another excellent post! I highly recommend you follow stroadtoboulevard if you’re at all interested in redesigning streets to make them more livable and safer.
I wish i had taken pics (for my own reference) of the sidewalk/cycle track islands i like so much, but when i was in the NL two years ago i wasn’t that deep into urban planning yet.
Intersections are where collisions happen. How can we design them to be safe for children?
This is a normal Vancouver intersection. I’ve highlighted the “Dutch Island” for pedestrians.
The same protective corner principle can just as easily apply to bikelanes.
This is Hamburg:
This is Rotterdam:
I think this ‘islands’ design is safer than Vancouver’s preferred bike boxes design for intersections. In the islands design, left-turning cyclists are guided to behave like pedestrians: cross twice. Adding the cyclists to the pedestrian numbers makes everyone protected, predictable and more visible.
In the bike-box design, left-turning small children on bicycles are guided to behave like cars: move forward to the middle of the intersection, vulnerable and alone, and wait for a gap in oncoming traffic. Far more people, especially small children and older people, are happier behaving like pedestrians: therefore public infrastructure investments must reflect this. Those who wish to run with the bulls still may, of course.
The red dots are supposed to represent large terracotta planters, while the blue bars represent Vancouver’s favoured concrete brutalist highway divider. All you need for safe streets are some paint, and bunch of these planters.
Another way to make intersections safer for children, is to bulge out the sidewalk, narrowing the entrance/exit so that pedestrians have less far to cross. Bulging and narrowing slows cars, so that cyclists also might be happy to share the lane. Again, you can achieve this with some paint and planters, if you’re short on cash.
You can see here that the bulging simply takes up the space before the intersection where parking is disallowed.
This intersection just has a bulge on one side, but note that the whole intersection is raised to pedestrian level.
Better yet, you could redistribute the bulging and design a Blackson Twist. This has the advantage of forcing cars to wiggle, slowing them, and providing something to block their view: a terminating vista, as they say in the business. It also provides a larger pedestrian space on one corner, which you can use as a patio or ultimately build on.
This example in London wasn’t retrofitted, but approximates the Blackson Twist design.
These two ‘fused grid’ designs aren’t true Blackson Twists, having symmetrical treatment only on two corners. This intersection in London has space for just one car at a time to pass through the between the bulges. It’s also raised.
This intersection in Vancouver has space for just bikes to pass through.
The more common ‘wiggle’-forcing design is the roundabout. Like streets, space on a roundabout can be shared if it’s made narrow enough; if wide, roundabouts must be ‘complete’ with separated spaces for pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.
It’s worth noting that safety is improved by using intersection (and street) designs that slow, wiggle and separate traffic, as opposed to traffic signals that explicitly direct stop-start flow. Traffic will slow by being forced to wiggle, or squeeze through a narrow gap between bulges.
When traffic signals are green, intersections can all but disappear: approaching traffic doesn’t change speed at all through the intersection. This is clearly dangerous by design.
After age (cancer, heart disease) motor vehicles are the most common cause of death in the developed world. When deadly collisions happen, they happen at speed and they happen at intersections: broadside t-boning is not only immediately deadly for pedestrians and cyclists, it tends to take out drivers too. The designs above offer examples of safer alternatives.
If your city, like my “greenest” one, doesn’t design intersections like this as a matter of course, then they are dangerously and undemocratically serving a subset of citizens only, while failing to uphold the transport hierarchy.