It Just Works: Davis Quietly Debuts America’s First Protected Intersection

Images: City of Davis

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

The city that brought America the bike lane 48 years ago this summer has done it again.

Davis, California — population 66,000, bike commuting rate 20 percent — finished work last week on a new intersection design ordered up by a city council member who had decided that initial plans didn’t measure up to streets he’d ridden in the Netherlands.

A year later, with the help of Dutch consulting firm Mobycon, Council Member Brett Lee’s proposal for a protected intersection has arrived at Covell Boulevard and J Street. And as the Davis Enterprise reported Sunday, it’s working perfectly:

There were no standing diagrams on the street, no big street signs attached to traffic light poles announcing the difference between a standard American intersection and the Dutch-styled one people were passing through.

Everyone went in blind.

Yet for busy lunch hour traffic — well, for summer — on a Friday afternoon, motorists along Covell Boulevard zipped on through, with bicyclists, pedestrians and skateboarders seamlessly following their paths across the so-called “Dutch junction” — modeled after designs in the bike-friendly Netherlands.

No one died. No near misses. Nothing even close. Just history in the making no one seemed to notice.

It’s exactly what fans of protected intersections would have predicted for a design that arranges traffic so people on bikes and in cars can easily make eye contact with one another without looking over their shoulders.

Davis, it turned out, wasn’t alone in its vision. Austin has already built two protected intersections in a still-uninhabited part of a new development and expects people to start using them in the next few months. It’s planning two more.

Salt Lake City is currently building another downtown and plans to open it in the first week of October. Boston and Sacramento are planning their own.

“What did surprise me was how intuitive the intersection is,” Davis bicycle coordinator Jennifer Donofrio said Monday. “Observing people use the intersection, they are able to use it without any sort of education or any sort of guidance.”

How Davis’s new intersection works

Hard to explain; simple to use.

The Davis intersection, which sits on a major east-west street at the entrance to a new mixed-use subdivision on the north edge of town, is unusual in a few ways.

The large street, Covell, offers both a multi-use path on its south side and bike lanes on its road bed. The bike lanes emerge from right-turn slip lanes at other intersections, and Donofrio said they’re generally used by faster and more confident riders.

In this version of the protected intersection, people using the bike lanes have an option to make a 90-degree turn near the intersection behind the eye-shaped corner refuge island. But they’re probably more likely to proceed straight across the intersection as they would on any U.S. design.

People on the multi-use path, however, are prompted to bend their path out slightly as they approach the intersection.

This has two big advantages. First, it gives people biking and walking a shorter crossing distance and a head start compared to people driving, so someone turning right in a car can easily see whether they’ll need to yield.

Second, the extra space is just long enough for a car to turn and let other cars moving straight ahead pass behind it. The person in the turning car can see anyone crossing on bike and foot by looking straight ahead, and people in the crosswalk and bike lane can easily tell which cars are making the turn.

Davis’s plans predate the video made last year by designer Nick Falbo, who assembled a list of four basic characteristics of protected intersections in an American context. And it doesn’t include one of his ingredients: bike-friendly signal timing, such as giving people on bike and foot a crossing signal a few seconds before people in cars get one.

Donofrio said Davis had considered this but decided against it.

Any city looking to use bike-specific signals faces hurdles. More than half of the traffic engineers who sit on the private committee that regulates U.S. traffic signals are skeptical of bike signals and have tightly restricted their use.

In any case, Donofrio said she’s happy the intersection is working so well so far. With another such intersection already operating in Vancouver, B.C., protected intersections will soon be operating in almost every region of North America, showing people just how easy they are to use.

“When I was out there on Friday, I saw probably six or seven bikes just in the 15 minutes I was out there,” she said. “And all young kids, too. And they were all by themselves, riding through the intersection.”

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54 thoughts on It Just Works: Davis Quietly Debuts America’s First Protected Intersection

  1. Haven’t been there but this design seems really odd and confusing. Can anyone post a video showing the design more clearly? The diagram makes it look like it has 90 degree angles and odd merges with cars, that seem very much at odds with the whole concept of a protected intersection.

