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sat in on the ACTC (alameda county transportation commission) board meeting today. because.. why not
some stuff on the under construction I880 HOV (high-occupancy vehicle aka carpool) lanes, and the WETA (water emergency transportation) about how cities with ferries should have a seat on that board.
Intersection design

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.

The final plan for wider sidewalks and other pedestrian improvements on Castro Street between Market and 19th Streets was presented at an open house by the Planning Department this week. Overall, the pedestrian environment on Castro will be vastly improved after the skinny sidewalks are widened to as much as 22 feet, and the narrowed traffic lanes should also calm motor traffic.
more: sf.streetsblog, 17.05.13.
» SF’s Long Range Transportation Plan

Liz Brisson + Rachel Hiatt of San Francisco County Transportation Authority 

annie alley (between market st. and 645 mission).
tues. 21.05.13. 12:30pm. free. ok to bring lunch.


City Picnic: Annie Alley

The Yerba Buena Street Life Plan identifies Annie Alley as a key opportunity for a new open space within San Francisco’s downtown. What better way to explore the idea than a pilot project transforming the alley into a temporary public promenade, complete with planting, seating and activities?

Help SPUR and the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District jumpstart a week of outdoor events in Annie Alley by spending lunch with us. We’ll provide a grand banquet table. You, the exciting ideas. Grab some lunch from a local eatery or food truck, and join us for a picnic and discussion about the future of alleys in our urban environments.

mon. 20.05.13. noon @annie alley.

» Placemaking: Market and 6th

Market/6th, noon-6pm this sat 18.05.13. free and open to the public.

Modern Times Brewery: Transforming San Diego

awesome post by jacob mckean, the guy behind soon-to-exist Modern Times Brewery.

back their kickstarter campaign to unlock a $2400 donation to bikeSD!!

In 2008, the World Heath Organisation estimated that between the years 2000-2015, car accidents around the world would kill 20 million people and cause 200 million serious injuries. Cars, of course, also spew loads of pollution, which also kills people and causes all manner of health & environmental problems. That’s a lot of death and suffering for a transportation system that sucks to use.

Cars also make our cities much less interesting places to live. The density of cities like New York and San Francisco—which are far less car-dependent than San Diego—is precisely what makes them more vital and creative; sprawl is fundamentally stultifying.

Sprawl also chews up an insane amount of land, which should be criminal in a bioregion as singularly gorgeous as San Diego. Consider that one thousand people could comfortably live in a car-free town the size of an average commuter parking lot (with ample open space in the heart of it).

Modern Times exists to make extraordinary beer. But it’s also an actor in the life of this city. It has a responsibility to shape its own environment, to constructively engage with the city upon which it relies. One of the ways it will do that is by helping to transform San Diego into a better, more livable place.

San Diego should look like this:

Los Angeles (!)

And like this:


If that seems far-fetched, it shouldn’t. There’s no reason why San Diego can’t look like those pictures; it’s simply a matter of creating the will to transform strip malls and auto parks into human-scale buildings and car-free streets.

But’s it not just that San Diego should be the most gorgeous, walkable, sustainable city in the world; it should also preserve the unbelievably beautiful land that surrounds it. Due to an absence of vision and an excess of greed and laziness, huge swaths of San Diego County’s almost unimaginably stunning and irreplaceable land has been converted into a sea of asphalt.

This is what San Diego looks like without sprawl:

Laguna Mountains

And like this:

Mount Woodson

We should save as much of what remains as we can.

So that will be one of the social missions of Modern Times. If you think you can help, get in touch. Obviously we’re not going to be giving away cash anytime soon, but we’ll do what we can to leverage our beer and our space and our voice to help.

» Updating a City, Block by Block

San Diego’s massive size makes it impossible for the general plan to hash out zoning on a neighborhood level, let alone the property-by-property level needed to give residents and businesses a clear blueprint for the future they envision.

For that, the city turns to community plans

San Diego Community Plan Update Process. (click to enlarge)

voice of san diego, 09.04.13.

» Rules for Successful Transportation Planning


George Anderson, Chair of the Nanaimo Transportation Committee, has kindly asked me to share my thoughts on the Transportation Plan.

Here are some rules-of-thumb to help judge any Transportation Plan.

  1. Modal choice is induced by the built environment; it is not an intrinsic personal trait.
  2. The best transportation plan is a land use plan.
  3. Make sure roads are roads, and streets are streets.
  4. Focus on intersections.
  5. Safer streets do not require expensive infrastructure.
  6. In transit, frequency is freedom.
  7. Think of cyclists as pedestrians with wheels

Modal choice is induced by the built environment; it is not an intrinsic personal trait.

You might hear that ‘people like to drive’. We all like to drive: on the open road, in a fun car. This doesn’t mean you should design your city around driving. When you design a city around driving, most people aren’t cruising a sportscar around empty streets: they’re sitting in congestion in station wagons or cheap sedans.

Those same people will happily park their cars and walk or cycle around when they visit Victoria or Vancouver, or Paris or Amsterdam. And on the flipside, when a French or Dutch tourist visits Nanaimo, he rents a car: there’s nothing about being Dutch that makes you cycle, it’s simply the natural reaction to the built environment they live in.

Note one very important consequence of this: induced demand. Your engineers should not measure today’s car traffic and speeds, and design streets primarily to accommodate them, or some linear forecast of volumes from today. Instead, you will get the traffic that you design for: the more car space you provide, the more cars you will get. The more bike, pedestrian and transit space you provide, the more of those you’ll get.

The built environment is set by public policy: streets are a state monopoly; and development on private lots is strictly regulated. Your transportation plan is about the former (but the latter is also just as important).

EXCELLENT post! continued here.

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