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Morning bike flow off the Johnson Street Bridge

As council debates the Pandora and Johnson protected bike lane project (options for which I analyzed already), I figured I would see where people go when they bike off the Johnson Street Bridge into downtown. Yesterday was a cold but clear day, and the numbers showed it:

JSBcount

Caveats

First: This is a one-day, two hour count in the morning. Margin of error with short-term counts is high. Numbers are certainly higher when it is warmer and we have more tourists out.

Second: Patterns of biking shift as infrastructure changes. People don’t usually pick the fastest route to their destination, most trade-off of distance for comfort (how much distance for how much comfort is a subject of a great deal of studies, including this great one [PDF] by Jennifer Dill at PSU). So building the new protected bike lanes on Pandora and possibly Johnson will shift biking patterns considerably, as I pointed out the other day with Dill’s later research on the new protected bike lanes in various US cities. See the large percentage of riders in blue below:

DillComfort-2

Safe, comfortable, convenient: analysis of the Pandora St Protected Bike Lane options

The era of modern, protected bike lanes is finally coming to Victoria, as the City of Victoria looks to close a gap along Pandora St from Cook St to the Johnson St Bridge. Staff have recommending a trio of different options (PDF) but not much else to help guide a decision. Looking at the wealth of modern research on biking out there, what does council need to know before they make a decision? Turns out, nearly everybody who studies this agrees: we need bikeways that are safe, comfortable and convenient. How do the three options for Pandora stack up?

Context

Running right through downtown, the Pandora corridor connects the major north-south streets with the Johnson St Bridge. Crucially for people riding bikes, it is a natural eastward extension of the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.

PandoraPBL-ortho

Modern Research

Thankfully, thanks to the long lag between getting our first protected bike lane in the CRD, we have a wealth of research to draw from, including an excellent report by Jennifer Dill and others at Portland State University. She looked at the all the various protected bike lanes in the US, and did a huge amount of research into ridership, comfort, perceptions and other factors. I strongly recommend you read  the final report: Lessons from the Green Lanes: Evaluating Protected Bike Lanes in the U.S. I will draw from it below as I compare each of the three options.

Safety

Biking is very safe. Even when forced to mix it up with cars, biking is still about as safe as nearly any other way of moving. But that doesn’t mean the current Pandora is as safe as it could be. Multi-lane roads with high speed like Pandora are probably the most dangerous place to ride currently. Bicycles have to mix with cars, heavy trucks and buses, not a recipe for high comfort. Pedestrians are also in conflict with vehicles turning right.

 

mixing-zone-birdseye

Mixing zone from NACTO Bikeway Design Guidelines

Of the three options, Option 3 has so-called mixing-zones as can be seen to the right. Not only does this create a potential rear-end collision zones, people riding bikes simply find them less comfortable and useful.

 

DillComfort-1

Comfort

Comfort and perceived safety are strong determinants for the Interested but Concerned population on whether or not they ride. Unsurprisingly, the two fully signalized  options will likely generate the highest ridership gains, especially with helping car drivers choose biking. Fully signalized options not only attract more riders, they also saw twice as many people change to biking than any other design.

DillComfort-2

Convenience

Biking is often the fastest way to travel through an urban area, especially in a downtown where speed is determined more by intersections than the streets themselves. Here the two-way design offers significant speed advantages over either of one-way designs. Bike riders wishing to travel east along Pandora to the major employers or shops along the street need only cross a single intersection just east of the Johnson St Bridge, while either one-way design forces riders to wait two or three light cycles at Wharf Street.

JSBintersection

Number of lights to be crossed with one-way vs two-way

 

Conclusion

It is pretty clear, once you lay it all out, you get one option: a two-way protected bike lane on Pandora stands out as the best option. Mixing zones in Option 3 are less comfortable and get less riders, while the ease and convenience of a two-way on Pandora with Option 1 can’t be beat.

Putting BikeBC funding in context

Bike infrastructure in the CRD is built in fits and starts, much of it done with grants from other levels of government. Usually these grants are announced with little background information about the projects and where they are in the region, or what has come before. Today’s ICBC announcement of funding around the CRD is case in point, the tweet shows a picture of Bay St at Chamber, with no mention of the additional bike lanes and other work the City of Victoria has done in recent years.

So I thought I would do up a few quick maps of the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure’s BikeBC Cycling Infrastructure Partnerships Program (CIPP) funding for 2015 in the CRD, to show how they fit into the larger regional picture.

First, of the 20 projects throughout BC, how much of the funding went to each of the economic regions?

