Tag: Transportation Engineering

Designing Bicycle Box Systems to Keep Cyclists and Motorists Safe

Green box painted on pavement with bicycle riding on it in traffic

Everyone knows about bicycles. Like any sport, they have a fandom following, from avid Tour-de-Francers to all those dedicated bike-to-workers. Not to mention, it’s practically a rite of passage to learn how to ride one, and it’s the quintessential comparison when talking about things you never forget how to do once you learn.

Despite their popularity around the world, America still shines with its youthful glow in comparison to many historic countries; we just don’t have the same bicycle-laden streets that other countries have grown to cherish. That’s not to say that America isn’t making strides to enhance its bike-ability. Major cities have hundreds of miles of bike lanes, while New York City tops the list at having 1,000 miles.

Though America has some catching up to do, cities have seen overall betterment in roadway safety when communities define where bicyclists should travel on the roads.

One innovative design that’s gaining traction is the bicycle box. From the NACTO website, “A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.”

Bicycle boxes are innovative because they address many safety concerns at once, such as: increasing visibility of bicyclists, preventing “right-hook” conflicts, provides priority for bicyclists, and groups bicyclists into one obvious area, making it easier for cyclists to clear the area quickly.

Recognizing these benefits, Hoyle, Tanner recently designed a bicycle box system on Farrell Street in South Burlington, Vermont, which will become the first approved installation in the State. As Farrell Street is part of the route of the Champlain Bikeway (a 363-mile scenic loop around the lake), the City is dedicated to improving access and safety in this location and throughout the City. At the Farrell Street/Swift Street intersection, the City was particularly concerned that southbound cyclists looking to make a through or left turn would conflict with vehicles turning right to access US 7 & I-189. A bicycle box was the perfect solution. Hoyle, Tanner worked with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and gained interim approval for the City’s use of this valuable tool, which is required for new traffic control devices that have not yet been formally adopted. Partnering with Howard Stein Hudson, Hoyle, Tanner designed the bicycle boxes which will employ special highly visible green pavement markings and thermal or video bicycle detection to reduce collisions and improve safety at the intersection. With this experience, Hoyle, Tanner will look to aid other municipalities and state agencies with this and other emerging traffic control technologies, with a goal of improving the recreational and commuter transportation experience for all users.

How Your Community Plays a Part in National Walk to Work Day

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Spring has arrived just in time for National Walk to Work Day! Individuals across the country are lacing up their sneakers and hitting the pavement, while communities are taking a more holistic approach to ensuring safe pedestrian and bicycle travel. Many municipalities are introducing the concept of “complete streets”, introduced by the National Complete Streets Coalition, to their design efforts to balance safety and convenience for motorists, transit users, pedestrians and cyclists alike. Currently, there isn’t a single design for a complete street; it represents creating roads that are safe for all users, regardless of age, ability, or transportation method. Growing in popularity, some of the complete streets features are being implemented throughout the state, including:

Traffic Calming
With the growing demand for alternative modes of transportation, traffic calming measures are being introduced on various roadways to ensure safe travel for all users. The use of narrowed throughways, speed bumps/humps/tables,chicanes, and curb extensions (bulbouts) are some of the many features being used in the efforts to slow automobile travel, including the Union Street Reconstruction in Peterborough, New Hampshire. This project also incorporated tree plantings along the medians to beautify the area.

High Visibility Crosswalks
History shows pedestrian crossings existing more than 2000 years ago, where raised blocks on roadways provided a means for pedestrians to cross without having to step on the street itself. In current designs, high visibility crosswalks are incorporated to guide pedestrians and alert motorists to the crossing locations. Six foot wide crosswalks are installed using long lasting plastic/epoxy or paint embedded with reflective glass beads to assist in the crossing markings. In addition to local governments, universities, like the University of New Hampshire, are incorporating these crosswalks on their campuses.

Shared Use Paths
A multi-use path or trail that has been separated from motor vehicle travel and has been established for alternative transportation purposes is another option that is growing in popularity. Utilizing existing right-of-ways to create these travel corridors for pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, equestrians, and other non-motorized users in some instances are also used to observe the natural environment in various communities. Recently, a shared use path was completed connecting Manchester’s and Goffstown’s trail system.

Multi-Modal Intersection
Intersections have the unique responsibility of accommodating and coordinating the nearly-constant occurrence of conflicts between all modes of transportation. Multi-modal intersections focus on intersections where numerous modes of travel come together and the coordination is required for the safety of all users. Utilizing different design features such as corner refuge islands, forward stop bars, and dedicated bike lanes, as used on Manchester Street in Concord, all intersection users can travel simultaneously, safely.

With many communities implementing these design features into roadway geometry, walking to work can be as simple as strapping on your shoes and heading out the door. By walking to work for this nationally recognized day, you will help reduce carbon emissions, get fit, and avoid the traffic jams.