As many of you will have read in the recent Metro article on the topic, and as others will have experienced, improvements are on the way to the intersection of 10 St and 3 Av NW. This work is part of a larger plan to extend and improve the 10 St bicycle lanes.
When opened as a trial in 2011, the soutbound bicycle lane terminated at 5 Av, connecting to the 9a St contraflow bicycle lane by way of a bike box on 5 Av. This arrangement proved ineffective and confusing, for those both cycling and driving. As revealed in the report which announced the lanes were to be made permanent, fewer than five percent of southbound cyclists elected to use the multi-stage turn process. One in six motorists illegally turned right during the red light, diminishing the attractiveness and safety of the bike box. One in three motorists stopped in the turn box, again harming the utility of the box. The bike box was removed last year, with City staff working on how to make the connection to 9a St since.
With the new alignment, the southbound lane now continues onto 3 Av, where it will meet up with a new turn bay and a new signalised intersection. Those cycling will now be able to ride into the green-painted bay, wait for the signal to change, and then ride onto 3 Av to connect to 9a St. Currently, the paint for the turn bay is in place, but the signalisation has been delayed. Work should be completed within a few weeks.
The northbound bicycle lane also receives significant improvements. Originally, it confusingly started part way up the 10 St hill, leaving cyclists to ride down a potholed alleyway to access it, or dice it up with fast-accelerating automobiles at the 5 Av intersection. The lane now begins with a small stub at 4 Av, giving those cycling a safe space to wait as the light changes, and then continues on immediately from the 5 Av intersection.
Bike Calgary was engaged as a stakeholder from early on in the planning stages, providing input on what was needed to improve the 10 St lanes' connectivity. We supported the vision of extending the bicycle lanes as a way to improve the functionality of the lanes themselves, better connect those cycling to the 9a St contraflow lane, and to improve cycling access to businesses within the Kensington BRZ. The turn bay at 3 Av also seemed a significantly improved way to transition between 10 St and 9a St. Additionally, the upgrading of the of the intersection at 3 Av to a fully-signalised intersection was recognised as benefiting all users, whether they cycle, walk or drive.
Bike Calgary did express concerns about snow-clearing from the 3 Av turn bay from early on, and those concerns have turned out to be well-founded. In each snow fall this year, the turn bay has been packed full of snow, even if the 10 St lanes themselves have been properly cleared. It was suggested to Bike Calgary representatives that plows would be able to easily scoop snow out of the turn bay as part of their regular work on 10 St, but this has so far not been demonstrated. 311 calls have resulted in the snow being removed after the 48 hour clearing window and will hopefully result in more timely clearing in the future.
When the turn bay construction was completed, concerns were also raised about its poor drainage. The bay slopes into the centre from both the curb and road sides, leading to pooling of water. This is a particular concern during colder months, when rain water and snow melt will pool and then freeze. Bike Calgary pointed this safety concern out to City staff, who informed us that they were aware of the error in construction and were working on a fix. Unfortunately, now that winter has set in, repairs are unlikely to happen until well into 2015.
Aside from these concerns, the changes to the 10 St NW lanes represent a welcome improvement to an already very popular route. Bike Calgary will be watching closely to see how the 3 Av turn bay performs when the signalisation is complete.
The City of calgary has also created another instalment in its Travel Tips series, providing information on how to use the new lanes. It can be viewed here.