The City persists in choosing to implement inferior made-in-Hamilton design decisions instead of just following evidence-based best practices.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 03, 2014
The Cannon Cycle Track officially opened on September 12, 2014. Within weeks, the protected two-way cycle track was already attracting 250-400 bike rides a day. However, with increased rates of cycling has come an increase in the number of bike collisions.
Cannon cycle track (RTH file photo)
In the first two months of operation, Cannon Street was the site of five collisions involving bicycles: three at Cannon and Wellington, one at Cannon and Emerald, and one at Cannon and Wentworth.
The good news is that none of the collisions were serious enough to require emergency services, but the details are worth noting:
Cannon at Wellington, September 24, 8:25 AM - ebike travelling westbound on Cannon, motor vehicle travelling westbound on Cannon turning left from Cannon onto Wellington. Driver charged.
Cannon at Wellington, October 2, 6:01 PM - bike travelling eastbound on Cannon, motor vehicle travelling southbound on Wellington, bike runs red light. Cyclist charged.
Cannon at Wellington, October 8, 4:10 PM - bike travelling westbound on Cannon, motor vehicle travelling westbound on Cannon turning left from Cannon onto Wellington. Driver charged.
Cannon at Emerald, October 3, 3:18 PM - bike travelling westbound not in bike lane, motor vehicle travelling westbound, bike fails to yield to motor vehicle. Cyclist charged.
Cannon at Wentworth, November 4, 5:07 PM - ebike travelling westbound on Cannon, motor vehicle travelling westbound on Cannon turning left onto Wentworth. Driver charged.
Three of the collisions involved a cyclist travelling westbound on Cannon and a motor vehicle turning left across the cycle track. In those three cases, the motorist was charged.
In the other two cases, where the cyclist was charged, the cyclist was either riding on Cannon outside the cycle track or crossing Cannon on a side street.
The three collisions involving cyclists who were riding on the cycle track all took place in intersections where the driver was turning left from Cannon across the cycle track.
Cannon cycle track at Wentworth (RTH file photo)
The Cannon Cycle Track was designed based on a Feasibility Assessment and Functional Design document produced by IBI Group for the City. You can download the report, titled PW14031AppA.pdf, from this Supporting Materials page.
The IBI report recommended adding pavement markings through intersections - specifically, "Dashed guiding lines (with optional bike stencils or chevrons but not sharrows)" - to highlight the presence of cyclists and reduce the risk of collisions with turning drivers:
For the functional design of the Cannon Street bikeway, guiding lines and chevrons are recommended to mark the intersection crossings... The chevrons re-enforce the bi-directionality of the bikeway. They are centred on the middle of the side street lanes directly in front of motorists and where they are less likely to driven over by motor vehicle tires reducing wear.
For some unknown reason, the City decided not to implement this design feature when constructing the cycle track. There are no pavement markings through nearly all of the intersections on Cannon (the notable exception is Sherman Avenue).
Cannon cycle track at Sherman (RTH file photo)
I wrote about this decision just after the cycle track opened, noting the city's response: "We are reviewing the completed installation and operations to see if any additional pavement markings are to be added."
A staff Information Update on October 15 revisited the matter of conflict zone pavement markings:
City staff recently met to debrief on the current operations and review signage and markings throughout the project site. As a result of this meeting, it was determined some additional features could be added to increase the awareness of the bicycle track and as a result, Traffic Operations will be installing paint chevrons where the Cycle Track crosses non signal controlled intersections. It is expected this work will be completed within the next four weeks.
A follow-up email from Public Works further clarified: "Traffic staff have confirmed that they will be painting them through ALL intersections along the cycle track. The update went out to Council before staff were able to make that edit."
Unfortunately, as of this writing, that has not yet happened. It is unlikely that weather conditions will allow staff to paint the pavement markings until spring.
What I can't understand is why staff didn't just add the intersection markings in the first place. They were in the Functional Design document and are supported by the best practices that were cited in the report.
As Kevin Love argued last week in his piece on the planned bike lanes on Charlton and Herkimer, the City persists in choosing to implement inferior made-in-Hamilton design decisions instead of just following evidence-based best practices.
Don't get me wrong: I'm generally very impressed with the Cannon cycle track. It is vastly better than the other cycling infrastructure the city has built both before and since it was opened.
Even so, there is simply no good reason not to have included the intersection markings right upfront. Great as it is, the cycle track literally disappears right when cyclists need it the most - where their paths cross the paths of powerful steel automobiles.
When will the City stop kneecapping its own accomplishments and just do these things right the first time?
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