Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for April 17th, 2007


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I have written previously in this blog about my preference for roundabouts as an intersection design. And how the intersection of Granville and Garden City in Richmond needs to be rethought.

This post cannot refer you to its source as it is only available to ITE members, but it is published in a peer reviewed journal (ITE Journal, March 2007) “A Comparative Study of the Safety Performance of Roundabouts and Traditional Intersection Controls” By Shashi S. Nambisan PhD PE and Venu Parimi EIT which was presented by the authors at the ITE 2005 Annual Meeting.

The evaluation compares the traffic crashes in the proximity of modern UK style roundabouts and intersections in Las Vegas NV, using a 5 year data set. A UK style roundabout differs from a traffic circle in that vehicles entering the roundabout must give way to traffic already in the circle. This differs from the way that US traffic circles traditionally operate, with priority given to vehicles entering the circle.

The study compares six roundabouts to eight conventional intersections. “The injury crashes at conventional intersections are significantly higher than at the roundabouts”. “Most of the crashes at the roundabouts (nearly 60 per cent) were found to be minor sideswipe collisions” “Nearly 48 percent of the the crashes at the subject STOP controlled/signalized intersections were caused by the driver’s failure to yield to traffic. Most of the crashes at the subject roundabouts were caused due to improper lane changes, inattentive driving and making improper turns.”

So, what a roundabout does is end the carnage due to red light and STOP sign running and turn these collisions into minor sideswipes. But mainly what happens is that drivers have to become active in entering the intersection, and look for a safe gap to merge into the flow around the roundabout – just as we do now when merging onto a freeway. But it happens more slowly and over a shorter distance. The “T Bone” collision we see at STOP signs and red lights is a thing of the past. Collisions occur at conventional junctions because one driver either does not notice or, more likely, deliberately flouts the rules. One driver sees a yellow light and speeds up: the other driver sees a green light so decides to proceed without checking to see if the intersection is clear. Bang.

At a roundabout the sign is clear: it says “Yield”. You have to stop and look before proceeding. If there is a collision it’s because someone isn’t paying attention or is pushing his luck. Either way, the outcome is less likely to be injury or a very expensive. Roundabouts do reduce collisions, but they still occur, they just don’t cause as much damage. A good principle to apply to most urban traffic management .

So here, courtesy of Google Maps and Windows Paint, is my free for the taking redesign of the worst intersection in Richmond.


And for those who need references

Federal Highway Administration – Safety Brief

Information guide

TRB Modern Roundabout Design

and the second installment added May 31

Written by Stephen Rees

April 17, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Symbols needed for transit clarity

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Vancouver Sun: op ed page

Symbols are used to show transit users where telephones and elevators are. They also show users that no food, drink, pets, smoking or ghetto blasters are allowed on the SkyTrain. This is not helpful to those transit users who have no idea where they’re going, and frustration is aggravating their nicotine addiction. The need for clear signage is not news to TransLink. In 2005, visiting transit users, mostly tourists or students, who gave Vancouver’s transit system low satisfaction scores in a survey, commonly cited “no info available,” and “not enough signs.” TransLink responded with more signs — not better signs, just more of them.

TransLink has reportedly been considering using the international “T” symbol to mark out transit stops and stations. This would be a step in the right direction, but it hasn’t yet been adopted.

Montreal Metro signYes but a “T”? Is that really a internationally recognized transit symbol? Many systems (including Moscow and Washington CD) use the letter “M” for their Metro (after the first underground railway in the world – London’s Metropolitan Line) or in the case of Montreal a simple arrow.Moscow

These pictograph symbols are used around the world

23_bus_inv.gif 25_railtransportation_inv.gif

I can’t say I like the train much but these are in use at some SkyTrain stations

And the bus symbol is on Translink’s bus stops – and on some the words Bus Stop do not appear – not even sideways!
FS No 3 at Williams sb flag

The Americans while following a different strategy for road signs (The Uniform Manual being quite different to the ISO standard used in the rest of the world) has adopted something similar, but much more complicated (see page 21) . Of course these are not mandated – and there is a long pdf document from the Wold Tourism Organisation that resists me cutting and pasting other symbols for the same things – see pages 110 onwards

For me the London Transport roundel is still the best example of good graphic design and in its day it was years ahead of the rest of the world. It was originally supplemented by writing on the cross bar – the station name, or the words “Bus Stop” and of course you can see the symbol all over Vancouver but usually co-opted (illegally) to push some commercial activity or other – selling computers or even a pharmacyLT Bus stop

I have seen the symbol in use in St Lucia on bus stops – some bus drivers retired back home there and brought the idea with them I suspect.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 17, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Posted in Transportation

“The class minefield that is Britain today”

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 | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

“Another indicator is marmalade. Thin, runny, hand-made marmalade is a sign of being upper class, whereas firm, gelatinous marmalade is common. Why? It’s just one of those things. Upper-class people make their own marmalade, and they tend to prefer it runny, probably because they’ve got lots of people to clear up the mess.”

Cor blimey guv! I’m upper class!!

Or just not very patient when it comes to making jam. You are supposed to test it on a cold saucer and I swear that mine formed a skin. It just didn’t set. And I made pounds of the stuff. And it is not getting eaten because of the mess it makes.

The article is actually more about why Kate split up with what’s ‘is name. But frankly I could not care less. I am a working class lad from the East End – although my parents were both very concerned that we spoke proper BBC English. Not ‘orribe “Kafarine Cockney” (like the sort of people who went to the Boleen to watch the ‘Ammers) . The Henry Higgins thing has long been one of my favourite games. Though the idea that you could place anyone in Lisson Grove by the way they talk is silly. Though there is a definite accent difference between where I come from and Sarf Lunnon.

And in case you think that class doesn’t matter, you should try one of those shared chalet holidays where all the gels are Sloane Rangers. Never again.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 17, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Coastal passenger rail service needs rapid improvement

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The Province

Improving basic passenger rail service between Vancouver and Seattle, for example, has failed to receive the attention it deserves — despite the fact that efficient high-speed trains would clearly provide a big boost to tourism and other economic development in our region

It is nice to see the Province editorial. Of course going from one through train to two is only a small start. This is the sort of thing that should have happened long ago.

Recent picture of teh Cascades

The service to Seattle will now become something that people who live here can consider, but the timetable is critical. Seattle should be a day trip – unless of course you are just going to buy stuff, in which case you need to be out of Canada for 48 hours to make it worthwhile and legal. The present late starts and leisurely pace on the service from Seattle to Vancouver only gives visitors a few hours here. The day trip market will not start to open up until there are faster, earlier (and later return) trains.

Written by Stephen Rees

April 17, 2007 at 9:58 am

Posted in Transportation