  2. On a recent visit to Davis, I noticed (or maybe my daughter pointed out) the bicycle-only traffic signals at one of the intersections east of downtown. Apparently this location met the criteria for such signals, or the city traffic staff just thought it was a good idea for a town that is considered one of the top ten bike-friendly cities in the US.

  3. Looks great! It lets vehicular cyclists, the two percent of the population who enjoy biking with cars, continue to duke it out with cars, and lets the other ninety-eight percent have a pleasant, less stressful biking experience. The only problem is the shared use path with pedestrians. Pedestrians and bicyclists should each have their own dedicated car-free space.

  4. This video explains the general concept pretty well:

    When I lived in the Netherlands I found this intersection setup very common and intuitive. Even though it’s a new setup in the US it sounds like people catch on pretty quickly once they come across it.

    Indeed, when I moved to the Netherlands I had never seen such an intersection but it quickly became intuitive and, frankly, a no-brainer that I wondered why didn’t have such treatments in the US.

    A few years later, and we do!

  5. This is really exciting! And a huge milestone for US biking/walking infrastructure.

    When I moved the Netherlands it quickly occurred to me that this type of ubiquitous intersection design was one of the main elements that made biking there so low-stress. Once you experience it in person you find it’s intuitive and just…works.

    It is a best practice to include bike-specific signalization, however. I hope Davis is able to implement this in the future.

    By the way, these types of setups aren’t just for great for people on bikes–they’re also more pleasant to walk through as crosswalk distances are reduced and the same angles that significantly reduce car-bike conflicts also of course benefit people on foot. Another important point–people using wheelchairs or mobility devices are also often much-better served in these types of intersections.

    Now that this type of intersection is live and operating in California it’s already starting to pass from That Exotic European Thing That’ll Never Work Here to something that just…works. And works within the context of US road standards, ADA compliance, etc.

    Great job Davis and Mobycon! Can’t wait to go check it out in person soon.

  6. Yes, I think Davis’s diplomatic approach is pragmatic as it allows for VCs to continue biking on the arterial as always while everyone else can also bike in a low-stress fashion removed from a busy arterial. It’s also interesting how Davis allows for the hybrid approach–you can either:

    1) bike totally on-street and VC, even for left turns, as always

    2) or bike on-street and use these optional “onramp” bike channels onto the shared protected path just during the intersection (VCs may realize how beneficial this truly can be, especially for right turns which do not require a stop on red in a protected intersection unlike VCing).

    3) use the protected paths mid-block and at the intersection entirely

    When I go visit the intersection this weekend I may even time what it’s like to do a VC turn (both left and right) vs. using the protected intersection. Of course, to the average person on a bike, most don’t care whether it takes X seconds to do one over the other as long as it’s a safe, low-stress experience.

    Agreed about the shared pathway, though at least the intersection it looks visually clear as to where people on bikes and foot wait and there are also separate crossbikes and crosswalks. Mid-block it may just be a shared pathway (what Caltrans calls Class I paths), which Davis has a history of doing.

    Part of the justification may also be that due to the relatively low density of the area the majority of people passing through the intersection will be by car or bike, not foot. In addition, Davis has a long history of Class I paths alongside arterials so people there are pretty used to shared pathways. I did see in some of Davis’s documents that they would consider delineating separate bike and walking channels on the Class I at a future date if there turned out to be a need for it.

  7. So are all sidewalks on this road “shared-use paths”? The combination of shared paths and bike lanes seems really weird, and it seems like it makes it hard for drivers/cyclists/pedestrians to know what to expect. Also, if they are shared paths, then why have the circular bike turn lanes that aren’t at all in line with the actual path you’d take as a cyclist?

    Seems over-engineered to please everyone, making it unnecessarily complicated. You’d never see something like this in the Netherlands.

  8. I feel this is again appropiate:

    http://i.imgur.com/BAZ3gLD.gif

    Also, great to hear that the rumored protected intersection at 12th/C in Sac will indeed be happening. Apparently Sac is finally learning a thing or two from its neighbor Davis. And with yesterday’s reported news on SF Streetsblog about several likely upcoming protected intersections in Menlo Park (Bay Area suburb), it’s already starting to get hard to keep track of all the places currently planning/constructing these:

    Davis, CA
    Sacramento, CA
    Menlo Park, CA
    Salt Lake City, UT
    Austin, TX
    Boston, MA

    Davis’s own documents have mentioned an upcoming protected intersection in Lincoln, Nebraska, though I’ve found it difficult to find much info about it online. Regardless, the great thing about the roster above is that they really do span the country and show it’s not just a “Californian thing” but can apply to a broad set of city and climate types.