2015BikeBCFundingChartandMapWhen you slice up pie by population, you find that funding doesn’t fully match population, with the large projects in Kelowna skewing their percentage upwards, while Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley RD were much lower. The CRD does not badly, getting 10.1% of the funding despite being only 8.2% of the population (2011 numbers, Census Canada).

The Projects:

Three municipalities received funding this round: North Saanich, Oak Bay and Sooke. All three could be described as gap-closing projects, connecting existing bike infrastructure better together, although the density of our bike network means that nearly all projects could be reasonably described as gap-closing.

North Saanich

This bike lane project extends existing work on West Saanich Rd and helps like the Ardmore neighbourhood to the airport Flight Path. North Saanich has been looking for funding for this section for some time, after being turned down for Regional Significant Project Funds in 2014.

2015WestSaanichBikeLanesOak Bay

Helping close the gap between Oak Bay and UVic up the Foul Bay/Henderson corridor, this project is actually a joint Oak Bay/Saanich project, as it ties together the work that Saanich will be doing further west in 2015 on Lansdowne and Camosun College. The reason this was a sole Oak Bay project as although Foul Bay straddles the border, Oak Bay is responsible for the entire roadway for Foul Bay Rd to the Saanich border (although Saanich is responsible for the curb, gutter and sidewalk). This doesn’t fully close the gap up Foul Bay hill, as there is still a short section of bike lane to be finished between Middowne and Lansdowne.

2015FoulBayIntersection

Sooke

The need for a connection from the Galloping Goose Regional Trail to Sooke has been long requred, something Sooke has looked into for years, with a long-term plan to connect via a bridge over the Sooke River (PDF). For the immediate future, this bike lane down Sooke River Road will help connect the Goose better to downtown Sooke, for tourists and visitors alike.

2015SookeGGConnection

(Final note: First post in a long time. My contract with the CRD recently ended, so I have been teaching myself QGIS. All maps in this post made with entirely Open Source software: QGIS, Inkscape and LibreOffice)

CRD gets federal gas tax money for PCMP implementation

Finally announced, the CRD recently received $780,950 from the Government of Canada’s Gas Tax Fund transfer to implement various part of the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) recently completed Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan (PCMP). The full announcement can be found on the Canada News Centre or from the CRD’s 2013 Media Releases.

Excitingly, this means a whole series of pilot projects for all the “E”‘s from the PCMP, including Engineering aka infrastructure such as:

Bike activated warning signals
Such as HAWK beacons

HAWK signal

HAWK signal (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Advisory bike lanes (Minneapolis has a few)

Advisory Bike Lane in Minneapolis

Advisory Bike Lane in Minneapolis (Photo credit: City of Minneapolis)

Traffic calming for bike boulevards

Traffic barrier at Haultain and Shelbourne

Traffic barrier at Haultain and Shelbourne (Personal photo)

 

Other engineering projects include solar-powered signage, automated count stations, and secure lock-up systems that support dual-mode trips such as cycling and transit. The “soft” E’s including Education and Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation aren’t left behind either. Should be fun times!

(Full Disclosure: I work for CRD Regional & Strategic Planning and am the Bicycle Count Coordinator for the CRD)

Why is it so quiet here?

Any astute reader of my blog will have quickly discovered they have mostly become a non-reader of my blog over the past six months or so. Sorry about that, but I wanted to explain my it is so.

First, I am now crazy busy between my two jobs. I was promoted in July at Malatest, from Surveyor to Supervisor. While this was a great promotion, it meant I almost doubled the hours per week I work there.

Second, and far more importantly, my other job with CRD Regional Planning. I deeply enjoy my job there and I do interesting work there, such as running the Regional Bicycle Count program, and challenging work, such as helping with the Regional Deer Management Strategy, but with that work comes a little bit more care in what I can say, when I can say it.

So I am not going away, I will just be a little bit quieter than usual.

Gordon Head Moon Festival is back for a second year

Tomorrow night, the 29th, come out to the Gordon Head Moon Festival in Lambrick Park in Saanich. Hosted by the ICA, formerly of Luminara, and Saanich, this is great community event. Lantern making starts at 3pm, with the show at 6pm onwards. See you there.

More details a href=”http://www.icavictoria.org/arts”here/a

Beyond the Haultain bikeway: Cedar Hill Rd through to Vancouver St.

Beyond the Haultain bikeway is the rest of my route to work, along the City’s of Victoria’s bikeways through to Vancouver St.

@Bay St.

Like the other busy road without an barrier, Foul Bay Rd., Bay St. badly needs a barrier. There is enough road width and the hill just to the west makes the sightlines terrible here.

along Walnut St. and Chambers St.

