Toronto Queens Quay & Water's Edge Revitalization | ?m | ?s | Waterfront Toronto

I agree 100% with what you're saying about cyclist behaviour. Cyclists need to be more respectful of pedestrians. I'm guilty of that myself sometimes when biking. And as a pedestrian it's infuriating to have a cyclist speed past me on the sidewalk out of nowhere. Especially when there are bike lanes on the same street... My second biggest pet peeve is fast-moving cyclists at night without bells or lights.

But at the same time, I don't think we should change the focus from cars vs. pedestrians to cyclists vs. pedestrians. Cycling infrastructure benefits pedestrians in many ways: by reducing the speed of traffic through road diets, by reducing the number of lanes needed to cross to cross the street, by providing a buffer between the sidewalk and fast-moving diesel-fume belching trucks, by sensitizing automobilists to other road users. Speaking from personal experience, it also seems as though any cycling infrastructure is appropriated by joggers, women with strollers, dog-walkers, etc. who benefit from the reclaimed road space. "Complete streets" and a shift away from car-focused road planning usually results in widened sidewalks and improved walkability.

Focusing on conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians draws an equivalence between those conflicts and conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians. While those conflicts exist, physics means that a 160 lb cyclist + bike going 20 km/hour is nowhere near as dangerous as a 3000 lb vehicle going 70 km/hour. 35 000 people die a year in the US in collisions involving cars, more than the population of Juno Alaska (or Stratford Ontario), about a third of which are from collisions with cars and pedestrians. Shifting people from cars to bikes will bring the death rate down and improve safety for pedestrians.

While I agree that cycling infrastructure benefits pedestrians (I think it benefits everyone, including motorists), I don't believe that talking about cyclists needing to respect pedestrians in any way changes the focus from cars vs. pedestrians to cyclists vs. pedestrians. Safety isn't a pie - it isn't a limited resource, where if someone gets a slice that means less for everyone else. It isn't as if pedestrians talking about their safety vis-a-vis cyclists somehow means that there is less safety to go around in terms of pedestrians/cars or cyclists/cars. In fact, quite the opposite. One of the knocks against urban cyclists is that they (allegedly) fail to respect the rules of the road or other road users, and that argument is routinely (obnoxiously) trotted out every time there is a proposal to improve/expand cycling infrastructure. Failing to acknowledge or talk about how all road users need to respect all other users does not help the cycling cause.

I also disagree strongly that talking about pedestrian/cyclist conflicts "draws an equivalence" with pedestrian/automobile conflicts. Of course a car can cause so much more damage, as I have said repeatedly on these forums. However, just because a 3000 lb vehicle going 70 km/hour can cause death doesn't mean we should have no regard to the broken ribs and facial contusions caused by the 160 lb cyclist + bike going 20 km/hour crashing into the pedestrian.
 
Last edited:
I'm not misrepresenting what was said at all. The person in question, who was not you, said (and I quote a bit of it):

"The car is a far greater threat to all of us - let's spend our time thinking about that instead."​

"All the evidence we have suggests it is NOT a serious problem."​

And in response to my suggestion that the safety of all road users is paramount and there is no need for us to pick and choose, we got this little gem:

"Yes, we should all work for greater safety in our own lives and behaviour. But, no, when it comes to discussing policy there is only so much money, time and attention. There IS a need to pick and choose. And we should choose to focus on cars. [...]"​

Sadly, none of that is taken out of context. Because the number pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists were, in his/her opinion, quite low, (s)he very clearly stated that pedestrian safety generally vis-a-vis cyclists was a non-issue. The discussion starts roughly on page 134 of the General Cycling Issues thread if anyone is interested.

If you want to further debate who said what, I'm happy to have that discussion in the General Cycling Issues thread where that discussion took place.
I was remembering a completely different conversation, my bad. In the other conversation people were drawing equivalencies between the danger caused by drivers and cyclists, and my attempts to introduce some perspective were met with skepticism at best. Yes, cyclists can absolutely pose a danger to pedestrians. But the danger caused by cars deserves much more attention.
 
To bring this back to Queens Quay, I too have had people here and on Twitter completely dismiss the need for cyclist traffic enforcement because "there's no evidence that pedestrians get hurt" from cyclist collisions. They resented the fact that police had a blitz on Queens Quay arguing that we shouldn't be discouraging cycling. Excuse me? Law enforcement isn't discouraging cycling. It's discouraging law breakers and the stereotypical asshole cyclist. If you're offended, then you may be one.