    Any others?

  9. Davis has a long history of shared multiuse (Caltrans Class I) paths alongside arterials while *also* allowing for the option of on-street biking, so this won’t likely come off as weird to many Davisites.

    Remember that in such relatively low-density areas the majority of people passing through this corridor at any given time are likely to be bikes and cars, as with many other areas in Davis. For example, here’s that same arterial in another area–not exactly the kind of place that encourages high levels of walk modeshare:

    http://www.crimevoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/east-covell.jpg

    Also note that in Davis’s own planning documents they cite the option to delineate separate bike and walking ways alongside the Class I ROW in the future if necessary.

    But, again, with Davis’s history of Class I path setups like this + the relatively low levels of walking + option of on-street bike facilities + culture of bike bells/polite “on your left” callouts I wouldn’t expect it to be too big of a deal.

    In addition, note that in the intersection the crossbike/crosswalk areas are clearly separated anyway.

  10. Also note that while the provision of the option of *both* on-street and separated paths doesn’t really have a common analog in the Netherlands, the Netherlands definitely *does* have shared-use paths where people on bike and foot commingle. For example, the following image below from the Netherlands is not a simple sidewalk but a shared-use space for both people on foot and bike:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/86/Vrijliggend_fietspad.JPG

    Just as in Davis, the Netherlands typically does this in fairly spread-out low-density/suburban areas where walk modeshare is relatively low.

  11. I’m really disappointed they didn’t force all cyclists to use the safe protected intersection. This idea of letting cyclists chose is asinine and should be outlawed by some FHWA rule.

    I’m all for protected and segregate high-quality bike infrastructure, but its use should, once in place, be compulsory, no exceptions to cowboys on wheels wanting to mingle with road vehicles, the same way cars are not allowed on pedestrianized streets.

  12. I’m guessing this provision was added to appease VC advocates whose experience with subpar separated infra in the past has led them to believe that protected infra = bad and thus advocate against any infra.

    While I totally understand your sentiment, if the All of the Above approach is what gets the adjacent 8-to-80 infrastructure built in the first place…I’ll take it. VC-only ridership will likely be small percentages, anyhow.

    I suspect that as more people experience a protected intersection they’ll realize how awesome and even faster it can be. After all, even many VCs will probably start to realize that it’s pretty great that in one fell swoop half your turns are immediately free and fast even on a red–which is not true VCing.

    Davis also subtly nudges on-road bikers to try it out by including optional channelized “onramps” to the protected intersection from the road.

  13. I could not disagree more. I’m not a cowboy. I’m a Bike League Certified Instructor (LCI 4661) and I am more comfortable on the roads than I am on a sidewalk where the risks presented by pedestrians, people with dogs, etc. are FAR greater than the risks of traffic. This is a fine approach. It lets me go my way and you go your way.

  14. Agreed–Mobycon (Dutch consulting firm Davis was working with) actually suggested a roundabout there, but Davis passed. I wonder if in the future Davis will reconsider their advice for future intersections as these types of setups can work quite well:

    https://youtu.be/wEXD0guLQY0

    As for why Davis declined:

    Mobycon also proposed a “Turbo Roundabout” for this intersection; however, staff and City Council are concerned with bicyclist and pedestrian safety when crossing a multilane facility without dedicated crossing signals. Physical space required, synchronization of signals, and ADA compliance are also contributing factors in selecting the Dutch Junction (intersection) over the Turbo Roundabout.

    http://city-council.cityofdavis.org/Media/Default/Documents/PDF/CityCouncil/CouncilMeetings/Agendas/20141007/06-E-Covell-Corridor-Study.pdf

  15. Interesting, thanks for the follow up. Agreed that this works better in places with few pedestrians, so when we hold this up as an example we should be sure to note that.

