During a brief trip to Saskatoon to attend the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Fall Technical Meetings, I managed to fit in a quick walkabout to see what the City of Saskatoon looks like. On a side note, the TAC project I requested to review the use of Share the Road signage has begun but is in the early stages. This volunteer project will hopefully recommend alternative signage and usage guidelines as per my older post. Back to the walkabout, carry on for some images from Saskatoon.
The 'WALK YOUR BIKE' pavement markings above were the first thing of note I saw as I got out of the taxi in Saskatoon, a second later someone rolled by on a bike. As my walkabout continued, these pavement markings can be found on almost every letdown. It amounts to graffiti and makes the City look very anti-bike. Other signs were found on streetlights and signal poles. Bikes certainly shouldn't be ridden on the sidewalk, but rather than call them out at every single letdown, perhaps we can provide them with their own safer space to ride. If riding on the sidewalk is such a problem, it is clearly needed. Fortunately, as my walk continued, things got better.
As I begun my journey down 21st Street E, I encountered maple leaf crosswalks, streets with trees, benefiting from the fall colours, on-street parking perpendicular to the travel lanes, using a lot of space, but of course providing more parking. Travel lanes appeared pretty wide, and bike racks were frequent and often populated, on one occasion with a long travel downhill mountain bike... In Saskatoon! A quick measure on google maps suggest the pavement width on 21 Street is around 20m for two parking lanes and two travel lanes. This could conceivably be reduced to two 3.0m travel lanes and two 2.4m parking lanes, using almost half the current width and providing about 9m to do something else with. This would however reduce parking by about a third, thus may face significant resistance from a political and business perspective.
Traffic calming was evident at 2nd Avenue, restricting through traffic on 21st Street.
Evidence of pavement cafe's was found, which if it wasn't so early in the day, and the weather hadn't turned, may have brought more life to the street.
A few blocks down, I came to 4th Avenue. Some signage alerts drivers to the increased presence of bikes.
As we turn onto 4th Avenue, we see a parking protected bike lane, which I believe is just a trial at the moment. Given the number of bikes I saw, when temperatures were close to zero, there is clearly demand for such infrastructure. Likewise, if you need those 'WALK YOUR BIKE' pavement markings at every letdown, this would suggest a large number of cyclists.
At intersections, while there are no protected intersections, left turn boxes are provided to allow cyclists to make a safer two-stage left turn from the parking protected bike lane, rather than merging across on the short approach to the stop line. The only challenge here might be that while you wait in the left turn box, depending upon how the signal timing works, you have no ability to push a button to alter the signal timing in any way, not a problem if on short cycles, but potentially a bigger problem if there are long cycles and low demand. You are also sitting in the path of a right-turning vehicle from the side street, albeit a 'no-right-on-red' would resolve that conflict.
I wasn't able to measure the lanes, they do not appear super wide, I'd estimate about 1.5m, interestingly with no gutter, and passing could be a squeeze. The door-zone buffer is fairly wide though, and could be used for quick passes. I'd estimate the door-zone to be around a metre, an improvement over the minimum 0.6m and thus less likely to result in any 'dooring', except in the unfortunate situation where a cyclist passes at the same time someone throws a door open.
The timing of this trip in the fall also helps illustrate the need for maintenance, with leaves frequently falling, and rainwater pooling where drainage issues exist.
For the leaves at least, there is a solution for that. I believe the vehicle below is a Tennant Green Machines Compact Air Sweeper. The marketing states "Clean where other large-city cleaning machines can't with this easy-to-maneuver, quiet-operating sweeper that can also function as a high-pressure washer, street cleaner, snow plow and sand/salt spreader. The Green Machines 636 is easy to use, even in congested public spaces, and it protects people from potentially harmful dust with a three-stage filtration system." It has a cleaning path between 1.3m and 2.05m.
Where vehicles travelling in the same direction as the bike lanes turn right across the bike lane, signage tells them to yield to bikes. Interestingly the bike path moves out toward the travel lane, perhaps making cyclists obscure by the parked vehicles more visible to drivers, then, the green crossings direct the back to the curb on the other side of the intersection. Again, a fully protected intersection here would push the conflict point much further on and hopefully reducing the threat from turning vehicles.
Green Paint is evident at driveways as well as intersections.
As is common with on-street bike lanes, buses continue to block them when they pull up to the curb.
Down by the river, there are some regular bike lanes along Spadina Crescent. The trees were looking pretty awesome in their fall colours here.
There is a multi-use path close to the river also...
On my way back to the meeting venue, there was more 'WALK YOUR BIKE', more outdoor seating, more wide roads, and everybody likes a good alleyway...
Hopefully by the time the spring meetings roll around, the Share the Road project will have made more progress and is going in a direction favourable to cyclists. More images from Saskatoon can be found in my flickr album.