Now we're going to move to the other side of the river to look at a quick-win near the University of Alberta.
Warning: this is all complete make-believe, but it doesn't have to be.
Right now near the University there are a pair of contra-flow lanes, with 111st northbound and 110st southbound. The thing is, they don't work very well:
- This route is popular with drivers who are shortcutting through Garneau, and safety is their last concern. I have seen every possible misbehaviour: stopsigns are purely optional; wrongway on the oneways; passing in the bikelanes; and I even had one stoned driver of a white minivan try to pass me on the sidewalk, narrowly missing trees and lampposts.
- To cross Whyte ave and 87ave you have to climb onto the sidewalk to press a begbutton, which means crossing back-and-forth infront of oncoming traffic.
- In winter these lanes essentially disappear.
I have a personal connection to these lanes, because I rode them daily for several years. I had so many close calls though, that eventually I gave up and I changed my route. My new route is longer, and it forces me to climb out of the rivervalley every morning, but it's worth it to avoid this existing "bike infrastructure".
Luckily these streets are plenty-wide to add barriers to the existing contraflow lanes to protect cyclists.
This would narrow the driving lanes to act as traffic calming, and would also prevent the "Yes I'm going the wrong way on a one-way, but it's only 1 block so it's okay" syndrome that is so common around the University Hospital.
Adding begbuttons that can actually be reached from the cycletracks would also fix the unsafe crossovers that are required right now.
Here we have 110st, which just needs barriers and a cycletrack begbutton at 87ave and Whyte.
If we're dreaming big though, instead of the 2 contra-flow lanes on 110st and 111st, a better approach might actually be to convert 110st to a 2-way cycletrack. This would mean removing the on-street parking, but it would also provide a straight connection from Saskatchewan Drive south to Whyte Ave, and possibly beyond. We can see that better on the map:
The Updated Map
This map shows cycling infrastructure around the University. The darker green lines are older paths. The lighter green lines are new cycletracks that are being installed this year - the new cycletrack on 83ave, and the 76ave and 106st renewal. The orange lines show the quick-fixes on 110st and 111st.
One problem with 111st is that it has to rejoin traffic north of 87ave, so it's really only the 4 blocks from Whtye to 88ave. That's better than nothing, but the nice thing about switching to a 2-way cycletrack on 110st is that it would provide a single connection from Saskatchewan Drive, to the new 83ave cycletrack, and to Whyte. And if we were willing to lose even more parking, it could continue south all the way to the new 76ave cycletrack. That's maybe a bit ambitious, though?
In the short term, adding barriers and begbuttons to fix the 110st and 111st contra-flows would be a quick-win, and it would be a huge improvement over what is there today.