It's mind blowing that the busiest cycle track in the city does not have a single bike cop patrolling it despite well known issues and law breaking. Can the Toronto Police Service not dispense with a couple of cops on bikes to ride around to ensure everybody is being safe and enforce laws when cyclists and pedestrians are so blatantly ignoring traffic lights?
 
Sigh. Every time people mention any kind of pedestrian-bicycle conflict, bicycle-car conflict, car-pedestrian conflict (etc. etc.) it devolves into argument about how "cyclists are irresponsible", or "pedestrians are irresponsible" or "motorists are irresponsible", and about crash severity and law-breaking and all sorts of other dead horses. Which detracts from the actual problem here which is design! Rather than bickering about who is right and wrong in various disagreements, let's focus our efforts on the reason those disagreements happened in the first place.

The pedestrian-bicycle conflict zones are not intuitively designed, which results in people having different expectations of other users than those users have for themselves, and vice versa. THAT is what causes near-misses, frustration and anger.

I've posted this before, and I'll post it again (original post here). We need to define right of way in terms of the ordinary rules of the road rather than making up some new rules of the road for Queens Quay that (surprise, surprise) people don't even understand, let alone obey. Heck, we've even had arguments on this very forum about some of the meanings. If a group of interested people such as us don't even agree on expected behaviour, then there's little hope for the average person.

"Cyclists yield and obey signals"
QQ_SignalYield.jpg

That's two contradictory messages! Traffic signals themselves are supposed to assign priority - green means you can proceed with the right of way and red means someone else has the right of way (a bit oversimplified, but that's how the average person sees it). Put simply, green means go. It doesn't mean "go, maybe, if the way is clear, possibly", that's what flashing yellow is for. All road users tend to get upset when something gets between them and a green light, whether they're driving, cycling or walking. So it's no surprise when cyclists get mad at pedestrians who unintentionally obstruct the bicycle path. The real translation of this sign is "the bike path is not clearly delineated in the places pedestrians tend to cross, so you'll probably encounter people wandering across your path inadvertently and we'd like to blame you if something bad happens as a result".

Unsignalized Crossings
The unsignalized pedestrian crossings at Spadina are a classic example of the lack of clarity in this design. There are big blue boxes with "watch for pedestrians" in advance of one conflict area in each direction (but not both):
SpadinaPXOs.jpg

Image taken before "WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS" was added

In the initial (intended) design, there wasn't any text in the box - just these blue squares. There are a lot of shapes and symbols in the road marking vocabulary, but a big blue square is not one of them. Not here, and not in any of the countries Queens Quay visitors might be from. Any of the following would on the other hand have been appropriate: zebra crossing, ladder crossing or simple line crossing (priority crosswalk styles), shark's teeth (yield line), upstream "X" (pedestrian/railway crossover ahead), advanced yield symbols, etc.

But hey, why use road markings people have seen before when we could make up our own system and get mad at people who don't get it. Surely people on Queens Quay are there to learn a completely new system of traffic markings. It's not like they are using it to enjoy the waterfront or actually go somewhere. </sarcasm>

Since people clearly had no idea what the blue boxes where supposed to mean (shocker!), Waterfront later added the text "Watch for Pedestrians". Even if on-road text right at a conflict point were practical way of conveying information, what does that even mean? If you do spot a pedestrian, then what? "Watch for _" is typically what you'd see on roads where there is some kind of potential hazard that you might have to avoid, but in general you can proceed unless you think a collision is imminent. Common examples are where some hazard may suddenly appear on the road, such as pedestrians, deer, moose, falling rocks, and my personal favourite: trees.
W_TreesXS.JPG

Seen on Autoroute 20 in Québec


Add in the elephant's feet markings along the path, and all indications seem to suggest that pedestrians need to wait for a gap in bicycle traffic, right? Wrong! Because those were just the indications visible to cyclists. The clues visible to pedestrians indicate the exact opposite! The paving materials in the conflict zone are continuous with the sidewalk on either side, not the bicycle path. That's a very strong subconscious indicator of right of way. Also visible to pedestrians (but not as much to cyclists), there is a large stop bar on the bicycle path on one side (but not both!) of each crossing point. Pedestrians could logically assume that cyclists are expected to come to a stop. But in fact those stop bars are completely meaningless because they are not paired with a traffic control device which would require anyone to stop there, namely a traffic signal or a stop sign. And besides, with only one stop bar are cyclists expected to stop at one and wait for a gap at both crosswalks? Who knows!

