Thursday, January 5, 2017

Great streets have 3.0 to 3.3 meter lanes, anything else is bad news

Over the holiday season, I read several books about cities and public space. One of those books was the Global Street Design Guide. I’ll save the review of this valuable resource for a future post, but the book focuses on how to design great streets that create a sense of place, are for people, improve public health, increase quality of live, enhance the environment, support economic productivity, and create social benefits.

The book shows how to allocate street space for different uses and goals. When it comes to general vehicle travel lanes, the book is very clear that travel lanes on most urban streets are too wide. These wide lanes encourage speeding and other unsafe behavior, and is counter to creating a great street.

For example, may urban streets have freeway-sized lane that can be up to 3.7 meters wide. We certainly have some travel lanes like this in Langley.

The Global Street Design Guide which is based on real-world examples recommends that general vehicle travel lanes be no wider than 3 meters. Lanes can be 3.3 meters wide if they support public transit or are truck routes.

It’s not only the Global Street Design Guide that recommends narrower lanes, new research by Dewan Masud Karim, P.Eng., PTOE who works at the City of Toronto also supports narrower lanes. He found that 3.0 to 3.3 meter lanes have lower crash rates, can handle more traffic volume, and encourage a higher rate of walking and cycling. A win, win, win.

Karim's recommended lane widths. Select image to enlarge.

The Global Street Design Guide also recommends that intersections be narrowed as well.

From Urban Street Design Guide: Example of wide intersection. Select image to enlarge.

From Urban Street Design Guide: Example of narrowed intersection. Select image to enlarge.

With the snow in Langley City, you can see how people use the streets. The following pictures show that there is excess travel lane width on many Langley City streets. This excess wide could be used for building wider sidewalks, bike lanes, parking, and green/planted areas.

Unused street space on 204th Street at Park Avenue. Select image to enlarge.

Unused right-turn lane on 203rd Street at Douglas Crescent. Select image to enlarge.

203rd Street to Douglas Crescent slip lane. Half the lane underutilized. Select image to enlarge.

Snow and ice act to narrow this intersection. Select image to enlarge.

203rd Street is one of the first streets in Langley City to have its street space reallocated, and 56th Avenue between Glover Road and the Langley Bypass is in the works. Based on research and real-world examples from cities around the world, Langley City is on the right course. As my pictures show, there is much work to be done.


Jim said...

Abbotsford has 7.3m wide lanes...

Jim said...

To clarify, that isn't a typo, I measured them. 7.3m per lane, with no parking allowed on the street.