Now that I’ve calmed down a little about today’s decision on removing the bike lanes on Jarvis, maybe there is a bit of room to make everyone traveling along Jarvis happier. I regularly ride and drive along Jarvis, so while my perspective is still biased (I much prefer to be safer on the bike than faster in the car), I think I’ve got a fairly balanced view.
- Driving is more efficient when there’s more room horizontally (three lanes are better than two)
- In a car waiting behind left-turning traffic is annoying
- Bikes need a lot of space – in the five-lane Jarvis configuration the lanes are very narrow, which makes it impossible for a car to split a lane with a cyclist
- The five-lane causes more confusion that good. I don’t know how many times I’ve been legally driving in the centre lane, only to be approached head-on by someone confused or waiting to make a left turn
If you forget about opening up the centre lane completely to traffic and work on something a little closer to what you’d see on Davenport (the intersection at Bathurst is a prime example of how this would work), then I think you’ll get the best of all worlds.
- Cyclists will have a protected lane when the speed differential is highest, and therefore the most vulnerable
- Drivers will have a turn lane, and will always have two open lanes approaching intersections
- We can all share the space approaching and going through the intersections. I mean come on. It shouldn’t be hard.
Here are some diagrams showing the differences between a five-lane, four-lane with bike path, and four-lane with sharrows through intersections with full turn lanes. All of them have the same number of cars and cyclists in the same positions. They’re all making the same turns and trying to get through the same way.
The five-lane configuration:
There’s one happy car here. Maybe closer to two, but the guy in the dark red car is a little bit annoyed because the car in the curb lane had to move into his lane a bit to avoid the cyclist. The northbound guys are both anoyed, one because of the cyclist and the other because of the left-turning car.
The four-lane with bike lane configuration:
Cyclists are doing really well and are fully protected. Great. But there are still two really annoyed cars stuck behind the left-turning cars. I understand this well because that’s usally me making the left, and it does make me uncomfortable knowing that I’m forcing people behind me to wait.
The four-lane with bike lane, turn lane, and sharrows configuration:
Almost everybody is happy here. Really, what more is there to say?
I know this might not apply to rush-hour, since I’m pretty sure at most intersections you can’t make a left turn anyway. But the option would be available to allow for left turns, and that’ll change traffic patterns all over the place. So obviously I understand that I haven’t just drawn up a few lines thinking that I’ve solved the problem.
That said, what I’ve done still isn’t any different than a room full of politicians getting together and drawing and erasing their own lines. I don’t understand how any decisions like this can be decided that way without proper consultation and planning. Maybe that should be what changes in all of this.