To allow people to get along, traffic markings need to unanimously indicate a single priority regime. Not half indicating one way and half indicating the other. That's not "shared space", that's just bad design.
My vote is that pedestrians get priority at unsignalized crossings, because there isn't enough room for many pedestrians to wait for a gap in bicycle traffic after having crossed the road.
QQSpadina_Crossing.JPG


Stop lines
At signalized locations stop lines are indeed warranted, but on Queens Quay they are often poorly placed and always poorly designed. They cover the entire width of the bike path, which makes no sense, since the left half is for oncoming traffic. This bizarre (aesthetic?) decision means that the stop lines on Queens Quay are unrecognizeable as stopbars, which resulted in basically no one obeying them. The words "STOP HERE ON RED" have since been added to the bizarre blue boxes at signalized intersections, a classic example of applying a 'blame the users' bandaid, rather than addressing the cause of the problem, which is that the road markings are nonsensical.

But to make matters worse, there are locations where the stop bars are illogically placed, which results in some people disregarding them even if they recognize their intent.

At most intersections, the stop bars are set back about 5 metres from the road crossing, to leave enough room for pedestrians to cross in front while bikes wait at red lights. This makes good sense given the heavy volume of both pedestrian and bicycle traffic. But there aren't pedestrian crossings at all signals. At Spadina Loop (just east of Spadina) and Robertson East (just east of Rees), there are no pedestrian crossings yet the stop bars are still set back as if there were. The same is also true at Fire/EMS on the east side:
FireSetbackCrossingS.JPG


This is a case of road markings "crying wolf". There is no reason for people to stop where indicated rather than rolling up to the actual conflict point like they would naturally tend to do. People may notice that they're pointlessly stopping far back and learn to disregard the stop bars - even though there are some locations where the setback is actually warranted.

But these 5-metre examples are nothing compared to eastbound at York Street where the stop bar is set back a whopping 21 metres from the edge of the road crossing.
YorkEBs.JPG

I am genuinely surprised that anyone ever obeys such an absurd stop bar location

The only conflict in that distance is with the pedestrians inadvertently wandering all over the poorly-marked path. Meanwhile, the signal timings conveniently ignore this ridiculous crossing - for the crossing distance of 47 metres, a 20 km/h road would need a 9-second all-way red clearance interval. But in fact it's only 4 seconds. Without the required all-way clearance time it's actually physically impossible to obey the stop bar, because you could pass it legally and still not get to the vehicle crossing before cars start occupying it.

Obviously a 9-second all-red clearance is absolutely ridiculous and would just create mass confusion. Instead, the stop bar should be moved to where people would naturally expect it: right next to the road crossing. The pedestrian crossing is so far away that it can be dealt with as an independent unsignalized crossing like I suggested above for Spadina.

Paving Materials
I could go on about the paving materials, but at this point my post is so long that I've probably lost all readers anyway. I'll just settle for a picture:
QQGeneric_Crossing.jpg
 

Attachments

  • QQ_SignalYield.jpg
    QQ_SignalYield.jpg
    33.2 KB · Views: 591
  • W_TreesXS.JPG
    W_TreesXS.JPG
    73.8 KB · Views: 542
  • QQSpadina_Crossing.JPG
    QQSpadina_Crossing.JPG
    1.1 MB · Views: 738
  • SpadinaPXOs.jpg
    SpadinaPXOs.jpg
    253.7 KB · Views: 597
  • FireSetbackCrossingS.JPG
    FireSetbackCrossingS.JPG
    380.2 KB · Views: 626
  • YorkEBs.JPG
    YorkEBs.JPG
    372.5 KB · Views: 591
  • QQGeneric_Crossing.jpg
    QQGeneric_Crossing.jpg
    509.5 KB · Views: 545
Last edited:
"Cyclists yield and obey signals"
View attachment 84763
How is that supposed to make sense?

Let's be clear. Cyclists who run a red aren't doing it because signage is confusing. They view rules as optional. You see cyclist after cyclist look around as they approach a red, then proceed anyway. They know they have to stop but go anyway.