These are nice quite residential roads with a few small pavement issues, so not much needs to be done here. I would mention that in the spirit of small details matter, I want to give a shoutout to the City of Victoria Engineering Department. They added small ramps at the northern end of Chambers St. where it is closed off to remove the bump that comes from crossing the two sidewalks. A nice little touch!

on Caledonia from Cook St. to Chambers St.

Another place of truly terrible pavement. This stretch rivals Haultain St. in Oak Bay for sheer terribleness.

@ Cook St.

Another challenging road crossing due to the number of vehicles that travel through this intersection (although I suspect a full intersection count would show most of them turn left and travel northbound on Cook St.)

on Caledonia from Cook St. to Vancouver St.

There is a lot of bicycle traffic and a lot of car traffic too. Lots of vehicles head north Vancouver St. and then turn east onto Caledonia St. and a fair number are already travelling along Caledonia. A few speed humps might make the traffic a bit calmer (although the major issue is actually the narrow roadway and the traffic is already moving pretty slow anyway)

@ Vancouver St.

Given the City of Victoria is discussing a plaza on Vancouver St. beside Royal Athletic Park anyway, fully closing this intersection to all through motor vehicle traffic might just be the thing needed. A less radical solution would be close this intersection to east-bound traffic. This would allow people to drive right up to the southern entrance of Royal Athletic Park but remove the commuting traffic onto other streets.

There is one possible unintended consequence of this: increased motor vehicle traffic on Vancouver St. This would need to be carefully monitoring and mitigated for if it does appear.

I plan on doing a similar set of posts for the Vancouver St. bikeway, so stay tuned!

Haultain bikeway: from Richmond to Cedar Hill Rd

Today we deal with the section fully within the City of Victoria. There are two distinct pieces to this section. The first runs from Richmond to Shelbourne and is typified by narrow roadway with diverters at either end and very low traffic volume. The section further west from Shelbourne is quite different. The roadway is wider, there is a bus route running down this section (Route 22), there is more vehicle traffic and in the middle, Haultain Corners, a commercial village.

@ Richmond Rd.

The through bicycle traffic here is rising and the barrier is just too narrow here. It only allows a single bike through in either direction and badly needs to be widened to allow a second crossing space. The major challenge is lack of road space to widen it properly.

@ Shelbourne Rd

Like the barrier at Richmond, this one is just too narrow for the peak hour bicycle traffic through it. A third opening through it would make a big difference (especially as cyclists have very different travel speeds).

@ Fernwood St.

This is a busy four-way stop with a fair amount of traffic in both directions, which makes it hard to do anything.

0n Haultain from Shelbourne to Cedar Hill Rd

This is the least pleasant part of the whole trip (save the crossing) because of the higher number of cars and occasional bus. There isn’t much that could be done here due to the space rquirmenets of trucks and buses. Sharrows might help, but research on them has shown them to be mixed and most of the time there are at least two or three cyclists on the road already.

 

 

Nine years ago: TravelChoices recommends crossing barrier on Foul Bay at Haultain

Almost nine years ago, the CRD’s TravelChoices was released. Amongst the many documents released was Working Paper #3, the Bicycle Strategy. Part of that strategy is this little gem:

Key crossings on shared bicycle routes include Haultain Street at Foul Bay Road

(Page 20 of the PDF, TravelChoices Working Paper #3 [PDF])

Even then it was seen a critical link. There is also this little gem:

Within the scope of the Bicycle Strategy it is not possible to identify appropriate crossing treatments for specific locations — selection of crossing treatments will be undertaken at a later date, by the CRD and municipalities, in consultation with cyclists and other stakeholders.

To the best of my knowledge, this has never been undertaken.

In fact, a quick glance through the list of recommended crossing improvements, a few minor improvements have been made to Galloping Goose and Lochside Trail crossings, but the only on-street improvements have been done by the City of Victoria. Specifically both of the two bike boxes recommended have been been built:

  1. Off Wharf across the Johnson St. Bridge (Google Streetview link)
  2. Where Government merges into Douglas (Google Streetview link).

Until recently, they were the only bike boxes anywhere in the CRD (a third has recently been installed by the City on Harbour Rd. as people turn eastbound onto Esquimalt Rd, also designed for crossing the Johnson St. Bridge [Google Streetview link, doesn’t yet show the bike box])

Oak Bay’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee is blogging

Kind of late to this party, but they don’t seem to have much Google-juice (they are page 7 on my search for “Oak Bay Active Transportation”), so here it is: Oak Bay Active Transportation at Blogspot.

Their recent Complete Streets policy is a great start, here’s to many more successes for them.