  16. I was just in Lincoln two weeks ago and they’re powering ahead with their first cycletrack. I didn’t hear any talk of what else it would have, but there are a lot of other intersecting bikeways on the cross streets and as SLC said, “it just makes sense”.

  17. Where else besides the Netherlands? I didn’t know other countries used this design. Denmark and Sweden do not, as far as I know.

  18. @andrelot:disqus, I agree. That was the first thing I noticed and was quite surprised by it, especially coming from Mobycon. I think multiple options for the same movement could be confusing for bicycle riders and perhaps worse for motorists.

    That said, I do agree with @disqus_2xADSo7Zq7:disqus (Gezellig) It’ll be interesting to see how this works over time.

  19. In big Dutch cities these designs are used extensively. People just get used to it the same way they get used to interact with cars on signs. They don’t treat cycle lanes (which are often busy as well) as part of the pedestrian ROW, and don’t push strolled over them.

  20. The design is most robust and commonplace in the Netherlands, though a few echoes of it are possible to find in other places–you’re right, though, it is oddly absent in Denmark, which is known for its statistically less safe intersections and lower modeshare. I’m not sure why Denmark insists on these:

    https://ramblershighway.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/dsc05982.jpg

    After all, there’s nothing special or angelic about Dutch drivers, either. Indeed, in the rare places in the Netherlands where protected intersections are absent, they also tend to work poorly for people on bikes. Check this out:

    https://youtu.be/TemAwgUrWJc

    Notice how in the first seconds of the Before (unprotected) intersection the driver turning right barely misses the poor woman on the bike trying to cross the intersection–as in the US the driver should not have entered if she was anywhere in the intersection, but old unprotected design encouraged reckless turns. The woman even looked back nervously like “whew, that was close.”

    Nick Falbo’s site http://www.protectedintersection.com references examples of protected setups from various countries but you’ll notice they often are not up to Dutch best practices in various ways–for example the angles still often encourage car/bike conflicts.

    That last point is at least one Davis appears to have gotten right. It really is crucial for there to be the advanced stop position for bikes and then if all else fails one full car length before the crossbike and crosswalk so drivers face people on foot and bike face on after turning rather than mid-turn at a surprise angle:

    http://41.media.tumblr.com/7e5bfd41371d7b60f717ad027b531862/tumblr_n1tmgd430b1s5r3bco3_r1_1280.png

    http://peopleforbikes.org/page/-/uploads/GLP/protected%20intersection%20room%20for%20car.JPG

    I’m going to go check this intersection out in Davis this weekend to see how it plays out in person.

  21. There are a few cities such as in Sweden (Malmo), Germany (Bremen) and Belgium (Antwerp and Ghent), that have some intersections that kind of resemble the typical Dutch intersection: physical separation from cars (unlike what’s common in Denmark) and designed so that right turns are free. Malmo has some decent quality bicycle infrastructure, especially compared to the other three, though none of them come anywhere near the Dutch, overall. You can even see some of them with google maps. I’m sure there are more examples scattered throughout other cities in those countries.

  22. The problem is you open a whole can of worms by doing that given that most bike infrastructure is substandard. Are you going to evaluate each and every piece of bike infrastructure before deciding if it should be mandatory or not? Who would do the evaluating, clueless public servants or people who actually ride regularly? What would be the standards to declare a piece of infrastructure “good enough” to make it mandatory? Being able to use it at 20 mph? 25 mph? Would downgrades where higher speeds are achieved be taken into account? You can easily see how quickly this becomes complicated.

    Most likely what would happen is you would build a very small amount of decent infrastructure and then end up with a blanket rule requiring cyclists to use bike infrastructure if it’s present, regardless of the quality. That’s exactly what so-called VCs (and a lot of non-VCs) fear. I’m not even sure I would want to be required to use the bike lanes in this intersection. They look like they might have a lot of conflicts with pedestrians. They also don’t look like they would be safe to use at more than maybe 15 mph.

    The US has a very long way to go before it has enough good bike infrastructure to require its use. Arguably, you would need standards like 20 to 25 mph in urban areas, 30+ mph in rural or suburban ones, before you could make such a rule. In the final analysis bikes are transportation. If you artificially constrain them to half their potential speed with poor infrastructure, people will pick other options, like driving.