Yes, there are places where a yield sign should exist versus a red light but that doesn't mean that people are free to break the law. That's a separate debate. I agree with your call for better design but no matter how much signage we change, cyclists are going to ignore it. If nobody is following the rules, there are going to be accidents. And I see them happening every day. It's the culture that must be changed, and the only way to get cyclists to start obeying the rules is to make it clear that those rules will be enforced.
 
Let's be clear. Cyclists who run a red aren't doing it because signage is confusing. They view rules as optional. You see cyclist after cyclist look around as they approach a red, then proceed anyway. They know they have to stop but go anyway.

Yes, there are places where a yield sign should exist versus a red light but that doesn't mean that people are free to break the law. That's a separate debate. I agree with your call for better design but no matter how much signage we change, cyclists are going to ignore it. If nobody is following the rules, there are going to be accidents. And I see them happening every day. It's the culture that must be changed, and the only way to get cyclists to start obeying the rules is to make it clear that those rules will be enforced.

Yep, that's about right. No cyclists follow the rules, and no cyclists will ever follow the rules. So no point in addressing the countless nonsensical design elements that contribute to a mentality of disregarding signage and markings.

</sarcasm>

Let's be clear. I'm not saying that everyone should break whatever laws they like whenever they like. I'm saying that there are clear changes we can make which will reduce law-breaking behaviour. Because as satisfying as it is to punish law-breakers, it's more beneficial to society if we reduce the rate of law-breaking in the first place. And design is far more effective at doing that than enforcement.

And because you're probably going to misinterpret the last sentence, I'll spell it out for you:
Design is more effective than law enforcement. This does NOT mean "Let's not bother with law enforcement". It means that first priority should be making an intuitive design, with law-enforcement as a stopgap measure.
 
Last edited:
Great posts, Reaper. Design plays a big part in how people use a space, whether they're pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers. Those "obey signals" signs are ridiculous and remind me of the pedestrian signs on University Avenue and Highway 7. Both roads have two stage crossings, so they felt the need to put "pedestrians obey your signals" on the signs. But pedestrians always have to obey their signals, so those signs are redundant. Or are they saying that you only have to obey signals when there's a sign telling you to? If you have to put up an extra sign directing people to obey, chances are there's something wrong with how it's designed in the first place.

I've always found the green and blue line markings on the Martin Goodman Trail to be odd. People expect yellow lines since that's the standard. But here we have a non-standard design for no real reason. The same thinking seems to have crept into the stop bars and other aspects of how the intersections are designed. The trail wouldn't be any less attractive or special if it had standard lines, stop bars, and zebra crossings. We have a habit of using non-standard signage and signals in Ontario, but on the waterfront it's especially bad. Traffic control on transportation infrastructure should always be as standardized as possible. There were a lot of fundamental mistakes made in the design of Queens Quay and I hope that they can admit that and fix it properly instead of just putting up more bandaids.
 
Last edited:
Sigh. Every time people mention any kind of pedestrian-bicycle conflict, bicycle-car conflict, car-pedestrian conflict (etc. etc.) it devolves into argument about how "cyclists are irresponsible", or "pedestrians are irresponsible" or "motorists are irresponsible", and about crash severity and law-breaking and all sorts of other dead horses. Which detracts from the actual problem here which is design! Rather than bickering about who is right and wrong in various disagreements, let's focus our efforts on the reason those disagreements happened in the first place.

The pedestrian-bicycle conflict zones are not intuitively designed, which results in people having different expectations of other users than those users have for themselves, and vice versa. THAT is what causes near-misses, frustration and anger.

I've posted this before, and I'll post it again (original post here). We need to define right of way in terms of the ordinary rules of the road rather than making up some new rules of the road for Queens Quay that (surprise, surprise) people don't even understand, let alone obey. Heck, we've even had arguments on this very forum about some of the meanings. If a group of interested people such as us don't even agree on expected behaviour, then there's little hope for the average person.

"Cyclists yield and obey signals"
View attachment 84763
That's two contradictory messages! Traffic signals themselves are supposed to assign priority - green means you can proceed with the right of way and red means someone else has the right of way (a bit oversimplified, but that's how the average person sees it). Put simply, green means go. It doesn't mean "go, maybe, if the way is clear, possibly", that's what flashing yellow is for. All road users tend to get upset when something gets between them and a green light, whether they're driving, cycling or walking. So it's no surprise when cyclists get mad at pedestrians who unintentionally obstruct the bicycle path. The real translation of this sign is "the bike path is not clearly delineated in the places pedestrians tend to cross, so you'll probably encounter people wandering across your path inadvertently and we'd like to blame you if something bad happens as a result".

