It’s been a long, long journey, but it’s finally almost nearly over. The last day to comment on the City of Greater Sudbury’s new Transportation Master Plan is tomorrow!
In the past week the Coalition For A Liveable Sudbury has highlighted the confusing and troubling fact that despite direction from Council the TMP still identifies a South Bay Road extension going through Laurentian trails and conservation lands.
For the record, here are my final thoughts on this damn thing:
My comments focus on proposed cycling facilities, and the proposed classifications of roads and the standards applied to those classifications
Section 10.2.1 provides a list of three types of cycling facilities to be recommended for different classifications of roads. These facilities are not always appropriate for the classifications of roads they are matched up with.
“separated facility or alternate route”
“separated facility or alternate route” is not an appropriate cycling facility type because “alternate route” actually means “no accommodation of cyclists on the road”. Earlier in this section the draft master plan states that if separated facilities are not feasible on a high volume route, then an alternate route should be investigated, but there is no discussion of how to determine feasibility.
Please change the bullet “separated facility or alternate route” to “separated facility” and add a new facility type, “cyclists not permitted”. Roads with traffic counts over 15,000 vehicles a day tend to have high concentrations of jobs, shops, services and homes. There is no actual alternate route for cyclists who would want to get to those destinations. If no cycling facilities are provided then people will continue to bike on those roads despite the lack of safe infrastructure. The direction currently provided by this bullet is irresponsible and contrary to the “complete streets” approach. If a road truly cannot be made safe for cyclists then cyclists should be prohibited from using those roads. Thankfully, I’m confident that an engineering solution can be made to make every road in Sudbury safe for cyclists.
The third bullet in the list of types of cycling facilities is “shared roadway”. These types of facilities have been demonstrated to be less safe than no facilities at all and do nothing to encourage an increase in cycling as is obvious from observing use of the Regent Street sharrows.
There are a very small number of areas where sharrows are appropriate. These include: places where separated bike paths cross the roadway; complicated intersections where the intended path of cyclists needs to be highlighted; tunnels or bridges that are physically too narrow to accommodate bike lanes; quiet residential streets where drivers need to be reminded that cyclists may be present.
“Contraflow bike lanes”
There is a fifth type of facility that Sudbury needs to consider. Contra-flow bike lanes allow cyclists to legally travel in the opposite direction of traffic on a one-way street. Cross Street is an excellent candidate for a contra-flow bike lane because there is a Rainbow Routes trail entrance mid-block that cannot be legally accessed from the south end of the street. Other one-way streets in the city may also be good candidates to improve connectivity and provide a safe, legal space for cyclists.
“Wide curb lanes with sharrows”
The draft master plan contemplates wide curb lanes with sharrows in the second paragraph on page 187. This should be phased out completely. This does not encourage more people to bike and is not safe except on low-volume roads. Typically the wide curb lane is wide enough to accommodate a dedicated bike lane, and if the other traffic lanes on the road are made narrower these roads could accommodate physically separated bike lanes.
Proposed Road Classifications
The table outlining the proposed road classifications sets out recommended right-of-way width, speed limits and intersection spacing.
Numerous existing road segments identified as “Primary Arterial” on Figure 81 cannot meet the proposed standards for that classification and it would be inappropriate to apply these standards. Primary Arterials are to have a right-of-way width of 35-45 metres in urban areas. The posted speed limit is meant to be 60-100 km/h. The minimum intersection spacing is to be 400 metres.
A “Complete Streets Approach” would not assign these road standards to urban areas such as the West End and West Elm neighbourhoods or New Sudbury where there are high numbers of pedestrians and relatively high numbers of collisions with pedestrians.
Below are two examples of where the “Primary Arterial” classification is inappropriate. Other examples include The Flour Mill, Lasalle Blvd (between Somer Street and Falconbridge) and Paris Street/ Notre Dame Blvd between Boland Street and Ste Anne Road.
As I have done with the examples below, please review the road classifications to determine if the standards are appropriate for the road segments to which they have been applied.
Lorne Street – Kelly Lake Road to Elm Street
Lorne Street is identified as a “Primary” road, but the right-of-way through this segment is less than 35 metres and is constrained by private property and rail lands. The proposed right-of-way of 35-45 metres cannot be achieved and would be inappropriate due to the fine scale urban environment of Gatchell and the West End.
The road is lined with homes and small businesses with many driveways and pedestrians and this is a bus route, therefore the speed limit of 60-100 km/h is inappropriate along this segment.
The average distance between intersections from Kelly Lake Road to Elm Street is 143.18 metres, therefore the proposed minimum intersection spacing of 400 metres cannot be achieved through this segment. Closing these intersections would have a significantly negative impact on the community.
Drivers have struck 9 pedestrians along this stretch between 2009 and 2016 and there have been many more collisions between vehicles. Additionally, drivers struck 6 more pedestrians at the intersection of Elm and Lorne during the same time period. To reduce collisions the design of the roadway should be adjusted and the speed limit reduced to 50km/h or lower.
The proposed standards for “primary arterial” roads cannot be applied to Lorne Street between Kelly Lake Road and Elm Street and therefore classifying this segment as “primary arterial” is inappropriate. This segment of Lorne Street should instead be classified as “Collector”, or a new “Urban Arterial” classification.
Elm Street – Ethelbert Street to Lorne Street
The segment of Elm Street between Ethelbert and Lorne street is classified as “Primary Arterial” but the proposed right-of-way of 35-45 metres for a “Primary Arterial” cannot be achieved and would be inappropriate through the Elm West neighbourhood.
The average distance between intersections from Ethelbert to Lorne street is 171.16 metres, therefore the proposed minimum distance between intersections on a “Primary Arterial” cannot be achieved through this segment without closing intersections, which would have a significantly negative impact on the community and increase traffic volumes on adjacent roads.
This segment of the road is lined with homes with dozens of driveways, many pedestrians use this route and it is a bus route, therefore the speed limit of 60-100 km/h is inappropriate along this segment of Elm Street.
Drivers have hit 6 pedestrians at the intersection of Elm and Regent, 1 pedestrians at Elm and Athol and 6 more pedestrians at Elm and Lorne between 2009 and 2016. To reduce collisions the design of the roadway should be adjusted and the speed limit reduced to 50km/h or lower.
The standards for “Primary Arterial” roads cannot and should not be applied to Elm Street between Ethelbert Street and Lorne Street and therefore classifying this segment as “Primary Arterial” is inappropriate. This segment of Elm Street should instead be classified as “Collector”, or a new “Urban Arterial” classification.