  23. In Germany you see a lot of variations of this, depending on the age of the intersection.

  24. Maybe “standard” was misleading. I meant to say you see similar things in a lot of places.

  25. Sure, yeah, some pics below of what the area looked like prior to the reconfig–you can see that even the original shared path alongside the arterial is quite wide and accommodates people in both directions using bikes and wheelchairs but no question it would start to fail if more than the occasional pedestrian ever showed up:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9888d0917b7562fd87ab43d3456e5bae7a7a9059b1f34261440e8ebfdadac758.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bee2ea6e821f9b8e35923a0d9d832706d7ca9f2e65b75599f22a0eae8951334d.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/53871555fe867b74b5792d404b40451f23b40f620f221d895c8ea4754f9eb078.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/74a46a1eb80bab4c2cd0c66252056984993449059b0dd04fa5683fc0e34a482e.jpg

  26. With the adjacent development going in I still think Davis should hew to best practices such as separate sidewalks and bike-specific signalization, but I do have to say the way the intersection now looks is way better.

    Even in these Streetview pics you can even get the sense that the people on the path are always kind of like, “ugh I have to cross….THAT?”

  27. Ew, Heavens no. I bike because it’s the most efficient way to get around. Making slow designs like shared-use paths and two-stage lefts mandatory would be an excellent way to get me to stop bicycling.

  28. Cmon now. The headline was “It just works” which means that cyclists can no longer complain. Look how much money they must have spent on this! And all you need to do is run into some pedestrians on this fancy new shared path. I’d definitely just stay on the road, because that’s always been the easiest and safest way to ride. (Oh I know, someone probably has a study from a few decades ago to counter that. I don’t care. A single left turn with only one point of conflict is far safer than crossing the road twice, making two left turns, all while mixing with pedestrians and confusing drivers.)

  29. When I go check out the intersection I’m really curious to time both a VC left and one using the protected lanes. It’s rare to have both treatments available at an intersection so it’ll be interesting to test out.

    One option may be faster than the other depending on what time you hit the intersection. After all, the intersection looks like it has a separate signal cycle for vehicular left turns. This means that even when forward traffic has a green you’d still need to wait at a red light in the left-turn bay.

    Don’t forget, too, that right turns on a red at a protected intersection are guaranteed faster since you are not required to stop. When these treatments are implemented pervasively that really adds up since in fell swoop 50% of all of your turns do not require a stop no matter what the light says.

    Another thing to remember, too, is that many people don’t really care whether it’s X seconds to do a turn as long as it’s low-stress, convenient and safe. In the end, the data on modeshare and safety per capita will be the proof in the pudding.

  30. It’s worth noting many cyclists don’t bother stopping regardless of what the light says if traffic is clear. That’s the only time a separate left turn phase might delay cyclists. As for rights, even on regular roads you can just about always sneak in a right on red without any conflicts. In fact, that’s what I do on my recreational rides. When I hit a red and traffic is too heavy to go straight, I turn right so I can stay in motion. I’ve almost never had a conflict doing this. So that part of it is mostly a wash.

    The only time the two-stage left might be faster is in the case of heavy vehicular traffic where you would wait a long time to go into the left turn bay. Or if you’re lucky, hit the green light on the road you’re turning from right before it goes red, get across the perpendicular street, then immediately get the green light to complete your turn. It may turn out to be a wash compared to a VC style left turn or not overall. VC style lefts would win hands down on any lightly trafficked street given that you can carry all your speed through the turn unless there’s a rare case of opposing traffic.

  31. A couple of the photos seem to show people on bikes going clockwise around the intersection, but from the diagram it seems like you’re supposed to go counter-clockwise?

