Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cycle Safety at Intersections

A Main Intersection close to where I live is receiving some Federal Government Blackspot funding to improve the intersection. Most major intersections in the ACT have 'free' left turn slip lanes. This is to help car drivers from waiting too long at intersections when turning left.

Statistically most road accidents happen at intersections like these involving motor vehicles ,motor cyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. So it is important that there is good design for all users.

This intersection in Woden ,most days it is certainly busy at peak times and very difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to manage. The Woden Town centre is located across the other side of this intersection. Poor design overall of the Woden Town centre has meant that a six lane highway surrounds the town centre block where the shopping centre,Office's, Cinema's and Clubs are located. One road on the north side has had its lanes reduced to four to accommodate cycle lanes though the distance crossing for pedestrians is the same. Most people tend to drive to the Town centre even though it is only a short distance of 1km or 2km for most Woden residents.

What makes this intersection unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists is the free left turn slip lanes as a pedestrian you have to cross the crossing an stand on a small island waiting for your green walk sign. You can wait for several minutes if you miss the traffic light sequence.
If you use the on road cycle lanes as a cyclist there is no physical protection on road speeds of Hindmarsh 80 - 60kmh and Melrose Dr 60 - 70 kmh . The cyclist on Hindmarsh Dr traveling east is between moving vehicles as the cars using the slip lanes turn left and cars going straight ahead. This will be the same on Melrose Dr under the new design.

Car's using the bike lane to turn left

Car blocking cycle lane on Melrose Dr intending to turn left

The ACT government intends to upgrade this intersection but will make it worse for Pedestrians and Cyclists, some slip lanes will be increased and the pedestrians and those cycling on paths will have to a s-bend at the intersection road medians.

People tend not to use this intersection to cross the road now, and cross at areas before an after this intersection which is illegal and unsafe. So this will become worst. There is enough room to construct pedestrian and cycle tunnels, but of course this will be at greater expense. A friend of mine who I have convinced that these slip lanes are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists made a submission to ACT Roads on this intersection based on dutch intersection design principles.

The Left turn slip lanes have been removed  and the result is a much better design and much safer for all traffic. You cold still have on road cycle lanes though the best solution is to have separate infrastructure  at 'high speed-high volume' roads like these. ACT Roads would argue of course that this will slow up motor vehicle traffic in both directions, so we wait and see what their response is.

So how do the Dutch do it with the safest roads in the world? Here another great video form Mark Wagenbuur


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