18 St & 25 Ave SW

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The intersection of 18 St and 25 Ave SW in Calgary’s Bankview is quiet and sleepy through and through. No bus routes or large vehicles use it on a regular basis.

Currently the intersection is made to be overly wide as it curves in an attempt to connect more seamlessly with the next section of 18 St. a couple houses down 25 Ave. In reality this curve adds unnecessary size and complexity to a quiet residential intersection. Results of this can be seen with the enormous crossing distance on the south side of the street. The crossing here measures roughly 44 meters, which is equivalent to crossing a 11 lane highway.

Grandma better have her hiking shoes on.

The City of Calgary has even deployed some traffic calming here, similar to what they piloted in Erin Woods. At this intersection, the traffic calming device is essentially an oval concrete block with a stop sign attached to it that acts as a lane divider. This helps to ensure motorists make turns within their own lane instead of taking the turn at a smoother, faster speed by cutting into oncoming traffic. It’s a decent quick fix to end that one bad habit, but the problems aren’t close to solved as the crossing for pedestrians remains unnescesarilly long and residents are left with wide lanes that incentivize speed over safety.

Here are photos of the intersection 6 hours after a snowfall. I have outlined the curbs and the areas of untouched snow to make it easier to understand what’s happening:

When you look at the snow covered street they give you a good sense that much of the space is unused but not a great sense of how that space can be re-purposed or used more effectively. The unused snow covered areas are scattered around the intersection.

old-curbs-old-turns

In this image above, we’ve outlined where the turns are that can be made at this intersection using the tracks in the snow from the images taken after a snowfall.

Through the redesign below we’ve compressed the intersection. The compressed intersection still enables turns from large vehicles while unlocking space and building a safer more predictable intersection for all road users.

new-curbs

We’ve ensured semi trucks can make the turns with the assumption that these vehicles can use the oncoming lanes to make the turn. This is an assumption made in many Canadian cities when designing streets that don’t see heavy truck traffic. This is true especially where widening lanes to ensure occasional 18-wheelers can make all turns in their own lane would negatively impact pedestrian safety. Learn more about corner radii here.

new-curbs-new-turns

The end result here with the redesign is 3500 sq. ft. of reclaimed space, an intersection that has been squared up nicely and the pedestrian experience has been improved dramatically. The crossing distance where pedestrians are most exposed has been reduced by 85%. It’s pretty stunning.

Where the curb extensions are residents would lose 5-6 parking stalls and they would gain 3500 square feet of space to do as they wish.

I would love to see this space transformed into a little neighbourhood plaza or gathering space. It could look like a scaled down version of this example of a slip lane that was converted into a small public square.

ezgif-com-optimize

In the short term, a cheap fix would be to use temporary materials like paint, bollards, and road markings precisely the way Seattle did in this example.

If you see any areas of untouched snow in your neighbourhood be sure to snap a photo and send it over.

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