  32. I think as Class I paths they’re bidirectional, so you can probably go either direction. Davis has a history of putting Class I paths adjacent to roadways, so Davisites are pretty used to this. In fact, even before the intersection reconfig there was a Class I path along the southern side of Covell. When you look at the area on StreetView you can see it was clearly made wide enough for this purpose:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ab707cd8082ac466d8534298c3b879403813dab528b568d4f4d87b8beb2e9c9b.jpg
    Compare to adjacent sidewalk width

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9888d0917b7562fd87ab43d3456e5bae7a7a9059b1f34261440e8ebfdadac758.jpg
    Notice people on both bikes and wheelchair going both directions

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/bee2ea6e821f9b8e35923a0d9d832706d7ca9f2e65b75599f22a0eae8951334d.jpg

    She clearly was also coming from the east

  33. One thing that should be pointed out here, too, is that at least some of these paths are bidirectional (will confirm when I go in person in a couple days). That would also have implications for how you do your left turns using the protected intersection (just as people on foot needing to cross have a choice depending on which light cycle turns green first for them).

    For example, let’s say you’re biking eastbound on Covell, want to turn left to go north on Cannery Ave (called J St south of Covell) and you see a yellow light. You could either:

    1) merge lanes left into the left-turn bay and wait for a green left-turn arrow to do a VC left or

    2) join the near side of the protected intersection and use the immediate crossbike to go north on the bike/ped green while eastbound/westbound car traffic is stopped.

    I’ll try out a bunch of these options in person when I go and verify the bidirectionality thing.

  34. Good for a first foray. It is nice to see the concept finally getting the light of day, but I have a couple of qualms with this one and I’m not sure that I’d call it best practice to be emulated just yet. My concerns are these:

    1. The lack of ‘shark teeth’ yield markings, either for the crossing or the cars. One or the other needs it, frequent Dutch practice would be to apply them pointing toward the cars to signal a yield to the bikeway.

    2. The protective island doesn’t slow traffic, it’s only as good as the radius on which it’s attached. In this case, the radius is as large as ever, so the slowing effect will be marginal. That’s where the previous measure comes in handy and which brings me to my next point.

    3. Lack of bike-specific signals or at least a red signal to prevent the conflicting right turns from Covell. While I certainly have seen the protected intersection design used without signals in The Netherlands, I don’t recall ever seeing one of those locations on roads that have multiple through lanes and a RTO lane. To me, those all sound like warrants to put in at the very least, a right-turn signal as well as restrict right turns on red off “K” St. The concern is heightened by the fact that this is a bidirectional facility. I’ve seen it in existence, but again, only in situations with fewer lanes.

    4. While we’re on the subject of signals, how do these work for bikes, especially those making the left turn? Even without bike-specific signals, they should still use loop detectors in the bikeway to keep bikes from having to stop as much as possible, but it doesn’t appear that that has been done. Ideally, they would also be able to trigger early greens, green insertions, and a bike-specific signal length so that the light isn’t red by time the rider reaches the center.

    5. Speaking of the center, there really should be median refuge islands on at a minimum, Covell. I have also seen Dutch roads without islands, but I can’t recall that situation on any that had multiple lanes for through traffic.

    6. Another piece that needs close attention is the transition to the intersection from a bike lane. It should be smooth and perhaps it is better in real life than the map makes it look. Especially since it looks like they have the space to make sure that it is seamless.

    Those are the changes that it is necessary to address before this intersection can truly be first rate. I say all this not to denigrate that Davis has done, but because Davis is seen as a leader. Since this is such a new concept here in America and people are going to undoubtedly be looking to this one as an example of the pinnacle, there is a real danger for others to take shortcuts based on this that has itself already cut some corners. Davis needs to address these issues, especially the ones that have to do with signalling, as soon as possible.

  35. Update: for anyone who’s curious I went this weekend and checked out the intersection in person. My takeaways:

    –> as others have noted, it really seems to be getting used intuitively by other people. It’s definitely a low-stress crossing.

    –> as I thought, the part of the intersection with the protection is a Class I multiuse path on both sides. There are on-road Class II lanes, as well, though I saw virtually no one use them. Most people biking in Davis are just average people in average clothes on bikes, so this makes sense.

    –> As expected, most people going through the intersection are in cars or bikes so the relative lack of pedestrians means the extra-wide shared-use paths are fine for biking, though it is still a best practice to provide separate bikeways and sidewalks.

    –> the biggest con: lack of bike-specific signalization. However, the very advanced forward stop position of bikes means that, as expected, people on bike and foot are very visible to drivers turning right and gives them a nice head start. It felt quite safe and cars turning right were well aware of people on bike and foot in the intersection because of the favorable angles involved. As seen with these designs in the Netherlands, turn conflicts are virtually eliminated and don’t even come close to happening.

