Churchill Avenue Reconstruction - Four Answers
Going into the Churchill reconstruction public information session I had four questions. Here are the four answers. You may want to consult the great big design PDF.
Answer: yes. The cycle track and pedestrian sidewalks are higher than the roadway and at all of the un-signalized intersections they will remain "raised", resulting in a physical mini-hump for cars. This is excellent. Drivers exiting a side street will have a stop sign and stop-line first, then the raised area let's them know they are in a zone where priority isn't for cars. Drivers leaving Churchill have a reminder that even though there are no lights, there is something they should be watching for: other people who aren't encased in a protective metal shell. No doubt
some most drivers will still do rolling "stops". No doubt a lot of walkers will still stop for cars before crossing on the assumption that car is king. Nonetheless, an excellent improvement. The raised profile also makes the arrows (zebra arrows?) more visible since they are painted above the regular road surface.
Pedestrian Priority at Intersections?
Answer: unknown. At rush hour I understand the need to synchronize traffic lights all along Churchill to keep traffic moving - no issue there. This being my neighbourhood I can tell you there's no value in making pedestrians wait for over a minute at a light when there is almost no traffic on the road anyway. This is what happens:
- Walker gets to a light and pushes the button to cross Churchill.
- Nothing happens for 20 to 30 seconds, then finally the *other* crosswalk gets the flashing hand.
- Another 10 to 20 seconds and finally the yellow light.
- Another 5 to 10 seconds.
- Finally, the walk sign arrives.
This is fine, except if there is almost no traffic our imaginary walker didn't bother waiting and jaywalked 45 seconds ago. Now there's a car waiting at a red light for no reason. A false optomization. My written feedback requested that outside of rush hour pesdestrian crossing buttons result in an immediate signal change.
Re-routing of cycling route from Dovercourt/Kirkwood to Churchill/Clare
This feedback is tangential to the Churchill reconstruction. Currently the official cycling plan routes cyclists along Dovercourt all the way to Kirkwood, then north. Unfortunately the Dovercourt/Kirkwood intersection is a mess: one-way at the end, too close a busy signalized intersection just to the south, impossible to turn left, and technically illegal to enter because of the one-way. A terrible place to bike.
For the north/south distance from Clare to Dovercourt it would be better to use Churchill instead of Kirkwood and make good use of the new segregated lanes. For the east/west distance from Churchill to Kirkwood Clare and Dovercourt about roughly equivalent, but with Clare getting lights at Kirkwood it will be much safer for cyclists. Clare also provides a straight, safe alignment all the way to Hilson which then easily connects further to Iona and the new traffic light across Island Park drive, or to the Byron path.
I'm sure Dovercourt was a fine option years ago. Going forward Churchill & Clare are way better. (Disclaimer: I happen to live right at Clare & Kirkwood)
Missing zebra marking at Carling and Churchill
More a curiousity than big concern, the crosswalk markings at Churchill and Carling are only getting the zebra treatment on three sides. The fourth side, on the dead-end street next to Corel, only gets regular lines. The staff member I talked to said there is not enough pedestrian use of that side of the intersection to warrent the zebra paintings. (If you listen closely you can hear Eric Darwin cringing as traffic engineers consult the tables to explain away the lack of walking infrastructure).
There is also a cost reason: zebra markings cost more to maintain. I did point out that perhaps with zebra crossings the intersection would feel safer and some induced demand (this time for walkers) might appear as a result. Anyway, I didn't push the point, but it bears pointing out anyway. Why not just make all four the same? This little video courtesy of Councillor Fleury shows that road painting is pretty fast.
I find it difficult to believe the incremental cost of one more zebra crossing is going to be high. After all, the crew will be doing three sides already. How many more minutes would the spend on maintenance? 15?