibility by prohibiting parking near intersections and, if necessary, add curb extensions or bollards to prevent inappropriate parking. Street furniture that might obstruct the field of vision should be avoided.
Sidewalk-level bike paths are usually unidirectional to allow cyclists to travel in the same direction as vehicles in the adjacent lane. A bidirectional path complicates traffic at intersections and is appropriate only under special circumstances.
Sidewalk-level bike paths are located between automobile lanes and the section reserved for pedestrians. Recommended widths are as follows:
– Curb: 15 cm high. Where parking is prohibited, a raised bike path with a 7.5 cm mountable curb allows cyclists to use the street to pass slower cyclists. A second curb separates the path and the sidewalk.
– Minimum clearance: 0.5 m to allow for opening car doors where parking is permitted.
– Bike path: 1.0 m to 1.5 m wide
– Pedestrian section: 1.8 m wide or wider.
The minimum values apply when pedestrian and cycling traffic is light, and clearance on the pedestrian side is ensured by the presence of the walkway. The presence of street furniture (lampposts, parking meters, signposts, benches, trash cans, etc.) requires extra width that takes into account their use and the space needed to maintain a minimum clearance of 0.5 m on both sides of the path. The path must be separated from the space reserved for pedestrians by surfacing or a different texture that is detectable by the visually impaired. The simplest solution is to use asphalt for the path and concrete or paving stones for the pedestrian walkway. Asphalt offers better rideability and encourages cyclists to stay on the path. (p 80-82)
Modern roundabouts are intersections with three or more arms and a central island around which motor vehicles and bicycles travel in a counterclockwise direction. Priority is given to traffic already in the roundabout, eliminating the need to control access. Thus, no stop signs or traffic signals are used.
A landscaped centre island limits the horizon and obstructs the view of traffic on the opposite side of the circle, forcing drivers to slow down. The island must not contain any features likely to draw pedestrians or cyclists. To accommodate the larger turning radius of longer trucks, the outer section of the island is an apron that can be mounted by truck wheels but that is too high for automobiles. This apron is made of materials that contrast with the surrounding surface (concrete, paving stones or coloured asphalt).
A trumpet-shaped divisional island in the centre of the approaches narrows the roundabout entrance and exit, separates incoming and outgoing traffic and diverts and slows entering vehicles.
Because there are no stop signs or traffic signals, modern roundabouts have greater capacity and better flow than conventional intersections when there are few pedestrians. Moreover, the smaller number of conflict points, limited speed and acute crossing angle reduce the number and severity of collisions. On the other hand, modern roundabouts entail longer crossing distances for pedestrians and cyclists, and may jeopardize their safety if the geometry allows excessive speeds. Visually impaired pedestrians may also find roundabouts disorienting.
Small roundabouts are found in urban areas. Their small radius (under 15 m) and approaches lying perpendicular to the circle and tight radius force drivers to slow to 20 km/h or 30 km/h. This facilitates the crossing of the approaches by pedestrians and the navigation of the circle by cyclists.
Facilities for pedestrians include a sidewalk around the edge of the roundabout and a crosswalk perpendicular to each approach, marked with a wide stripes. The crosswalk intersects with the divisional island and is flush with its surface. This island provides a refuge for pedestrians and lets them cross the approach in two stages, simplifying decision making and increasing safety. When the sidewalk meets the crosswalk it must incorporate textured surfacing, grooves or tactile paving to assist visually impaired users. The same treatment is used to identify the divisional island.
In small roundabouts, cyclists share the single-lane circle with motorists. On the approaches, the bike lane is discontinued prior to the circle. Cyclists merge with automobile traffic, as the roadway narrows and can no longer accommodate side-by-side travel. Otherwise, cyclists will be pushed up against the curb at the entrance of the roundabout.
The intelligibility of a roundabout is a safety factor, since it lets pedestrians, cyclists and motorists quickly determine their direction and the motion of other users. Central and divisional islands can be used to clearly mark the circle, as well as its entrances and exists. A line around the edge of the circle, with a broken line at the entrances, guides cyclists and motorists as they navigate the circle and acts as a reference point for entering the roundabout. Wide stripes clearly show the location of pedestrian and cyclist crossings.
The central island is raised to restrict views. The rest of the roundabout is free of any obstacles so as to ensure the best possible visibility. The geometry, especially at the exits, slows vehicles enough to provide the required sufficient stopping sight distance in advance of the crosswalk. (p. 102-104)