Unsignalized Crossings
The unsignalized pedestrian crossings at Spadina are a classic example of the lack of clarity in this design. There are big blue boxes with "watch for pedestrians" in advance of one conflict area in each direction (but not both):
View attachment 84767
Image taken before "WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS" was added

In the initial (intended) design, there wasn't any text in the box - just these blue squares. There are a lot of shapes and symbols in the road marking vocabulary, but a big blue square is not one of them. Not here, and not in any of the countries Queens Quay visitors might be from. Any of the following would on the other hand have been appropriate: zebra crossing, ladder crossing or simple line crossing (priority crosswalk styles), shark's teeth (yield line), upstream "X" (pedestrian/railway crossover ahead), advanced yield symbols, etc.

But hey, why use road markings people have seen before when we could make up our own system and get mad at people who don't get it. Surely people on Queens Quay are there to learn a completely new system of traffic markings. It's not like they are using it to enjoy the waterfront or actually go somewhere. </sarcasm>

Since people clearly had no idea what the blue boxes where supposed to mean (shocker!), Waterfront later added the text "Watch for Pedestrians". Even if on-road text right at a conflict point were practical way of conveying information, what does that even mean? If you do spot a pedestrian, then what? "Watch for _" is typically what you'd see on roads where there is some kind of potential hazard that you might have to avoid, but in general you can proceed unless you think a collision is imminent. Common examples are where some hazard may suddenly appear on the road, such as pedestrians, deer, moose, falling rocks, and my personal favourite: trees.
View attachment 84765
Seen on Autoroute 20 in Québec


Add in the elephant's feet markings along the path, and all indications seem to suggest that pedestrians need to wait for a gap in bicycle traffic, right? Wrong! Because those were just the indications visible to cyclists. The clues visible to pedestrians indicate the exact opposite! The paving materials in the conflict zone are continuous with the sidewalk on either side, not the bicycle path. That's a very strong subconscious indicator of right of way. Also visible to pedestrians (but not as much to cyclists), there is a large stop bar on the bicycle path on one side (but not both!) of each crossing point. Pedestrians could logically assume that cyclists are expected to come to a stop. But in fact those stop bars are completely meaningless because they are not paired with a traffic control device which would require anyone to stop there, namely a traffic signal or a stop sign. And besides, with only one stop bar are cyclists expected to stop at one and wait for a gap at both crosswalks? Who knows!

To allow people to get along, traffic markings need to unanimously indicate a single priority regime. Not half indicating one way and half indicating the other. That's not "shared space", that's just bad design.
My vote is that pedestrians get priority at unsignalized crossings, because there isn't enough room for many pedestrians to wait for a gap in bicycle traffic after having crossed the road.
View attachment 84766

Stop lines
At signalized locations stop lines are indeed warranted, but on Queens Quay they are often poorly placed and always poorly designed. They cover the entire width of the bike path, which makes no sense, since the left half is for oncoming traffic. This bizarre (aesthetic?) decision means that the stop lines on Queens Quay are unrecognizeable as stopbars, which resulted in basically no one obeying them. The words "STOP HERE ON RED" have since been added to the bizarre blue boxes at signalized intersections, a classic example of applying a 'blame the users' bandaid, rather than addressing the cause of the problem, which is that the road markings are nonsensical.

But to make matters worse, there are locations where the stop bars are illogically placed, which results in some people disregarding them even if they recognize their intent.

At most intersections, the stop bars are set back about 5 metres from the road crossing, to leave enough room for pedestrians to cross in front while bikes wait at red lights. This makes good sense given the heavy volume of both pedestrian and bicycle traffic. But there aren't pedestrian crossings at all signals. At Spadina Loop (just east of Spadina) and Robertson East (just east of Rees), there are no pedestrian crossings yet the stop bars are still set back as if there were. The same is also true at Fire/EMS on the east side:
View attachment 84768

This is a case of road markings "crying wolf". There is no reason for people to stop where indicated rather than rolling up to the actual conflict point like they would naturally tend to do. People may notice that they're pointlessly stopping far back and learn to disregard the stop bars - even though there are some locations where the setback is actually warranted.

