Bicycle Network: Good Design Guides
Tuning and modifying signals to take account of bike traffic can increase the throughput and efficiency of a route and reduce risks to riders.
27 August 2009
A number of signal upgrades have been successfully completed in recent months, clearly showing the importance of good signal design in developing better routes for riders.
Canning at Elgin
Bicycle lanterns have been added on both sides of the intersection. Previously the only bike lantern was on the far side. These additional lanterns will assist motorists who are sometimes confused by the early appearance of the bike green and the movement of riders.
VicRoads reports to Bicycle Network Victoria member Ben that 'the bike display runs when Canning Street runs (the photo shows Canning crossing Elgin). But if the Canning Street phase is demanded by the pedestrian phase across Elgin Street, the pedestrian and bike lanterns display together. The bike lantern displays 10 seconds before the motor vehicle green.
This, explains VicRoads, is to provide less time for Canning Street vehicle traffic when there is a pedestrian call up. Motor vehicles receive 11 seconds in this situation.
This programming reflects three principles. First an early phase for bikes (and pedestrians) to get them started and out of the way of turning motor vehicles. Second a short time allocation for motor vehicles to stop a rat run developing on a minor residential street. Third allowing enough time for a pedestrian to cross the road.
Canning at Princes
The photo shows 20 riders queueing to cross Princes St.
The programming of the signals has been changed in the evening peak to address the problem of motor vehicles queueing across the intersection blocking the path of pedestrians and riders.
The problem arose because the vehicles were already stationery across the crossing while queueing for the intersection downstream when the crossing signals were activated.
VicRoads has changed the relationship of the crossing to the downstream arterial road intersection.
The crossing now opens earlier stopping the vehicles before the queue tails back across the intersection.
Scotchmer and Pigdon
These signals had an early pedestrian phase â€” just visible in the photo in the bottom left hand corner.
A bike lantern has now been added to allow the riders to cross early with the pedestrians.
Unlike the Canning/Elgin case above where the bike lantern rotates through a green-amber-red cycle, these lanterns appear green and then when the main signal is green, the bike lantern drops out.
Riders then take their information from the main signal.
The Napier Street signals are covered on their own page.
Their significance lies partly in their location at the intersection. They replace a pedestrian crossing offset from the intersection.
The former pedestrian crossing supported the school nearby but forced pedestrians travelling along Napier to detour west away from the alignment of Napier to cross Johnson Street. They then had to travel east again to regain Napier.
Riders opportunistically took the benefit of the signals called up by pedestrians to cross Johnson. 52% picked a gap in traffic, 17% waited for a pedestrian to operate the signals 30% rode over to the pedestrian signals and operated them as shown in the photo.
Picking a gap in traffic was risky and there were casualty accidents at the site. Waiting for a pedestrian reduced the reliability and predictability of the route, making it less attractive as a transport route. Riding over to the signals put the riders â€” usually adults â€” on the footpath and pedestrian crossings and therefore outside the regulations.
The Napier Street template has to pass three tests. The new alignment has been shown to be immediately pass two of these tests.
The alignment is clearly more favourable for both pedestrians and riders. On these two factors we would strongly recommend that this approach is taken where possible.
There is one more factor to resolve at Napier St. The evaluation needs to confirm that the signals have not significantly increased rat running along local residential streets. Other local area traffic management measures may need to be taken to reduce the attractiveness of this new set of signals for non resident motorists. Once we are sure that the Napier template passes that test then we will be strongly recommending their adoption in similar circumstances.