Monday, November 26, 2012

We Need a Pedestrian Revolution!

Both the City of New Westminster and Translink have declared their intention of following the "hierarchy of road users", as illustrated here:

[hierarchy of road users; pedestrians rule!]

Now, as we all realize, the City is not actually walking the talk. There are many instances where pedestrians (and cyclists) are being seriously inconvienienced in order to maintain SOV traffic "as-is". And I'm not talking about keeping cars moving on major thoroughfares here. Once you start really "thinking as a pedestrian", you'll see many examples of these planning errors in New Westminster. Here we go:
  1. In general, crosswalks are placed in locations not where people actually want to go (to bus-stops, mailboxes, routes to the store), but where planning deems it "safe". This is backwards. Crosswalks should be put where pedestrians go, and the traffic flow needs to be adjusted to enable this. The methodology should be : watch where the people walk. Then plan the infrastructure around their routes. Not : force the pedestrians to use a particular route because a traffic engineer deems it the easiest place to make a "safe" crosswalk.
  2. Cyclists are usually asked to dismount at intersections. This is complete BS. Nobody wants to get off their bike to walk it across the road, especially if they are riding on a designated bike route, like the Central Valley Greenway. If it is unsafe for cyclists to cross while riding, adjust the traffic and/or infrastructure to make it safe! By the way, there is already mechanism that allows cyclists to ride across a pedestrian crosswalk: it's called an elephant foot crossing; basically all it takes is a paint update, and bingo, bikes can legally ride.
  3. In construction zones, pedestrians and cyclists are routinely inconvienienced. The sidewalks and bike lanes are removed and/or relocated, usually to the other side of the street, to serve the needs of the construction. Only rarely is road space impacted. This, again, is backwards. Pedestrian and bike access should take priority; remove car lanes, if required, but preseve safe sidewalk and bike lane space during all construction and do not force foot and bike traffic to detour. Construct a scaffold-tunnel if necessary! Almost every construction zone in the City currently inconvieniences foot and bike traffic; the most egregious violators are the MUCF (the City's own building!) and the new Translink (!!) offices on Columbia. Come on, guys.
  4. Signalled intersections are, in general, completely set up for the convienience and safety of cars. In most cases, when the light is green for cars, the "walk" sign in the same direction will not light up unless some pedestrian has touched the button. And even then, the pedestrian will have to wait for the next green traffic light in order to see the "walk" sign light up. And sometimes, they have to wait a long time...Yep, backwards, all of it. Here's how it should be: especially in heavy-pedestrian zones (around RCH, along Columbia downtown and in Sapperton, along 12th), the "walk" sign should come on every time the light changes to green, whether or not anyone pressed a button; and if someone DOES touch the button, the most they should have to wait for a signal change is 15 seconds. There are places along designated bike routes where the signal change time is upwards of one minute. Seriously.
  5. Intersections along bike routes have a notorious flaw : cars may turn right at the intersection, while the bike route goes straight. The cyclist is therefore put in danger unless they move into the lane, preventing the cars from turning while the bike is in the intersection. Of course, this maneuvre is impossible to do if the crossing is button-activated, and, in any case, is likely to incur the wrath of the motorists! This is poorly designed infrastructure with the cyclist getting the worst end of it. Cyclists should have "boxes" at the front of every intersection so that they get a head start at every light, or, they should have their own light while cars are prevented from turning.
There are many examples in our City of car-oriented (backwards) thinking, and this is only a partial list of the most common planning mistakes. I'm sure you can find examples in your own. List them! Let's get a pedestrian revolution going!

6 comments:

  1. You want a list? Where to start??

    - Sidewalks that terminate abruptly (East Van is notoriously bad for this)
    - No ramps on curb corners for wheelchairs/strollers/etc.
    - A general lack of places to lock up bikes, or bike parking that is located inconveniently far from destination front doors.
    - Inconvenient/incomplete bike path routes that encourage cyclists to shortcut on sidewalks or through parks, introducing unnecessary conflict between bikes/pedestrians.
    - Ridiculously short timers for traversing crosswalks, especially for large intersections.

    The list goes on, and on, and ON...

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  2. ...the philosophy that pedestrian safety is the responsibility of the pedestrian, not the person driving the 3000lb 300hp machine that creates the risk in the first place. Pedestrian-pedestrian collisions rarely result in a mild bruise.

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  3. I totally disagree with those wing nuts that did the ranking
    1. Autos Single or High period 2. Public Transit 3 Commercial Vehicles 4. Pedestrians 5. Taxis 6. Bicycles

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey P@J ask the kid on the skateboard that got wacked by a pedestrian if he agrees with your statement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be skateboard - pedestrian. Just sayin'

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  5. Motorists who threaten the safety of a pedestrian or another
    non-motorist, lose their status of "true human being", and
    should be lagally shot on sight! HUMANS NATURALLY PROPELLING
    BY THEIR OWN ENERGY MUST ALWAYS HAVE THE HIGHEST '
    PRIORITY LEVEL.

    That's how I think and nothing will change it. I'm fed up with that
    damn car culture that kill people every day.

    The ONLY motor vehicles ever allowed must be the state-of-the-line
    driverless vehicles who will detect and avoid people. The computer
    will do the job, and pedestrians safety will not be bound anymore
    to the "goodwill" of those obsolete unreliable motorists.

    ReplyDelete