But these 5-metre examples are nothing compared to eastbound at York Street where the stop bar is set back a whopping 21 metres from the edge of the road crossing.
View attachment 84769
I am genuinely surprised that anyone ever obeys such an absurd stop bar location

The only conflict in that distance is with the pedestrians inadvertently wandering all over the poorly-marked path. Meanwhile, the signal timings conveniently ignore this ridiculous crossing - for the crossing distance of 47 metres, a 20 km/h road would need a 9-second all-way red clearance interval. But in fact it's only 4 seconds. Without the required all-way clearance time it's actually physically impossible to obey the stop bar, because you could pass it legally and still not get to the vehicle crossing before cars start occupying it.

Obviously a 9-second all-red clearance is absolutely ridiculous and would just create mass confusion. Instead, the stop bar should be moved to where people would naturally expect it: right next to the road crossing. The pedestrian crossing is so far away that it can be dealt with as an independent unsignalized crossing like I suggested above for Spadina.

Paving Materials
I could go on about the paving materials, but at this point my post is so long that I've probably lost all readers anyway. I'll just settle for a picture:
View attachment 84770

This is one of the most thoughtful pieces of writing that I have read on anything in a long time. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort.
 
Whoever designed the bicycle lanes on Queens Quay must never been to Europe, especially never to The Netherlands nor Denmark. We must reinvent everything.

They should start by putting bicycle traffic lights on the nearside of intersections, putting the pedestrian buttons away from the streetcar right-of-way and bicycle path, and have the bureaucrats actually use the bicycle lanes themselves in both Europe and here in Toronto.

 
I'm not misrepresenting what was said at all. The person in question, who was not you, said (and I quote a bit of it):

"The car is a far greater threat to all of us - let's spend our time thinking about that instead."​

"All the evidence we have suggests it is NOT a serious problem."​

And in response to my suggestion that the safety of all road users is paramount and there is no need for us to pick and choose, we got this little gem:

"Yes, we should all work for greater safety in our own lives and behaviour. But, no, when it comes to discussing policy there is only so much money, time and attention. There IS a need to pick and choose. And we should choose to focus on cars. [...]"​

Sadly, none of that is taken out of context. Because the number pedestrian deaths caused by cyclists were, in his/her opinion, quite low, (s)he very clearly stated that pedestrian safety generally vis-a-vis cyclists was a non-issue. The discussion starts roughly on page 134 of the General Cycling Issues thread if anyone is interested.

If you want to further debate who said what, I'm happy to have that discussion in the General Cycling Issues thread where that discussion took place.

That's a good summary of my arguments, which are just as convincing as ever. Thanks for that!

Cars cause literally thousands of deaths in the GTA every year. This is a fact. Where's the UT thread dedicated to discussing that problem? I look forward to reading about your outrage there too.
 
That's a good summary of my arguments, which are just as convincing as ever. Thanks for that!

Cars cause literally thousands of deaths in the GTA every year. This is a fact. Where's the UT thread dedicated to discussing that problem? I look forward to reading about your outrage there too.

FFS. That's like saying we shouldn't care about any of the topics discussed on these forums because small children are dying in South Sudan. Yes, as has been said many times by many people in these forums, many motorists should not be behind the wheel, and our road design/rules and favouring of automobiles over other road users puts people in danger and leads to unnecessary deaths every year. Honestly, the discussion about the effects of an auto-centric city pervades dozens of threads. You being smug does not mean any of us are not outraged, nor does it mean other safety issues are irrelevant.
 
Design is more effective than law enforcement. This does NOT mean "Let's not bother with law enforcement". It means that first priority should be making an intuitive design, with law-enforcement as a stopgap measure.

What does not stopping at points of crossing have to do with intuitive design? Sure there are places where the issue is design related and can be rectified, but at the end of the day, it is but one driver of behaviour.

AoD
 
... hydro has begun to destrung and de-equipe the hydro poles, starting at the pole closet to the bridge.
 
[...]Let's be clear. I'm not saying that everyone should break whatever laws they like whenever they like. I'm saying that there are clear changes we can make which will reduce law-breaking behaviour. Because as satisfying as it is to punish law-breakers, it's more beneficial to society if we reduce the rate of law-breaking in the first place. And design is far more effective at doing that than enforcement.[...]

