Friday, July 29, 2011

Redesigning Fredericton's Downtown

     Downtown Fredericton streets were originally designed in the mid 1700's with horses and buggies in mind. Cars and bicycles were not an issue until they became popular in the late 1800's. In the beginning, cars just went whatever way they felt like. Then came the dawn of traffic signs and policemen directing traffic. Finally, the modern traffic light. I feel like history has repeated itself and we are back to going whichever way we want… Every hundred years, it feels like the streets start to get narrower and narrower. This is due to bigger cars, more people and the ever increasing need for parking. Currently Queen, King and Brunswick Streets are at a maximum three lanes wide. Two lanes are for moving traffic, and one for parking or turning lanes.

     I understand there is not a lot of room for manoeuvrability in the downtown core in terms of road space, but I think a few inches could be spared? I have said before that all bike lanes in the city end 50 metres or more before an intersection. The idea is to force cyclists to move into traffic so motorists would not suddenly turn right and run them over. I have provided solutions through Plan A and Plan B.

Plan A Queen Street

     As you can see, the bicycle lane is painted blue for added visibility. This would only be required 100 metres before and after an intersection. A dotted white line through the bike lane provides an opening for right turning traffic. Cars must yield to cyclists already in the bike lane. This style of bike lane would run from Church Street to Northumberland Street. The separated lane would improve speed and safety for cyclists through the downtown, especially during the rush hours.

Plan B Queen Street

     If space is an issue, a designated Bus, Taxi, Charter, Emergency Vehicle and Bicycle lane would be provided in the right lane of Queen Street. The lane would be painted a maroon colour or paved with a mix of sandstone pavement. This lane would require to be widened slightly so these special service vehicles can move around cyclists. Special service vehicles wanting to turn left or right would use the regular lanes. Dotted white lines provide and opening for regular vehicles to turn right. This type of lane would run from Church Street and end on York Street. From York Street to Northumberland Street, the use of Plan A would be required. The designated lane (Plane B)would have hours from 5am to midnight. From midnight to 5am, regular vehicles would be permitted to drive in the lane. 

     You may have noticed, "Well, this is an excellent West-bound corridor, but what if I wanted to go East?" Brunswick Street is most likely the widest downtown street. Parking is banned for its entire length, except on Sundays, thus making it excellent for a bike lane. The plan for Brunswick Street is quite similar to Plan A for Queen Street, minus the parking stalls. Again, the lane is painted blue and dotted white lines provide an opening for cars to turn left, and cars entering mid-block from Kings Place Garage or Brunswick Garage. This style of lane would run from the Woodstock/Smythe/King/Brunswick intersection all the way to Church Street, travelling the furthest left lane.  The lane would preferably be on the left, due to the majority of the bicycle traffic turning left to the downtown core.

Brunswick Street

Plan A/B (This pic is borrowed from Active Transportation Fredericton)

Please note, these are all theoretical solutions, and none of them are or may never be official.

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