Sunday, 20 April 2014

How Do You Spell Design ...

I got started cycling around my neighbourhood in a West coast, Vancouver Island city in British Columbia as a fair weather rider, as a youth.  When I got into my first career, I got into riding which morphed into competing and then into teaching.
 For the most part I have ridden and trained on the roads. I have not been an off road type, but I have tried the basic trail areas in the Delta watershed in Greater Vancouver.   The provided infrastructure hasn’t always been the best place to ride, and cycling infrastructure, when available, wasn't much more of an afterthought. Cycling infrastructure has not been taken seriously until the last few years.
Off road cycling and on road cycling are two different types, but they overlap. The cycling principals are the same.
These terms from the CAN-BIKE program ring true across the cycling spectrum;

Manoeuvrability               Visibility          
     Predictability      Communication

                                                            Or  See  Be Seen  Be Heard  Be Predictable

What brought on this blog entry is a new walkway along the West side (backside) of the Edmonds Skytrain station, in Burnaby BC.     

I am adding the below pictures the pathway I am speaking about.


The above pathway goes along the back of the Edmonds Skytrain station. It goes along and takes a very left turn at the fence, and goes up to the rear of the East bound Skytrain platform.
…..  The fence.  The fence blocks off the area under the street. The pathway comes up to the fence then turns about 120 degrees and goes up to the Skytrain emergency exit.

There isn’t any direct indication that the new path is connected to the Skytrain station, and it looks like other portions of the pathways through Burnaby.  If you look at the pathway it appears to be a continuation of the actual pathway that comes into the Edmonds Skytrain area.  There are footings for what appears will likely be lighting.

Now let’s trace our steps backwards down the pathways to the lighted paved pathway along the edge of Central park, from Kingsway Ave to past Patterson Skytrain and MetroTown Skytrain stations.

The pathway along this portion is paved, lit and designated as a separated cycle and pedestrian path.
If you look at the above pictures, this area appears to be paved, getting ready for lighting, and appears to be a separated bike and pedestrian path.

 Further, the Edmonds section has the appearance it couples into the pathways from the Burnaby side, through Edmonds Skytrain station parking lot, off of the path along Rumble and up from the path from 22nd St Skytrain station, along and past graveyard and the elementary school.

The fence is intact and has in fact been there for several years. It’s only a few blocks from the path, the Central Valley Greenway.  Behind the fencing, is an area blocked off for I can only surmise is to keep the graffiti taggers out.

It is not until you suddenly come upon this fence that you realize the path goes nowhere past the Skytrain station. Because the fence blocks the whole distance opening from side to side.  The cyclist must dismount and walk back around to the greenway belt path.  I hope the cyclists realize the fence is there prior to running head long into it !! They have to turn around and either go back along Griffiths, or out and past the grocery store behind the BC Hydro building.  This leads me to the other half of what I wanted to mention.

As I said earlier road designers/urban planners/engineers, those who design roads, neighbourhoods, cycling tracks, multi-lane roads/highways aren't always cyclists.

 Let’s go back a number of years in British Columbia.  In South Surrey along a number of roads the engineers were told that they were to add bike lanes on the existing roads surfaces.  They weren't to spend any more money, since they had none to spend to build/rebuild the roads or expand the surfaces to add a separated bike lane. I suspect   the road people weren't real sure what they were supposed to add, or exactly where they were supposed to add them.
They did what they were told, and added a marked (painted) biking area along the edge of the traveled road lane.  This bike lane ran along the edge of the road, okay so far not as large problem.  This is where the conventional wisdom has the bike lanes running even today.
Now, let’s add the twist.  We come up to the area where the road meets another road, and the turn bay which was designed into the road moves to where a turn bay is supposed to go.  Yes, the straight through bike lane continues along the outside edge of the road, a stops where the solid road lines goes with the road surface.
The cycling lane is expected to continue but there is nothing marked on the road.  Further the bike lane going with the road lane puts the cyclist way out of position and into a dangerous spot.  The cyclist now has to cross the turn lane, and then into the path of the crossing vehicles in the intersection, and deal with the vehicles that are going straight through.
Road have gotten somewhat better, in some places this situation was corrected, but in a number of places it wasn't.
The road construction people tried to point this cycling error out but those complaints fell on deaf ears.
As I mentioned the brainiacs saw some of the problems but didn’t little about it.
It was these type pf situations that assisted the rise of cycling zealots and their voices of how the designs were screwed up, and they were right.  They pointed out the facts and what could be done to correct the problem, and again they were close to what could work for both sides.

 - 96th Ave and King George Blvd, on King George Blvd.

NOTE 1:  The bike lane goes South on the West side of the right turn lane and crosses the right turn lane.

NOTE 2: The left turn bay/lane extends back a long distance, a rider must cross two lanes of traffic and the goard to turn 

This brings me back to where I started, cycling where it is safe.  I mentioned the path to nowhere and how it was constructed by, well we just don’t know.

When you are riding you need to check out your route or routes prior to using them.  Maps are great and can be dated but may be out of date.  GPS is great but it sometimes has flaws in the program.  Try looking up Georgia Street, then Georgia Straight.  They sound very similar and if you have two thumbs like me, then you might make a typo, and see what you get.  On the Canadian prairies many of the cities and towns have a “Central Avenue or Street” and a “Railway Avenue”.  The Canadian prairie towns  were built by and around the great push West of the railway, so they builders named the towns and the roads in the towns.  I am told that the names of the new places were on a list of names that when they got to the bottom of the list they started again, so the name likely appeared more than once along the same railway line.
 I know some of you are wondering about names and building of maritime towns and cities.  I understand they  were built from the beach and central dock out, and no I have no idea how some of those places were names.

This brings us back to our opening line… How do you spell design….

There are many many factors that go into cycling infrastructure and design. Some that make sense, and then some that make absolutely no sense at all.
 Please take a minute to think it through and then take a breath.  We know the designers don’t normally ride, so they build what appears to make sense to them, and yes at times the world can look wonderful through rose coloured spectacles.

Find the route(s) that works best for you and where you are wanting to be.
 The most direct may not be the best route, or the safest route.  There may be a road/street/avenue/bike path that gets you where you want to be and is safer. It might be a little out of your way, but if it is quicker or the same distance and or time then it only makes sense.
Part of safe and defensive cycling is knowing your limitations and riding within them.

Now the kicker… knowing where the best place to be riding may not be where the designers have planned for you.
 This could mean riding where you are not accustomed to and maybe bend or twist the riding rules/laws.

Best to be right and where it is safe for you and not follow blindly what an anonymous designer thinks is best.
Use your head, use your abilities. When doing this hopefully you won’t have to use your superior defensive skills.

  Thanks for stopping by
      Safe Ride Home,


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