Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Traffic Signals and Bicycle Coordination

by Nicole Serafin

One of the great things about Montreal is the harmony between pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Unlike Boston, each and every user of the road is not only aware of, but respects other users. This means that pedestrians wait to cross the road, while motorists yield to cyclists while turning, etc.

The traffic signal coordination is awesome! The signals are set up so that initially everyone gets a green through arrow. This allows cyclists to continue along the bike lane or cycle track, as well as pedestrians to start crossing the cross street prior to vehicles being able to make turns. After a few seconds, vehicles will then get a green ball, or other permission to turn.

Similar to a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI), by allowing cyclists and pedestrians to move into the intersection prior to turns being allowed, the number of conflicts is greatly reduced. The idea is that accidents that may be caused by a right hook, or left cross are reduced since the pedestrian or cyclist will be occupying the crosswalk well before a vehicle. Even if they are still occupying the space, their presence is very evident to drivers.

This configuration of signals differs from an LPI that we may be use to, because instead of holding traffic completely for a few seconds, through traffic that would not be in conflict with the pedestrians or cyclists is allowed to continue. This results in short cycle times, less delay, and results in better intersection operation. This coordination works well for all users, and is something I would like to see used more often in the United States.

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