Monday, October 5, 2015

When a Shared Pathway is not in the Township of Langley

Back in August, I posted on transportation infrastructure that enhances the visibility and safety of those who cycle in a rural context. What is required in a rural setting is different than what is needed in an urban setting.

In rural areas, one of the most important things that can be done to improve the visibility around cycling is to install signage and pavement markings on cycling routes. I shared two photos from my friend and cycling advocate John Evanochko on how the Township of Langley has been trying to enhance rural roads to support cycling.

I posted that installing “Share the Road” signs was a good way to promote cycling safety and visibility. It turns out that “Share the Road” signs can cause confusion for people who are driving and for people who are cycling. There is a great post by Bike Delaware titled “Why ‘Share the Road’ Is Gone in Delaware” which explains why that state is changing its signage.

Acceptable and unacceptable cycling signage in Delaware.

There is some legal ambiguity in BC around where in a general travel lane someone cycling should be. When you are cycling, you must stay “as near as practicable to the right side of [a] highway”, but you can take up the full lane for safety reasons. This includes if there is no shoulder or if the lane is narrow.

Speaking about cycling safety, the Township of Langley recently updated the pavement markings and signage of the two sites that I posted about in August. The new photos are from John as well.

Before: Cycling route signage in a rural section of the Township of Langley.

After: Shared Path signage and pavement marking installed.

Before: Share the Road sign and pavement marking at Murray Creek ravine on 48th Avenue.
After: Shared Path signage and pavement marking at Murray Creek ravine on 48th Avenue.

Is this really a "Shared Path"?

When municipalities create shared pathways for cycling and walking, there is normally a sufficient width to allow someone cycling to be able to comfortablely pass someone walking. This is not the case with the recent changes in the Township.

In fact, these new “Shared Pathways” are not wide enough for a person walking to feel safe; they're certainly not practical for cycling.

Creating these “Shared Pathways”, and removing the former signage, suggests that people cycling shouldn’t be in a general travel lane. If someone is cycling in the general travel lane, this can create a “get off the road” conflict. When on the “Shared Pathway”, it might not be practical to cycle at a reasonable speed; there is no way someone walking and cycling could actually share the pathway.

I’ve come to realize that much care and attention to detail is needed when installing signage to protect vulnerable road users.

In rural areas, the Surrey-style “Share the Road” signage without the wording “Share the Road”, combine with the green bike route signage that is current used in the Township will enhance cycling visibility and safety.

“Shared Pathway” signage and markings should only be used when a path is at least 3 meters wide; anything less is a sidewalk. Permitting cycling on a sidewalk decreases the safety and comfort of people walking.

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