I agree with this completely. One of the reasons many cyclists (just as an example, I am not picking on cyclists) don't adhere to some rules of the road is because those rules, and the manner in which they were implemented on our streets, were developed without any regard to any road users other than motorists. It's more than just developing clear and concise traffic markings and road design which safely accommodates all users - it's even more basic than that.

For example, people complain that cyclists often do not respect one-way streets. While there are some one-way streets which cyclists should adhere too for safety's sake (Logan Avenue between Danforth and Riverdale comes to mind), most of them exist either to reduce automobile infiltration in neighbourhoods or to facilitate automobile traffic. Why should cyclists be bound by one-way streets whose existence has nothing to do with them and which unnecessarily complicate their commute? We'd likely have much greater compliance with one-ways by cyclists if the one-ways which applied to them made sense.

Similarly, pedestrians will usually jaywalk when streets are designed to corral pedestrians to cross at locations which are convenient for car traffic but have no regard for actual pedestrian patterns. There was a great set of tweets this past weekend by Sean Marshall about what a nightmare it is for a pedestrian to walk down Spadina to the waterfront, because it literally took him almost 9 minutes to legally cross the intersection of Spadina and Lake Shore (no motorist would put up with a 9-minute red signal waiting to get through an intersection). And then we wonder why pedestrians dash across the street, hoping not to get hit.

Queens Quay at least was designed with all users in mind (cars, transit, bikes, pedestrian), which in my mind is why we need the patience to get it right. Reaper, your suggestions and comments on the design of it were very interesting.
 
What does not stopping at points of crossing have to do with intuitive design? Sure there are places where the issue is design related and can be rectified, but at the end of the day, it is but one driver of behaviour.

Yes, it is but one driver of behaviour, but it also happens to be the most significant. The more unreasonable rules and expectations there are, the more people will develop the mentality to take the rules with a grain of salt. There are a lot of good examples here - I personally identify with Skeezix's example of one-way streets which are such for traffic calming reasons, rather than traffic control. Living downtown, I would cycle south down Victoria Street until Wellington, even though it becomes one-way northbound for two blocks at King. Because even riding illegally down a quiet one-way street is still safer than the alternative, which is to cycle legally down Yonge Street.

This applies to all road users. I expect that this mentality is the same one that explains why average speeds on 400-series highways are routinely 15 km/h above the speed limit. The signs say "Maximum 100", not "Minimum 100". I was recently in New Brunswick, and I found that although their speed limits are generally higher than ours for a comparable road, people didn't actually drive any faster. In New Brunswick, when the speed limits drop to 30 for a school zone, people actually slow to 30. Ditto for an 80km/h construction zone on the highway. Because most of the time the speed limits are consistent with what people consider 'reasonable', they don't develop the mindset to take them with a grain of salt as we do here in Ontario.

So you're right that correcting these counter-intuitive designs will not single-handedly end all law-breaking behaviour. But each change we make toward a more reasonable road system will contribute toward attitudes of respect toward rules and regulations. As it stands, Queens Quay is one of the worst places for intuitive design, so it is critical to fix in order to restore road users' respect of traffic engineering.

Whoever designed the bicycle lanes on Queens Quay must never been to Europe, especially never to The Netherlands nor Denmark. We must reinvent everything.

The design was done by West 8, a firm from Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Which explains why they got the basic layout right, with separate bike paths and sidewalks, etc. But being architects rather than engineers, they got a lot of the details wrong.

They should start by putting bicycle traffic lights on the nearside of intersections, putting the pedestrian buttons away from the streetcar right-of-way and bicycle path, and have the bureaucrats actually use the bicycle lanes themselves in both Europe and here in Toronto.

In Ontario, traffic signals must be on the far side of intersections. There can be lights on the near side (several exist for northbound movements at Queens Quay), but they must be in addition to lights on the far side. And I don't see any benefit to near-side lights in this case, given that we don't use them in North America. I kept getting tripped up by near-side lights in The Netherlands, especially in two-stage crossings (I am used to interpreting them as applying to the crossing before the lights, not the one after).

Putting the crossing buttons before the bike path would make the crossing part of the signalized intersection, increasing Flashing Don't Walk times and east-west red durations. I don't recommend that. Also, no one is going to wait for a 'dont Walk' signal that only crosses a bike path. It would make the rates of non-compliance even worse than today.
 

Back
Top