Edmonton Bikegrid: Imagining a UofA Cycletrack Minimum Grid - Part 1

This is going to be a continuation of the series of posts about purely hypothetical, future expansions of Edmonton's new cycletrack network.

So far we've looked at:

Next we will look at some options for providing a true, all-ages-and-abilities cycling grid near the University of Alberta.

This is what is currently in place:

The darker green lines here show older, reasonably high-quality cycling infrastructure. The lighter green lines show what is being installed this year: the 83ave cycletrack, and the 76ave/106st improvements. And finally, the orange lines show the quick-wins that we looked at for 110st and 111st.

Warning: this is all complete make-believe, but it doesn't have to be.

116 Street

116st running along the westside of campus currently has painted bikelanes. The city's traffic counts show 8,500 cars per day, and to put that into some context, prior to the construction of the cycletrack network downtown 103st and 106st had 4,500 and 6,500 cars per day respectively. 116st is a farily narrow road though, and the bikelanes are narrow as well. A lot of the traffic on 116st is also short-cutting either to-or-from the river, and so caution is maybe not the highest priority.

With the painted bikelanes I wouldn't bike here unless I had to, and during the winter it wouldn't even occur to me to use this route. The image shows two possible improvements.

The existing bikelanes could be protected by just adding posts. This isn't ideal though, because the bikelanes are quite narrow. Widening the bikelanes isn't really an option either though, because that would reduce the driving lanes to under 10' wide.

An alternative might be to remove the bikelanes, and instead work with the University to widen the sidewalk into a full multi-use trail. That certainly wouldn't be as cheap as just adding posts, but it would probably be more comfortable, and more reliable during the winter (which is when a lot of the University schoolyear takes place).

87 Avenue

Here is where things get more ambitious.

For all of the other cycletrack suggestions we've looked at I've tried to steal space from extra-wide lanes, or maybe by removing on-street parking. But when we get to the major roads around the University the only way to fit in a cycletrack is to remove either a driving lane or turning lane.

What we can see in this image is that the left-turn lane has been removed from 87ave, and replaced with a 2-way cycletrack. And that cycletrack would connect to the 116st bikelanes or multi-use trail that we were just looking at.

87 Avenue & 114 Street

Moving two blocks east to 114st, here the left-turn lane is removed again, and everything is shifted south (the left side in the image). The cycletrack is tucked-in between the plaza infront of the climbing-wall and the on-street parking. The north-south crosswalk here has also been updated to a shared-use crossing.

87 Avenue at 113 Street

Continuing east along 87ave, there isn't much to see here, but doesn't this look better?

Yes, this area is very busy. And yes, leftturn lanes are well-used for an hour each day. But the point of this exercise is to take something that seems impossible - like removing any lane around the university - and to see what it could look like.

87ave is also the only contiguous, east-west route in this area - everything else is blocked either by campus, or by the hospital.

87 Avenue & 110 Street

A bit further east 87ave reduces to one-lane each way with a turnlane. In this image that turnlane is removed, leaving one-lane each way, and the 2-way cycletrack.

This cycletrack provides a connection to the contra-flow lanes on 110st and 111st that we looked at fixing last time.

The Updated Map

The purple lines on this map show where we've ended up:
  • By adding separated cycling infrastructure to 116st and 87ave there is now a loop around the whole campus.
  • This provides connections to Saskatchewan Dr and to the 110st/111st contra-flow lanes
  • It would mean sacrificing something - either driving lanes or turnlanes on 87ave.

That's it for Part 1 of the look at an imaginary University of Alberta cycletrack network. In Part 2 we'll expand it even further, and suggest a few more impossible improvements.

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