By the end of this summer, the bike network in Downtown and Oliver will look something like this:
The darker green lines show older infrastructure, and the lighter green is what is being installed this year. The downtown portion of the grid has all been designed and installed in less than a year, which is amazing.
Now that we know what the city can do, lets look at what they should think about doing next.
Warning: this is all complete make-believe, but it doesn't have to be.
This image shows what 100ave could look like if the cycletrack network were extended west through Grandin.
Once upon a time 100ave had 3 lanes of traffic - 1 eastbound and 2 westbound. Then about 15 years ago the city removed a westbound lane, and converted the road to 2 gigantic lanes.
Right now this is a very unpleasant road to bike on. Drivers don't know if they should hug the middle line, or the curb, or just drive right down the middle. And if you're trying to find someone riding a bike on a sidewalk in Oliver, 100ave is the place to look, because only the bravest people will attempt riding on the road here.
At 16' wide these lanes are huge, and if they were reduced to a more reasonable 10' then a 2-way, protected cycletrack would fit just nicely.
100 Avenue & 116 Street
Heading further west we reach 100ave and 116st, which is a bad intersection if you are on a bike or on foot. When you are on a bike the right-of-ways are completely unclear, and when you are on foot you face a constant battle with drivers creeping into the crosswalks.
At this location the installation of a cycletrack would mean the loss of the short right-turn lane from 100ave northbound onto 116st, as well as roughly 4 on-street parking spots at Academy Place.
But providing a cycletrack would make this intersection navigable on a bike, which is currently impossible. It would also shorten the crossing distance for people walking, and no-right-turn-on-red would limit the crosswalk encroachment that is currently so common.
100 Avenue & 117 Street
If we move a bit further west to 117st we find another intersection that currently doesn't work very well on a bike.
Like 100ave, Victoria Promenade also used to have 2 lanes westbound. One was removed, and it was replaced with a contra-flow bikelane, as well as an extra-wide westbound lane with sharrows. This image shows some possible ways to handle a cycletrack in this location.
The most obvious fix would be to simply widen the existing bikelane into a 2-way cycletrack, and to add barriers. That would be easy, but it would still mean that people biking would need to cross infront of westbound traffic at 117st. If we went with that approach the crosswalk should be converted to a raised crosswalk, so that drivers have to slow down.
An alternate approach would be to shift the bikelane to the northside of the street (the left side of the image), so that people on bikes don't have to cross infront of traffic. That would mean moving the onstreet parking to the other side of the street, which is uncommon in Edmonton, but is not completely unheard of. There is on-street parking on the driver's side on 105st downtown, as well as on Calgary Trail near Whyte ave.
If the cycletrack were placed on the northside of Victoria Promenade it would simplify the major intersections at 117st and 121st. But it also introduces smaller potential conflict points at 118st, 119st, and at the driveways for 6 apartment buildings. This image shows the two options.
A cycletrack on the southside would certainly be simplest, but if it were on the northside the visibility would actually be pretty good.
121 Street & Jasper
The main draw of moving the cycletrack to the northside of Victoria Promenade is because of where 121st crosses Jasper ave.
A 2-way cycletrack on the southside of Victoria Promenade would end up on the westside of this intersection (the right side of the image), and that would not work because of the double leftturn lane.
But a 2-way cycletrack on the southside of Victoria Promenade would connect to the eastside of this intersection, and that could work as long as the traffic signals are set up properly. To find space for that the existing median would have to be demolished (although it's crumbling as we speak), and the lanes shifted over a few feet.
Alternatively, the 2-way cycletrack could split somewhere on Victoria Promenade, and then cross Jasper as separate, 1-way cycletracks.
Connection to 102 Avenue Cycletrack
Finally that brings us to 102ave, which is having a cycletrack installed this year.
Right now the bikelanes on 121st are a narrow afterthought, and they are right in the door-zone of parked vehicles. 121st is really wide though - each direction has 32' of space to play with if we want to improve things.
As we saw with the last image, we could install a 2-way cycletrack, and to do that the median would need to be removed. Or the existing 1-way cycletracks could be improved by moving them against the curb, adding barriers, and then shifting the on-street parking to the outside.
The Updated Map
And here is where we end up, with the orange line showing this quick-win extension.
By installing a cycletrack on 100ave and Victoria Promenade we:
- add 1.7km of protected bikelanes to the network.
- add important connections at 110st, to the river at 116st, and to the 102ave cycletrack.
- fix 3 intersections that are currently bad for biking.
- provide access to the cycletrack network for Grandin and south Oliver.
- provide traffic calming by narrowing the huge, existing lanes.
- lose no lanes of traffic
- lose less than 10 parking stalls at 116st and at the General Hospital at 111st.