I normally keep this blog pretty generic when it comes to project work but the work we've been doing with the City of Nanaimo is worth sharing. At the end of October, the City held an open house to reveal the Metral Drive preliminary design. Metral Drive will be the first project to include draft recommendations from Nanaimo's Complete Street Design Guide which we're nearing completion on. A key part of the guideline is the raised intersection with continuous sidewalk and bike path on collector streets where they pass local streets.
The design is proven in the Netherlands where its most common, but the benefits are universal regardless of location:
A conventional curb return essentially does the opposite:
The benefits are hard to argue against, and if you prioritize the most vulnerable modes you really have no good reason to use anything other than the raised intersection in such situations.
Vulnerable modes are often stated as the highest priority, while street design often suggests otherwise. By adopting this design and other complete street principles, Nanaimo will prioritize pedestrians and cyclists through design, leading by example in the Canadian context.
People might suggest Canada isn't the Netherlands, however both the TAC Traffic Calming Guide (below left) and BC Road Safety Toolkit (below right) include reference to such designs. However, adoption has been limited.
A while back, I asked on twitter for some North American examples, it got a good response but most still featured curb returns of some sort which convey the message that the sidewalk stops while the vehicle path continues. Canmore perhaps comes closest in Canada, even adopting the red coloured bike paths, while Seattle are doing good things in the US.
Nanaimo will soon provide another excellent example of how such a small change can make a big difference to the user experience on the street. In addition to simply implementing it on one project, it will be included as a standard in their updated Manual of Engineering Standards and Specifications (Draft 13th Edition here and draft raised intersection shown below) and soon their Complete Street Guidelines.
The feedback at the open house was very positive, and then later, feedback through social media has also shown a desire for such designs in communities across Canada. Positive feedback from well respected organisations was also welcome. The Dutch Cycling Embassy and 8 80 Cities approve...
Keep your eyes on the City of Nanaimo web page in the coming months for updates on the raised intersection designs and guidance as well as other complete street recommendations. Metral Drive should go to construction next year and I can't wait to see it built, and take a walk and bike ride along it!