    –> Most people on bikes going through the intersection used the protected intersection. I saw little vehicular biking on the on-road lanes and no VC lefts at all. After all, this is a big multilane fast arterial and crossing that many lanes only to still have to wait at a red light in the left-turn bay is unattractive to most people.

    –> Btw, one thing that didn’t occur to me till going there is the protected intersection is literally cooler! The protected intersection’s path is made with light-reflective materials–this makes it palpably cooler than the sizzling asphalt while you wait to cross. I wonder if this is one reason Davis often paves its bikeways and certainly Class I paths with white concrete.

    It was over 100 F/38 C out in Davis on Saturday afternoon when I was there and with the relentless high-speed multilane traffic on the arterial plus the hot asphalt (just to end up sitting in the left-turn bay at a red on the sweltering asphalt behind all the car exhaust) I just didn’t feel like trying a VC turn out.

    –> Plus, the protected lefts my friends and I did didn’t take very long

    –> Moderate con: even though the visibility is very high due to the protected island and forward stop bar, the turning radius for cars is still not as tight as the Dutch would do it. However, it still worked pretty well and I didn’t see any cars speeding through their right turns.

    –> added bonus: the adjacent development had its grand opening that day and it was cool to see the mixed-use developments and public spaces planned. In addition, there are separated bikeways all throughout and around the development–it’s definitely planned with biking in mind.

    All in all, a great improvement over non-protected intersections, though I hope going forward that Davis (and others looking to emulate it) takes into account and addresses the moderate cons in this intersection and future ones it plans to retrofit with this design.

  36. Yeah, biking around Davis this Saturday was great with all the separated infrastructure but there’s never any doubt whatsoever that you’re in a US suburb–often with unnecessarily and laughably wide streets.

    What’s extra funny about Davis’s overly wide streets is that since 20-25% of all trips there are by bike there’s a notable lack of car traffic (with the exception of maybe a couple arterials) compared to similar-sized places elsewhere in the US.

    It’s definitely not Delft spatially 😀

    On the other hand, the plus side of that is that it shows you can build great low-stress bike networks and achieve high bike modeshare even in a place that–ignoring all the separated bikeways that connect to form a cohesive low-stress whole–looks like a very typical American town.

  37. Another update: Sacramento has posted preliminary renderings of its upcoming planned protected intersection (see C Street image at bottom of this post):

    http://n12street.com/about/

    At least in the tentative renderings there it actually looks like it’s adhering to better practices than the Davis one:

    –> turning radius for cars is tighter
    –> the bikeway is separated from the sidewalk (it is not a shared-use path)

    It looks like the upcoming protected intersections in Menlo Park (SF Peninsula suburb) will also have a separate bikeway and sidewalk:

    http://sf.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/08/El_Camino_Real_Santa_Cruz_Avenue_Protected_Intersection_Drawing.png
    ^ Menlo Park

    (though it’s not a technical spec at least in the rendering those crossbikes look a little narrow, and there ideally shouldn’t be even short plants in the protective island lest they obscure the view towards people on bike/foot even a little bit)

  38. Is this stroad-land a recent thing? My vague memory of pictures of Davis from the ’70s (when I seem to recall it already had its status as a bike-centric city) is that it looked a lot more like you might imagine a semi-rural college town to look.

    It seems very sad that even a well-entrenched biking culture isn’t enough to stop the road-widening stripmall machine…. ><

  39. Actually, yeah, about the 70s is when Davis started resting on its laurels and going a little more conventional late-20th-century American. By the 90s Davis’s bike modeshare had dropped into the low teens–amazing anywhere else in the US but far lower than what it had been.

    It’s recently rebounded into the 20s after a good 15 or so years of dedicated work to improve existing bike networks and bake them in to new construction.

    However, the 70s-era stuff is still apparent in certain parts of town–see attached image of absurdly wide neighborhood street (which no actual houses front to) paralleling overengineered arterial. It’s total overkill.

    All this goes to show that it’s not something in the water about Davisites. They’ll bike where the biking is good, and pass where infrastructure is lacking.

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