29 SEPTEMBER 2017
by Lukas Stevens
|One of Montreal’s busiest bicycle intersections with over 10,000 bicycles daily. It features a protected two-way cycle track underpass but unfortunately makes a detour that takes bicycles off a main-street destination.|
Lukas Stevens is a Planning and Data Analyst at Copenhagenize Design Company’s Montreal office, where he works on cycling network plans for many of our North American clients. He is originally from Hamburg, Germany and has a Masters in Urban Planning from McGill University.
At Copenhagenize Design Co., we are both optimists and realists. We know that the bicycle revolution in our urban centres is well on its way and that best-practice bicycle infrastructure as seen in Copenhagen is the optimal solution to accommodate the hordes of people of all ages and abilities who are capable and ready to take to the world’s streets on their bikes.
Many of the arguments brought forward by skeptics disputing that Copenhagen-style bicycle infrastructure would work in their cities have proven to be untrue. Too expensive? In Denmark and other places we have seen that a high bicycle modal share actually saves society money in the long run! There’s not enough space on roads for such wide bike lanes? Not if you start looking at the amount of people a street can move rather than just the number of cars. Stores suffer when removing car parking? Actually we see bike lanes improving business. Our city will never have over 50% of citizens on bikes like in Copenhagen? Maybe not, but 40 years ago neither did Copenhagen, and why couldn’t your city get to 15% instead?
While we are happy to see more and more cities slowly jump onboard the bicycle urbanism train, we still need to ensure immediate safety for bicycle users in our cities today, especially in contexts where protected infrastructure may not be politically feasible quite yet. Here, we want to help tackle the question:
What small short-term improvements can be made in cities to improve bicycle users’ safety until there is political will to redesign our streets for people?
Intersections, for all road users, are the most critical points in a street network as a bicycle user moves through the city. Here in Montreal, for example, a 2005 study showed that 58% of all collisions involving bicycle users happened at intersections. More recent data shows a similar picture. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean that cycling is inherently dangerous, but while cars and pedestrians have their own traffic lights, signs and paint that guide them through the intersection, in most cities bicycle users are often left to their own devices.
In Copenhagen we see that small, low cost adjustments to intersections that can be easily implemented in essentially every context and vastly improve the safety for bicycle users. Pulled-back stop lines for cars, coloured paint through the intersection, protected corners at streets with heavy right-turn car traffic, and designated traffic lights – Copenhagen shows us that these small changes, which are cost effective and in most cases not particularly controversial have a huge positive effect for bicycle users’ safety.
The city of Montreal, home of our North American Copenhagenize office, is the perfect context to demonstrate how easily intersections can be retrofitted with Copenhagen-inspired bicycle infrastructure design. Recently, the local borough of Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie has added a number of temporary plastic posts for improved intersection protection from motor vehicles. These measures are cheap and the City is able to install several of them within a week. Montreal has a diverse collection of facility and infrastructure types built over decades of ever-changing design standards. There is no place this is more noticeable than at intersections where these different types of infrastructure sometimes clash. Sharrows meet bi-directional cycle tracks, bi-directionals on a one-way street meet bi-directionals on a two-way street, one-way streets with a contraflow lane meet other one-way streets without a contraflow lane, and so on. Often the transitions follow little conventional traffic logic:
|Despite new Copenhagen-style handlebar bling, this Montreal intersection suffers from severe two-way to one-way cycle track confusion link to original article|